"Floating" Bedside Tables (made in Easel)

Hey, everyone!

I wanted to share a project I started working on last night. I’ve never shared one of my own projects here, but it seems like it’s a good way to get some feedback.

The first thing you should know about me is that I had zero experience (possibly less than zero, if possible) doing any kind of woodworking, constructions, tinkering, etc. when I joined Inventables just over a year ago. I hadn’t even seen a CNC machine before until I was asked to build an X-Carve 2015 during my first week. :grimacing: Needless to say, the learning curve has been steep—and very rewarding!

As such, it’s only fair to warn you that I’m a pretty reckless carver. I don’t do things the way they should be done and tend to jump head-first into projects with very little planning. I’m all execution with no foresight. I’m so curious about learning that I tend to let some details (ok, most details) slide as I explore. Most of the things I start and intend to have as finished pieces end up being learning experiences and prototypes for more finished pieces later on…only I sometimes don’t get around to making the “finished” pieces and just deal with the sub-par things I make instead. Ha!

That leads me to the project I started last night: “floating” bedside tables. I say “floating” because I am still going to mount them with brackets, mostly because the kind of work I’d need to do to make them truly float is beyond my scope of possibility right now. It’s also beyond my time frame: my husband is out of town for a few days and I want to surprise him with some new bedside tables when he gets back tomorrow!

We’ve been using the same junked-up bedside tables for the last 6+ years. My husband had them in college and they should’ve been tossed when he graduated, but somehow, they’ve survived the 7 moves we’ve had since I met him. It’s time to say goodbye.

Our current apartment is really small, so I knew right away I wanted to make some sort of wall-mounted bedside table. There was no shortage of inspiration online, and finally, I drew up a design I liked. It has three shelves of different sizes for different things we keep near the bed (alarm clock, lamp, magazines, books, my jewelry, etc.). On a whim, I added some inset magnets at the top so we can hang up things to keep us inspired. I have a photo of my husband and I in a frame on the current bedside table, but it’s shoved in the back and buried underneath books. Now, I can use some magnets to hang it up and see it!

I spent about four hours on two tables last night, and here is what they look like now:

I lasered a simple line design at the top, near the magnets, just to add a little flair. The holes for the magnets were waaaaay too tight for the magnets. Even with some careful whacks with a rubber mallet (HA!), some of them are permanently crooked. I was pretty peeved about this, but I figure they’ll be covered up with something interesting soon so I’m not going to let it bug me for now. In the future, I’ll be more generous with my tolerances.

Here’s a short gif of the magnets in action: one is inset into the wood, the other will be on top of the thing being held up. These are the most crooked ones, too, and it doesn’t look too bad from this angle (right??!):

The part I am most frustrated about is the shelves themselves. Despite carving the slots twice and thinking I was being too generous with the spacing, some of those dang shelves did NOT want to go in the slots. I sanded the thickness down, whacked like a crazy person with a mallet, and did a fair amount of head-scratching. There’s a pretty considerable gap on some of the edges.

I definitely learned my lesson and plan on being more generous with the thickness of these slots if I decide to make these again. I plan on using some reinforcing brackets anyway, so I’m not heartbroken. And honestly, I’m willing to tolerate it to see if this kind of a design is ideal for our bedroom or if I need to make any changes. It’s also on the side of the design, so only my husband and I will see the mistakes because our room is so tiny! :sweat_smile:

The plan tonight is to add the brackets for some support, paint and stain them, and have them hanging up before my husband gets home tomorrow. Fingers crossed! I’ll post an update tomorrow.

If anyone has any other suggestions for how to make a better joint for this kind of shelving unit, I’m all ears. I found a lot of resources online but I had no idea what was useful for my application or if I could obtain the right cut on a CNC.

Oh, and as a side note…I made this entire design in Easel! I cut the shelves with a table saw and lasered the design at the top to save time, but it was designed in Easel and I used the X-Carve to mill the shelve slots.

Whew! That was a long post. Thanks for bearing with me and my verbose explanation of a pretty messy project!


What kind of bit did you use to cut your dados?

I’ve learned that before I unclamp pieces from the wasteboard, I test fit round objects into cut holes and sized boards into slots to ensure accuracy and fit. Just as Phil mentioned, I can adjust in Easel and send another job to make the cuts a bit larger/wider if necessary; just use the same X/Y Zero and it should work just fine.

I like the design. I’m interested to see the final pics when the supports are added.

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I applaud your attempt at making something personal. Experience through trial and error is a fantastic way to learn. Thank you for sharing your project. I think it turned out quite nice so far.

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Thanks for all the feedback, folks! I’ll do my best to address everyone’s questions and replies.

@JDM I just learned what a dado is thanks to your question. Ha! :sweat_smile: I have a strange desire to name my future pets (probably chickens) Rabbet and Dado…
Anyway, like I said, I tend to do things quickly. I opted for a 1/4" 2-flute upcut bit because it took less than 10 minutes for each board. Of course, it ended up taking more than that because I had to do it twice!

