{gigantic} Rustic Sideboard

What fun it was to discuss this sideboard with Ana White and then build it from her plans! I needed an extra long (like 7′ long) sideboard to fit in a specific spot in my friend Emily’s house. It had to be a big piece to fill a big space and it had to have some character, because you can see it when you walk in the front door of her house.

We looked at some different pieces for inspiration and then Ana drew up these plans. Initially, we thought it would be stained dark brown but after looking at the abundance of wood in her house, we decided to go with something a little punchier. Why not red?

Don’t you love the contrast between the electric guitars and the rustic sideboard?!

I made a few small changes from the original plans. First, I decided not to attach the top of the piece until I was nearly finished with everything else. Leaving the top unattached allowed me to install and adjust the drawer slides with full view of them, and it let us paint the inside of the sideboard without having the top in the way. I am so glad I waited to attach the top. As it turns out, the drawer glides did not go in as easily as expected (apparently the piece wasn’t as perfectly square as it should have been…oops!) and it was frustrating enough without having to work around the top.

Second, before I finished the piece (and before attaching the top) I used my Kreg jig to attach a small scrap of 1×2 to the inside of the face frame where the two cabinet doors meet in the middle. I knew from experience that I would need a spot to screw in a magnetic catch for the cabinet doors and I knew it would be tough to do once the rest of the piece was put together.

The top of the sideboard.

Third, I attached the back differently from how the plans recommend. Because the side of this piece will be seen from the front door of the house, I didn’t want to see plywood tacked onto the back. I’m not opposed to attaching the back that way for most pieces, but I wanted the back on this piece to be hidden. So, after staring at it for a long time, I inset three panels with my Kreg jig and trimmed them out from the inside of the piece with small pine strips. All of the seams are covered from the inside and now the back is invisible from the side of the piece.

The view of the sideboard as you descend the stairs from the front door.

The finish on this piece ended up being a long, multi-step process. First, I applied sanding sealer to the whole piece. This helped to raise the grain of the wood so that I could sand it back down and minimize the grain coming up again in the steps that followed. Then I applied an espresso colored water based stain followed by two thin coats of Red Pepper milk paint. I gave the milk paint a light sanding to make it super smooth and let some of the dark stain show through and then glazed the whole piece with yellow ochre. I used some additional glaze (dark gray, almost black) in the crevices between the 2×4 and 2×6 boards on top of the piece to give more depth and age. The final step was applying clear bowling alley wax and buffing it out.

Wax doesn’t give a finish that is as long-lasting and bullet-proof as PolyWhey (my favorite earth- and people-friendly finish), but you really can’t beat the feel of it. I like to know that the texture of the furniture I build will be smooth and super touchable, and wax gives that finish. The wax finish is also easy to rejuvenate over time — just apply a thin coat, let it dry overnight, and buff it out to a soft shine the next day.

Also, I finally took a photo of something I’ve been doing for a while now that might help people who are new to building. I’ve started using a stop block every time I need to make more than one cut the same length. All you need are a few quick clamps and a wood scrap or two to make it work. This trick has really improved the reliability of my cuts!

Clamping a stop block to my miter saw helps me make lots of cuts exactly the same size.

 
The total cost of this project, including all of the lumber, hardware, and finishing supplies, came in right around $400. I bought my hardware (knobs, pulls, drawer slides, and hinges — similar to these for the outside doors and these for the middle doors) from cabinetparts.com and was really happy with the quality and price.

Until I built this piece, I had no idea my little level had a magnetic strip on it. Genius!
Shims. This carpenter’s best friends.

Instead of tacking plywood onto the back, I made the back inset.

Drawer bottoms were lined with wrapping paper and clear contact paper before assembly.

Waiting for the paint to dry on the inside of the sideboard.
The top — sanded, sealed, sanded, stained, painted, sanded, glazed, and waxed.

Cup pull hardware — not always easy to attach perfectly, so I relied on a special jig.

Using a jig to get the hardware holes right.
I centered the jig first and then used a nail set to punch holes where I needed to drill.
Perfect holes for starting the drill.

I installed the drawer slides before finishing the piece, then made notes of where I needed adjustments.

Ready to move!

