Madison Changing Table: Part 1 (Side Bases)

After completing our first baby decor project with the super awesome Letter H Shelf project; we decided to tackle a furniture piece for Baby Huthbert’s nursery.  We’ve had our eye on The Madison Changing Table plans on Ana White’s website for awhile.  Finishing the entire project involves three different pieces (Side Bases, Center Base, and Hutch).  This post is about completing the Side Bases.

We originally thought we would refinish an old computer desk with a hutch attached but ended up partially nixing that idea (you’ll see what I’m talking about when we get to the Hutch post).

  The Madison Changing Table is designed after the this expensive version which retails for $1,399. . . yikes.  We loved creating our own rendition of this piece and being able to use color and accent pieces we wanted (and not paying $1,399 for it is pretty cool too).  We spent between $50-$60 for both side pieces around $25-$30 per side.  I love the fact that these side bases could be used as night stands in the future.

Tool List:

Supply List:

Lumber List (this list is for two side base tables):

  • 1 Sheet of 3/4″ A1 Plywood, cut into 1×16 boards
  • 1 – 1×6 Board (you only need about 5′ feet)
  • 1 – 1×2 Board (you only need about 3′ feet)
  • 3/4″ Edge Trim (3/4″ wide)

Cut List:
  **REMEMBER: When making 1×16 strips from the plywood you’re going to lose 1/8″ from the actual cut, also known as the “Kerf”**

  • Cut List for Box (we cut double of everything since we were making two)
    • 2 – 1×16 @ 33 1/4″ (Sides)
    • 3 – 1×16 @ 14 1/2″ (Shelves)
    • 1 – 1×16 @ 16″ (Top)
  • Cut List for Trim
    • 2 – 1×2 @ 14 1/2″ (Inner Trim)
    • 1 – 3/4″ Edge Trim @ 16″ (Front Edge Trim)
  • Cut List for Drawer
    • 2 – 1×6 @ 14 1/2″ (Drawer sides)
    • 1 – 1×6 @ 12 3/4″ (Drawer back)
    • 1 – 1×6 @ 14 1/4″ (Drawer Face)
    • 1 – 1×16 @ 12 3/4″ (Drawer Bottom, trim the width down to 12 3/4″ x 13 3/4″)
Boards before and after cuts

Lesson Learned:  Do not leave boards leaning up against walls while being stored.  They’ll end warped or bowed.  We learned the hard way.  Warped boards made parts of this project much more difficult than they needed to be.  We were able to make everything work, but not without a lot of pushing, pulling, grunting and cursing.  From this point out we store lumber horizontally.


Step 1: Wood Prep

After making all cuts we filled holes, cracks, gaps, etc. in with wood filler and sanded everything with 120 grit with our orbital sander.

Before and After

Once the wood filler dried we decided to slap on a coat of primer, trying to make painting easier later on (FYI we hate painting). We knew we’d have to re-paint later, but it just seemed like a good idea at the time.  If we could re-do  I think we’d only prime/paint the small, hard to get to top shelf.   

Step 1 Complete (Sanding, Wood Filler, Sanding, Primer)


Step 2: Attaching Sides to Top 

Next we went ahead and attached our two 1×16 @ 33-1/4″ (sides) to our 1×16 @ 16″ (top).  We did this by drilling three pocket holes in each 1×16 @ 33-1/4″ board and used 1-1/4″ Pocket Screws.


Above, you can see we used our Kreg Jig to make the pocket holes.  We used a Corner Clamp and Right Angle Clamp to secure the boards while we screwed things in.  The Corner Clamp is seriously awesome.  It holds everything to a 90 degree angle perfectly.  We’re even thinking about getting a second one.  The Right Angle Clampis also a life saver when it comes to using pocket holes. 
Step 2 Complete!

 Step 3: Adding the Shelves

Next we attached our three shelves (three 1×16’s @ 14-1/2″) to the sides by drilling three pocket holes on each edge of the shelf.  Before drilling the 1-1/4″ self tapping screws we made sure all the shelves were perfectly straight and square by cutting couple pieces of scrap wood to use as braces for each shelf, we also tightened each shelf down with our Band Clamp.