@PhilJohnson It’s good to be reminded that everyone out there is fixing their carving mistakes. It’s easy to forget that when I’m holed up in the workshop by myself scratching my head!

I didn’t measure the cut left by the bit, no. I did try fitting the stock material into the slot before removing the piece (as @Traxxtar suggested, too), and everything looked like it would fit snuggly. Apparently it was too snug, or I didn’t test the piece all the way to the bottom of the cut. Lesson learned for next time. Thank you for the calculator, too!

Thank you for the props, @MichaelColey :dizzy: New pics coming very soon of the final pieces!

Thanks to everyone for taking a look!

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Here is what you need to tweak your joints. You can clamp a straight board to your work piece and make tiny adjustments.

It was probably grinding tolerances that got you on those shelves. .25" bits are rarely a full 1/4".


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Whelp, it’s done!

It was a non-rainy evening last night in Chicago, so I took the tables outside to sand them and finish them off with some mineral oil. It always floors me how much of a difference finishing a piece makes :raised_hands:

The brackets ended up being a real pain to install, but that was my own fault for not planning ahead. If I was thinking more clearly, I would have installed a shelf, then the brackets, then the next shelf, then brackets, etc. Instead, I attached all the shelves and then tried to add the brackets afterwards, which proved difficult try to wedge my drill into the spots between the shelves.

Additionally, the screws in that came with the brackets were a smidge longer than my 1/2" shelf thickness, which meant I had to screw them in at a wonky angle so they didn’t break through the shelf. It wasn’t pretty, but there won’t be a ton of weight on these shelves so I’m going to see what happens. If they break, I’ve already got ideas for how to make them better next time! :gem:

The good news is that the brackets on the bottom—which are the most important because they secure the tables to the wall—went in without a hitch. The bottom shelf is definitely the most secure. Given that it’s the longest shelf, too, I feel more reassured about the overall structure.

Anyway, without further ado…here’s the big reveal!

The hardest part yes was trying to mount these by myself! Ha! My husband is OCD about things being crooked. I knew if I messed this up and they weren’t level then it might ruin the whole surprise because that’s all I would hear about :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I think I managed to get them pretty straight, all things considered.

With everything in place on the new tables, I can’t see the crooked brackets or strange shelves at all. I’ll just hope no one who visits my house sees this forum post :grimacing: And the bottom shelf managed to hold up the 7th Harry Potter book: a pretty good test, if I say so myself. Oh, and it’s hard to see, but I also added two long screws into the top of the shelves to keep the top part secured to the wall.

Overall, I am SO happy I took the time to crank this project out in a short time period. These two tables really transform the entire look and feel of our bedroom. :heart_eyes: :sleeping_accommodation: :heart_eyes: I promise the bedroom is not quite as boring as these photos make it look (is anyone else weirded out by sleeping with things mounted above their head?!) but they really have made this space so much more enjoyable for me.

I finally get to say goodbye to these ratty ol’ things! (though I still need to find new homes for the junk piled on the shelves…)

Thanks for checking out my project and sharing your feedback and insights with me! :incoming_envelope: It is very helpful as I start thinking about other pieces I can make for my home. :chart_with_upwards_trend:

Also, one quick question: I taped the edges of the shelves because I have plans to paint them some different colors, but upon further investigation, my paints are still in northern Michigan. I’ll have to wait until I can relocate them here. Oh, the joys of moving from a farm house to a city apartment…

I was planning to use acrylic paints on the edges of the shelves. This is an indoor project without a lot of “traffic,” so to speak, so I figured it would be fine. The shelves are made out of Inventables’ Maple Plywood. Does anyone have any other suggestions about paints that would work well on this material? Thanks!


SUPER HELPFUL! Thank you so much! :clap:

When I make my next set, I’ll buy myself one of these little guys. Thank you!

Very nice project, Mo! Inventables Live coming up??? :wink:

Haha…! The entire episode would be folks watching me pound a rubber mallet trying to make those dang shelves fit. But I plan on posting the Easel project files soon! I’ll update this thread when I do that.

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Oh then you really have to see NYC, where most apartments are the size of that room :slight_smile: I’ll have to get some pics off craigslist and post them for you

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My grandfather had a Simplicity tractor. It looked just like yours. Brought back some memories! :heart_eyes:

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@mstych You could use some iron-on edge banding instead of painting those edges. Edge banding makes plywood edges look very nice.

That’s a good idea! I didn’t think of that. I’ll do some research. Thanks for the insight!

It’s no optical illusion: the bedroom really IS that small. That’s a queen-sized bed! I didn’t want to sign a lease on the apartment until I knew for a fact that our bed would fit, because I was convinced it wouldn’t happen.

I hear you on the yard, too. Here is a picture of our 100-year-old farm house on the day we sold it last year. We had .93 acres and loved every inch of that yard (yes, even the brown spot that was always sun-scorched because we didn’t have irrigation :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:)!