70 thoughts on “{gigantic} Rustic Sideboard

    1. Hillary

      Thank you, Brooke! Yes, the stop block works wonders. If the fence on my table saw doesn’t extend far enough, sometimes I will clamp a horizontal piece to the fence and then clamp the stop block to that. Also, for my birthday I got a miter saw stand that has extendable stop blocks and rests (for really long pieces). It has dramatically changed the precision of my cuts.

      Reply
  1. Jaime

    HIllary really beautiful work, worth all the savings especially with that custom color you wouldn’t get from RH. It’s proof that DIY is so worth it, your friend will appreciate that piece forever!

    Reply
    1. JTS Distributors

      Do you hand sand or use a sander? If so, which type of sander do you use, square 1/4 sheet sander or a random orbital or?? Thanks for posting this and all the lovely pictures, it sure is beautiful!!

      Tracy

      Reply
    2. Hillary

      Hi, Tracy! I do both. Right before finishing and between finishes I hand sand with sandpaper wrapped around a sanding sponge (if I want to curve the edges or sand rounded edges) or on a sanding block (a black rubber one that fits 1/3 or 1/4 sheet of sandpaper — I use it when I want to keep the super sharp 90* edges).

      When I’m working with super rough wood (like those 2x4s above) I use a DeWalt random orbital sander before I get to the finishing stage. I find that it is too hard to control for using during finishing. I also have a Black and Decker mouse sander but don’t use it nearly as often.

      Reply
  2. Julie

    This is such a beautiful piece. Thank you so much for taking the time to document with pictures and instructions. And your tips are much appreciated!! Makes me want to go tackle a big project like this!!

    Reply
  3. Joe

    I love it! My wife and I have been looking for something like this to use as an entertainment console. Our TV is mounted on the wall (kinda high to keep out of the reach of children) and everything in the store is so small. I think this will work great. Love the post and your blog. Great work.

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      Thanks, Liz! I’ve seen a few pinners question the color but it really is perfect for that space. I’m loving following the flip you’re working on right now — so fun to see it all take shape!

      Reply
  4. Kade and Emily

    This looks so great! Nice work! I was wondering what kind of wood you used for this piece. Also, when you ordered the drawer slides, what length did you get? I hope that when I make mine, I am brave enough to use such a wonderful bold color!

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      Hi! I used whatever 2x6s and 2x4s Lowe’s had on hand. I think they were Douglas Fir. I used 10″ drawer slides, I think…although they may have been 12″. I’m not 100% sure.

      Reply
  5. andrew

    What kind of wood did you use for your 1×4’s? Did you use a poplar, pine or an oak?? I am just getting ready to start this project

    Reply
  6. Erin Tame Designs

    Wow, what a GORGEOUS piece of furniture. Your friend is very lucky.

    I’m wondering what the name of the ruler is that you used to measure out where the pilot holes for the hardware should be placed. And where would I find one? I didn’t know these even existed…it would’ve come in handy more times than I can recall.

    Thanks, Hillary!

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      Hi, Erin! I’m not sure what it is called or what the brand was, but I found it in the aisle near the knobs/pulls at Lowe’s, I think. I’ve seen them at Home Depot, too. If you ask for a “jig for drawer pulls” I think someone will be able to lead you to the right spot. Good luck!

      Reply
  7. Laurie

    This is perfectly, exactly what I am looking for for extra storage in my dining room/kitchen. I’ve drooled over many of Ana’s plans, but have yet to make anything. I just moved into my first house and still trying to figure out how everything is going to go. Would it be absolutely ridiculous of me to try this as my first DIY furniture project? I have a miter box already, but have yet to purchase a saw. Any suggestions as to what type of saw would be a good investment to begin with? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      Hey! I’m not one to wait for skills or knowledge before I tackle a huge project, so I’m probably the wrong person to ask. But, if you’re willing to make this a very long project and really take your time, then I suppose you could do it with a miter box and a hand saw. I have no idea what kind of hand saw to tell you to buy. I would encourage you to purchase a miter saw, even the very most basic one (or one from Craigslist or a pawn shop — not kidding about that, pawn shops have great tools) for this project. There are just a lot of cuts and you want them to be exactly right or else your drawers won’t slide. Plus you’ll use your saw for ten million other projects now that you’ve got a house. For the bigger cuts (your saw will only be able to cut boards sized up to a 1×8, probably), get them cut at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Just try to go when they’re not busy and smile a lot at the guy doing the cutting so he’ll do it accurately. :) Good luck! If you build it, come back and tell me!!

