DIYdiy projects

diy project: pure + simple side table

by Kate Pruitt

Finding a simple, modular piece of furniture that is reasonably priced but also well made can be hard sometimes. IKEA provides some decent options, but sometimes you just want something made out of beautiful, sturdy, solid wood. Thankfully, designer Silvia Song has created a great tutorial for a simple wood side table with a sliding drawer. If you’re interested in getting into woodworking and furniture making but don’t know where to start, this is the tutorial for you. She’s made a lovely piece with clean lines and a basic form that requires only a few tools. If you want a fun building project for a fall weekend, you should definitely try it out. Thanks for sharing, Silvia! — Kate

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Read the full how-to after the jump!

I chose this project as an exercise to see if I could design and build a simple drawer unit in the spirit of Enzo Mari’s Autoprogettazione (self-design). I wanted to use just a few simple hand tools and assemble each part by cross cutting only off-the-shelf lumber. The biggest challenge was to find a way to work with the actual dimensions of lumber to come up with puzzle-like pieces simple enough for a novice to build, but not lacking in versatility. My intentions were to keep things as simple and organic as possible, but you can easily personalize it by staining or painting the wood. I really enjoyed designing it, and I hope you enjoy building it! — Silvia


  • hammer
  • cross-cut hand saw
  • engineered square or 90-degree triangle
  • sanding block
  • pencil
  • lumber: (3) 1” x 6” x 6’, (1) 1” x 4” x 6’, (1) 1” x 3” x 6’, (1) 1” x 2” x 6’
  • box of #16 x 1 1/4″ wire nails


1. Let’s begin by building the frame. Cut lumber to the dimensions below using a right angle tool (engineered square or 90-degree triangle) and lightly sand the edges.

(6) — 1” x 2” x 11” corner supports (for lateral support)

(4) — 1” x 6” x 18” top and bottom panel

(4) — 1” x 6″ x 20” side panel

2. Side panel assembly: A minimum of four nails per 1 x 2 support is required. It is crucial to nail directly into the center of the 1 x 2s. These pieces will support the frame laterally once it is upright.

3. There should be a 2 1/2″ space between the first and second 1 x 2s as shown in the photo. Add an extra 1/16″ to allow the drawer to slide easily in and out.

4. Let’s go ahead and complete the frame by assembling the top and bottom panels as well. Place (2) 1″ x 6″ x 18″ planks and nail them directly into the 1 x 2 supports. Make sure the nails are driven directly into the center of the supports.

You should now have a completed frame that looks like this:

5. To assemble the drawer, cut lumber to the dimensions specified below.

(2) — 1” x 6“ x 15” front and back planks

(2) — 1” x 4” x 9.5” side planks (one on each side)

(2) — 1” x 3” x 11” outermost side planks

(2) — 1” x 4” x 15” bottom end planks

(1) — 1” x 3” x 15” bottom middle plank

6. To assemble the bottom of the drawer, use (1) 1″ x 3″ x 15″ plank sandwiched between (2) 1″ x 4″ x 15″ planks. Place the 1″ x 4″ x 9.5″ side planks on both ends of the bottom planks and nail them down securely.

Here is what the completed side looks like:

7. Take (1) 1″ x 3″ x 11″ outermost side plank and align as shown in the photo. This will create a lip underneath the front and back panels to allow the drawer to be pulled out.

8. Then center the piece along the innermost side plank so that the edge of the 1 x 3 is flush with the front and back planks, and nail them down. Repeat for the opposite side.

Here is the finished drawer assembly:

9. Finally, slide the drawer into the frame.


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  • Cool project! Definitely going to try this. I have a feeling it could easily be modified and extended, too.

    I’m super curious about the plant in the end photo. Any idea what it is?

  • The plant looks a little bit like an Anemone plant, though I’ve never seen them indoors.

    Love this DIY by the way!

  • I wish there were a plan with this. I’d like to know what size it comes out at – I could work that out from the pieces, but I always find it easier to make things with a plan too.

  • Nice! Very clean and simple.

    One suggestion for anyone making this… I would use would glue between the pieces before nailing them together. You’ll be happy you did.

  • EMCC, I think you may be taking one of Silvia’s tweets out of context… Are you familiar with Enzo Mari’s work? I am… and this looks nothing like one of Mari’s designs. If you read the first line from the post it clearly states that this design is ‘in the spirit’ of Mari’s self-design work. I think Mari would be pleased with what Silvia has done here.

  • Great project! I’ve always wanted to build a piece of furniture, and this looks like a great place to start. Thank you!

  • I love this project!! It’s so simple and looks so elegant …. thanks for sharing!

  • I’ve always been afraid of attempting anything that involved drawers, but this really does look doable. Hmmm, if I didn’t have quite so many projects…

  • Hello everyone, thanks for your comments. @Josh, the plant in the photo is a succulent: Calandrinia spectabilis. @romney, I am working on a cut-sheet for this project if you are interested.