Pocket hole placement was the same on each shelf

Step 4: Attaching Inside & Outside Trim

Next we attached our inner trim (1×2’s @ 14 1/2″).  Below are photos attaching our bottom inner trim.  We made two pocket holes and used 1-1/4″ self tapping screws to attach these pieces.  As usual, we used our handy band clamp to keep everything straight.

 We ended up not adding outside trim to the bottom  We just didn’t feel like doing it/didn’t think it really needed it.

 The above photo shows the top inside and outside trim.  We drilled two pocket holes in the the back of the 1×2 @ 14-1/2 to attach it,  and used two 1-1/4″ finishing nails to attach the 3/4″ @16″ trim.

Step 4 Complete!


 Step 5: The Backing

Next we started in on the backing.  We decided we liked the Letter H Shelf pallet backing so much we would use the same concept for this project.  One benefit of doing the pallet backing is that the wood was free!

We made each cut about 15-1/2″ (really we just eyeballed it and made sure it didn’t overlap on the sides).  We decided sanding down wood filler was easier and less tedious than sanding down pallets that were too long or uneven.  After we made our pallet cuts we sanded them down with 120 grit.  After double checking that they fit correctly we moved onto staining. . . 

We used 1 coat of Minwax Dark Walnut Stain.  We decided not to use wood conditioner, because we’re lazy we tested a small piece and didn’t mind the results so went with it.  We then put one coat of Minwax Polyurethane Semi-Gloss on. 

Next nailed the back onto the actual shelves with 1-1/4″ nails and used wood filler to even everything out.  We sanded the wood filler down with 120 grit sand paper.

Step 6: Making the Drawers

First, we put together the body of the drawer (excluding the face).  We started off by making sure the base of the drawer was the correct length/width (bottom should be a 1×16 @ 12-3/4″, then trim the width down to 12-3/4 x 13-3/4″).  We drilled three pocket holes into each side of the base (used 1-1/4″ self tapping screws) to attach the vertical pieces.  We also drilling pocket holes on the sides of the drawer to help attach the face (you’ll see the placement in a picture further down after everything was primed).
For the front piece of the drawer we routed off a 1/4″ deep perimeter at 3/4″ depth. By routing the inside of the face the drawer is flush with the outside top trim. 

For the yellow knobs we used Rust-Oleum Sun Yellow spray paint

 Before we attached the drawer face we primed everything (including the knobs). We attached the knobs at this point as well.

For the inside of the drawers we picked up some scrap book paper from Hobby Lobby and applied a coat of Mod Podge and two coats of Minwax Polycryclic.   After finishing this, we filled all gaps, holes, dents, etc with wood filler and let it dry before finally moving on to the final step.

For the record:  We hated making these drawers.  It was messy, and the inside of the drawers didn’t turn out as nice as we would have hoped.  If we could go back and redo things we would have:

  • Sanded the inside of the drawers more.
  • Spent the extra money and bought drawer glides.  The shelves pull in/out fine, just not as smooth as we’d like.  To get them pulling in/out easier we rubbed some ski wax on them and that seemed to help quite a bit.
  • Toyed with the idea of staining the inside of the drawer dark walnut to match the back instead of using paint.
  • In our magical do-over, if we didn’t stain the inside, we would have primed, painted, and sealed the inside of the drawer before putting it together.  Trying to paint it after the drawer was already in the shelf was a huge pain.
  • Attached the knobs after we painted everything, trying to paint around the knobs was them to  (again) a pain.

All in all, it still didn’t turn out terrible, just not perfect.

Step 6 FINALLY Complete!

Step 7: The Finish!

Finally, we applied two coats of Behr Irish Mist, and two coats of Minwax Satin Polycrylic.  We applied it all using a foam brush.   The last time I used Polycrylic I applied it with a regular paint brush and I ended up with yellowed white paint.  Using the foam brush was 100% better, and I had no yellowing problems.

Anndd. . . .  Ta-Da!!  Part 1 of the Madison Changing table is complete!  

We’re really happy with how Part 1 of this project turned out.  Can’t wait to finish up everything and see what it looks like all put together!

Beyond The Picket Fence

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