      Reply
    2. Laurie

      Found what looks like a brand new Dewalt Miter saw at a pawn shop this evening!! Thanks for the tip! Just need to pick up a few more tools and wood before getting started. I was looking at Kreg Jigs at Lowes too and noticed they have their own screws. Do you have to use them, or can you use any self-tapping screw?

      Thanks for your help!

      Reply
    3. Hillary

      Laurie, I am so excited for you! The miter saw is great news! Yes, I use the Kreg screws unless Lowe’s is out of them, then there is another brand of pocket hole screw in the general hardware section. I can’t remember the name but they work fine. Kreg screws are less expensive, though. Also, I’m not sure whether you’ve already bought the jig, but just FYI, I started with the Kreg Jr. and it served me well for a year. I received the full Kreg system as “payment” for a piece I worked on for a friend. The full system is way faster to use, but if you’re just starting and aren’t sure whether you’ll enjoy it or if the full system isn’t in the budget right now, you can start with the Kreg Jr. and a face clamp — it is enough to get going. Can’t wait to hear more!

      Reply
    1. Hillary

      Hi, Ariel. It’s hard to tell from the photo because I’d already filled and sanded most of the pocket holes, but I used pocket holes in the 1x4s to create a frame and then attached the backs to the 1x4s from the inside of the piece. So I cut three pieces of ply to fit in the three sections, inserted them from inside, and then nailed and glued them to the 1x4s which were attached to the piece using pocket hole screws. There are certainly better ways to do it, but it was sort of an afterthought for me. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  8. Julia

    Love your sideboard! Halfway through working on mine.

    What boards did you use in the doors? And how did you attach them? Also, did you have any problems with your doors fitting? Mine all seem a little “off” (granted, we have to cut all our wood with cordless circular saws).

    And what did you use inside for the shelves? thanks!!

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      Hi, Julia. For the doors I think I used 1x4s for the frames (maybe 1x3s? I can’t remember) and pre-made chipboard paneling for the inserts. I used a router to cut out a 1/4 inch channel in the door frames and then inset the panels into those and attached with glue and staples.

      No, my doors didn’t fit perfectly this time, but with a little sanding I got the reveal around the door frame equal on all sides.

      I think for the shelves I used plywood with 1×2 trim on the front edges. It was an inch or two shallower than the inside of the piece itself, which allowed me to attach the trim on the front and still have some room to spare for the doors.

      Let me know when yours is finished — if you do a brag post, post a link here. I’d love to see photos!

      Reply
  9. AG

    I have just finished putting together this same unit from clear pine,
    my prefered finish for this one is dioxidizing, so taht I get the grey and red shades rather then uniform varnish…
    Do you think its a good idea, or this is too big of a piece for that?

    If so, Should I apply first coat of the vinigar-steel wool solution, and later put on the black tea on boards that remained white, or must I apply the tea prior on certain boards?

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      Great work!

      I was originally planning to oxidize the whole piece, but changed my mind and went red so I think it will work well.

      If the whole piece is made from the same clear pine, then put the tea on the whole thing first, then the vinegar solution. Otherwise, test scraps ahead of time to see what needs tea and what doesn’t. Probably the doors will be the hardest part.

      I would definitely try to do the whole piece at once, though. And pay attention to the color as you go. As you use up your solution, it will get more concentrated and you may need to add more vinegar, lest you end up with an ombre piece. :)

      Reply
    2. AG

      Thank you,

      Your tips were very helpful – the recessed back, shiming the drawer front, I have also chose not to attach the back and top, this made it easy to install the rails, doors, and will also make it easier when painting (I hope…),
      I have made few minor modifications – my unit is not as wide (-10″), and with slightly taller drawers for the old CDs, I have also chosen (thanks to my daughter) to use telescopic rails so the drawers with the discs come all the way out.
      Over all very please with the result, just not rushing to paint it…

      So just to make sure I get ur instructions right ,I should apply the black tea on “suspicious boards” of low tanins, than apply the solution on the whole unit. Now lets just say I have a board that remained white, do I go with another round of both, or just the solution?