  • woww…really cool. you can even make it more personal just by painting or stenceling. It is really a good project :)

  • Recently I converted a stool into bedside stand. Looks so similar! Obviously this one looks better though.

  • Can I just tell you all that I love reading Design Sponge Comments? So refreshingly pleasant and adult.
    .. I too am inspired to try a bit of carpentry—seems so easy here!

  • Such elegance and simplicity. Beautifully done! Instructions are easy to follow. I think I am going to try this. Bravo!

  • Fantastic. I love homemade things that don’t look homemade and tacky, and this is perfect. will definitely be trying this out, and the customisation possibilities are endless. Thankyou so much!!!

  • @Yonghui: The wood i’m using is pine. You can find at a local hardware/lumber shop. @Barbara Wittig: the drawer slides fairly well. You may want to place the 1x3x11 piece (for the drawer) and set it in between the 2 supports (step 3 for the frame) before you nail down the center support. However 1/16″ gap should suffice.

  • I just wanted to say that I tried it, and the pattern is so easy to follow and the results are so beautiful! Thank you design sponge!!!! And thank you Silvia for sharing your creativity with the rest of us.

  • I don’t understand in step 6 how the 9.5″ piece is equal to the 3″ + 4″ + 4″ (=11″) pieces laid together for the bottom of the drawer. I ended up just using a smaller (in width) piece of wood for one of the bottom planks. Can anyone clarify?

  • @Mary, you are welcome!

    Hi Emily, the actual dimension of a 1×3 is 3⁄4 in × 2 1⁄2 in and a 1×4 is 3⁄4 in × 3 1⁄2 in. The actual dimension of lumber (finished sizes) add up to 9 1⁄2 in., while the nominal dimension (green/rough sizes) add up to 11 in. I hope this answers your question. Please feel free to email me if you have any other questions at hello [at] silviasong [dot] com.

  • I’m almost done with this. It is my first “carpentry” project and it’s shaping up ok. I bought some maple from the home depot, and while the wood is beautiful, it is very hard. I couldn’t get the nails to go in, so I used pilot holes and screws. This caused the drawer not to fit since the screws stuck out a little too much. I’m going to cut the wood down a little more tomorrow so it fits.

    My suggestion is that if you use a really hard wood like maple, then you should have a good brad gun. Otherwise, you’ll be hammering all day.

  • This is a great project! I can’t wait to get started. I also want to paint mine, and add some hardware to the drawer.

  • Cool! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for for Mother’s Day. Thanks alot!

  • I am in middle of building this for our B&B rooms, however I think I need to add 2 braces at the back since it is swaying… I will take it apart and add the glue like Bobby suggested. Anyone have suggestions on bracing it?

  • A diagonal piece across the back, from one top corner to the opposite bottom corner should stop the wiggle.

  • I’m probably missing something… the drawer front and back hight is 6″ while the total hight of the 2 corner supporters (2″ each) and the outermost side plank (3″) is 7″… while at he picture it seems all aligned. what did I miss?

  • Could somebody change the measurements into the metric system, it’s really confusing…looks awesome btw

  • Wow! This looks really simple to make and very nice! Urgently need to show it to my husband so there’s a good chance to build it this weekend. Maybe I will add wheels to the bottom. Hm. Thanks for sharing and kind regards from germany! Frieda

  • @OY: The actual size of lumber is a half inch less than the nominal size. So, the 2″ pieces are actually 1.5″, the 3″ pieces are 2.5″ and the 6″ piece is 5.5″. So, 1.5+1.5+2.5=5.5 (rather the 7 that you mentioned) which lines up perfectly with the 6″ drawer front (because it’s actually 5.5″). Hope this helps!

  • First time visitor and commentor…
    This is a great looking table. You can stablize it by covering the entire back with 1/8″ or 1/4″ board. You could also add one or two doors on the front under the drawer. This is one great piece and allows a ton of flexibility to suite ones personal taste. I am new to woodworking; but I will definitely build a few of these. Thank you for sharing this project.

  • I built this with oak and it was extremely hard to nail into. I suggest nail gun or pilot holes with the drill. I also did not use wood glue, while my significant other did, and his came out much more sturdy. We added a back brace behind the drawer, which also helped keep it flush when it is closed and an extra 1×2 piece at the bottom back. it was a strain on our relationship. but it is over. phew*

  • I have to admit, I struggled through this one. I have built things before, but never things that were supposed to look pretty. I had trouble getting the drawer to fit. The table was too narrow. I ended up taking the top off, and putting it back on with the drawer in, so I would have enough space.
    The end result is totally worth it. The only thing that I’m unhappy with is I ended up with a lot of unnecessary nail holes from taking it off and putting it back on.

    I’m excited to try more carpentry projects at home!

  • The design is great but the measurements are off and don’t result in the photos shown. A diagram of how everything fits together would be great. We had to sketch our own and make adjustments. Really struggled through this, trying to make sure everything would fit. For example how is the 1×3 going to fit into a 2.5 in space? If you could please correct the measurements or provide a diagram it would be super helpful.