Reclaimed Flooring Nightstands

Nightstands made from walnut and reclaimed hardwood flooring

Infinite sigh.

This project has been hanging over me since Fall 2017. Before I get into all the ways it’s gone wrong, though, I’ll go all the way back to talk about The Wood.

The Wood

Back in the fall my in-laws came to me with an idea: create new nightstands for their master bedroom using the extra hardwood flooring they had from when the re-did the first floor of their house. They had already used some of the flooring to create a headboard for their bed, and thought matching nightstands would be great. They had a picture of a general design they liked, and I thought it would be simple enough so I said “Sure.”

I don’t know what the wood is, though. Maybe hickory? It had a finish on one side that needed to be sanded off and had tongue-and-groove construction. This would provide for considerable problems later.

Original Design

Initially, the overall design was simple: A box with a single drawer and a bottom shelf. The aspect that intrigued me was that the legs were going to use metal square tubing. I’ve been wanting to start to learn metalworking so I thought this would be a good way to force me to learn some techniques. This also ended up being a considerable problem, which we’ll get into later.


As fall turned to winter I started working through the enormous pile of flooring left to me by my in-laws. This was before I’d upgraded to my current jointer and table saw, and especially on my old benchtop jointer it took a looooong time to get something approaching two square sides on all the pieces.

Similarly, this was before I swapped out the straight knives in my Dewalt 735 planer for a Shelix Helical cutterhead and I hit several nails leftover in the flooring that nicked my straight knives and necessitated me rotating them.

After the flooring destroyed both my jointer and planer, I got discouraged and then it was the holidays and I took some time off…

Many Months Later

In the meantime I built a new changing table for my child that born in April, all the while grimacing about the stack of mostly-milled flooring that I kept moving from table to table in my shop.

After the changing table was done I took a month off and worked on some smaller projects while gathering my constitution and will to jump back into the nightstands project.


The first thing that I realized was that I wasn’t going to be doing any metalworking on this project. I simply don’t have the tools or the space to accomodate that kind of work, and the more I thought about how I could create a stable base for the nightstand with the tools I do have the more I realized this would be a quagmire.

I started redesigning.

I realized that I could keep the general leg design and just make it out of wood instead of the square metal tubing. I went and got some 8/4 walnut and thought of some great things I could do with it! Later in the summer I’m going to be undertaking The Wood Whisperer Guild Greene & Greene Adirondack Chair, and in preparation I also purchased Darrell Peart’s excellent book on Greene & Greene furniture. There are some neat design elements in the book that I applied to the updated nightstand leg design.

Panel Fail

Unfortunately, my luck with this Mystery Flooring Wood continues to be poor. As I started to dimension and re-mill the pieces I started in the winter, I realized that some of the boards were much more bowed then I had remembered. And once I started gluing them up into small panels for the top and bottom of the drawer box and the lower shelf I was horrified to find that they were bowed to the point of unusability.

The first time I glued them up I did not use cauls and I paid the price. So I cut the panel in half and re-milled it on the jointer and planer to get the two halves as flat as I could, and then re-glued into a panel while using 2” thick cherry hardwood cauls on the ends. The problem now is that I’m running out of thickness in the material; the panel’s are down to 1/2” thick and I can’t take much more and expect any kind of decent glue-up into a panel.

Edge Banding Fail