      Last, if you advise how, I will be happy to email you or post a picture of my sideboard

      Thanks a million for your patience and for sharing with us all this info!
      Amit

      Reply
    3. Hillary

      I’m so glad the tips helped! Smart move on the telescopic rails. Those are definitely the best!

      Yes, definitely apply the tea to “suspicious boards,” but since it is pine I think you’ll probably find (through testing on scraps) that you need to apply tea to the whole thing. That’s sort of a trial-and-error thing that you want to do on scrap first.

      If some remains white or too light, try first with another coat of vinegar solution rather than tea and vinegar. The tea plus vinegar might push it too dark. It depends, though, on how much color change you got from the first coat. It’s a bit of a gut thing. :) In order for the oxidation method to work, you have to be okay with some variation in color, and it sounds like you are so you’re a great candidate for it!

      I’d love to see a photo when you’re done! My email address is hillary (dot) dickman (at) gmail (dot) com. I’d love to post a photo of it here, actually, if you wouldn’t mind!

      Reply
  10. Ben

    “Instead of tacking plywood onto the back, I made the back inset” Started the project Yesterday and want to do my back like yours. Do you have a material/cut lists for the wood on the back? Maybe even some instructions on how you did this. Love your work!
    -Ben-

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      Hi, Ben!

      I don’t have a cut list — I just measured as I worked. I didn’t even think to photograph it until after I’d filled the holes. So, if you look at the photo of the back where you found that quote, you can see that each rectangular section of the back has inset boards. Those are 1x4s that I just cut to the right lengths and used pocket holes to attach them to the plywood dividers and bottom and the 2×4 sides. I also drilled pocket holes to secure the top — those pocket holes are unfilled so you can see them in the photo.

      After that, I tacked the 1/4″ ply to the inside back of the piece. I cut it into three sections, slid it down in, and attached it to the 1x4s that I inset.

      To cover the seams on the inside, I think I trimmed it out with pine screen molding.

      I hope that makes a bit of sense. Good luck!

      Reply
    2. Ben

      Thanks! Will help a lot when I get there…. Had one more quick question. How did you attach your trim on the front??
      The 1x2s @
      75 1/2
      5 5/8
      22 3/8

      Reply
    3. Ben

      Hillary,
      One last quick Question… What did you paint the inside with? Paint/Stain?

      Ps. Thanks for all your help it has made life a lot easier during this project.

      Reply
    4. Hillary

      No problem! I just painted the inside with leftover yellow flat latex paint from another project, and then sealed it with poly. We (we as in me + my friend who was receiving this piece) chose to use the yellow paint partly because we had it on hand and partly to make the inside lighter and easier to see the stuff in the cabinet. Also, that GF milk paint I used on the outside is not cheap, so this saved us a bit of $$. :)

      Reply
  11. Georgia P.

    Hi! Hoping you can clarify what hinges that you used….found the link in the blog above, but a bit confused as to why two different hinges were listed. Can you please explain? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      Hey, Georgia. Yep, I can clarify. The boards for the face frame are the same width as the two outside “walls” of the sideboard (1 1/2″), so the face frame on the outside “walls” sits flush with the inside of the sideboard. When you attach the two outside doors, the hinges need to be flat where they attach to the face frame AND the inside of the “wall” of the sideboard as if it were all one flat surface. The middle doors, on the other hand, attach in a spot where the hinges need to be able to wrap around the back of the 3/4″ thick face frame, so they’re a bit of a different shape. Once you build the piece, it will be really easy to see what I’m talking about. You might be able to see what I mean from some of the photos above, although it’s not super clear. Hope that helps!

      Reply
    2. Hillary

      OH, sorry…my bad. I just went back and looked at the photos really quickly. There is no face frame on the outside panels of the sideboard. So, the hinges there just sit flat against the inside of the panels (outside “walls”). The middle doors need the hinges to be able to wrap around the face frame. Sorry for the confusion.

      Reply
  12. Derrick Escobedo

    Beautiful job Hillary! I had a couple questions about the finish I was hoping you could answer. Did you use the sanding sealer or a primer underneath the yellow latex paint? Did you use the bowling alley wax on the red shelves, and can it be applied to the yellow latex paint instead of using the poly? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      Hi, Derek. I think I just painted straight on the bare wood and there’s been no bleeding or other issues that I know of. Yes, I waxed the red shelves. Yes, I could have waxed the yellow but buffing inside corners is difficult so I poly’d it instead.

      Reply
    2. Derrick Escobedo

      Thanks for the response! My Father-in-Law and I just finished making(2)Media Towers and the Media Console you had featured in Ana’s Book. I really liked the distressed black finish you used in the book, but my wife really loved this rustic red look after checking out your blog. Since A Happy Wife = A Happy Life (and her favorite color is red) she won. Lol. So the plan is to use the rustic red combo for the entire media center, and leave the bare wood in place of the roman shades you used for contrast. In addition, we will probably leave the bare wood inside the cabinets as well and just use the rustic red combo on the shelves. My question is…Can I use Minwax Water Based Polycrylic over the entire piece (bare wood & rustic red areas)? I was thinking it may be easier to do since this is my first finishing of a project. My other option was to use the polycrylic on the bare wood areas and then use the wax you used on the red areas? Oh and one more thing. When I tested the GF Yellow Ochre Glaze on a spare piece i had stained and painted, it turned the red a kind of yellowish brown. It was looking good before, but after that It’s safe to say it didn’t look like your pic anymore. Lol. Did you just apply the glaze on the areas you sanded for the distressed look? Maybe that would lessen the color change of the entire piece? Anyways, thanks for reading this post, and for all your advice and help. I hope to finish this piece this weekend, to put in our new home. Thanks! :)

      Reply
    3. Hillary

      Hi, Derrick! You’re too funny. Yes, keeping your wife happy is of utmost importance. :) And the red really is cool, too. The ochre glaze is very yellow, like it looks like yellow mustard right out of the can, right? I’ve found that if I water it down a lot and wipe it off quickly, I get better results. In retrospect, I probably could have done this project without the ochre glaze because I took off so much of it that the effect was super subtle. It’s just one of those things you’ll have to play with to see if you like it. If you have yellow tones in your house already, it makes sense to keep it. If not, you might want to just skip it.

      Yes, you can use polycrylic on the whole thing or you can use wax on the whole thing. Wax is great over bare wood. Actually, I would say you’d be better off with wax on the whole thing b/c it will eliminate a step for you. If you do polycrylic directly on the bare wood, it will probably raise the grain. So, you’ll either need to brush it with water first and then give it a light sanding to knock down the grain before using the polycrylic, or you’d have to do two coats of polycrylic with one light sanding in between. For the back and the inside sides of the piece, I think 2 coats might be overkill since they won’t ever be touched. For the shelves it makes sense to do more than one coat. Also, with polycrylic you have to sand between coats in order for each successive coat to adhere well. With wax you don’t. You just wax, wait, buff, wax, wait, buff. And buffing is a lot easier than sanding b/c it doesn’t make a mess. But (depending on your wax) do the waxing outside b/c the fumes can be bad.

      Since it’s a piece that won’t be getting a lot of use (unlike a dining room table) I would do wax. Actually, I did do wax on my media center. :) I just think it’s easier and I think the finish is richer looking. Let me know how it goes!

      Reply
  13. john patrick

    I’d like to make this piece but only 3/4 as wide. Thinking I would eliminate one cabinet/drawer module of the four. Does that make sense? Any particular problems come to mind with this idea?
    Thanks,
    John P.

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      No, I think that would work fine. Actually, if you look at the plan, at the top there are some “brag” posts where people eliminated the end module. That might help you picture it. Good luck. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      Reply
  14. Sara Ballard

    I was just hunting on Ana White for a bathroom vanity plan and came across this beautiful sideboard with the name Hillary attached – I knew it had to be you! Love it! Love the red! I need to see the doors up close – I think I have a good idea about the rest of what I want for the vanity but I’m not sorted yet on the doors. I like these doors but doors scare me. You might have to do some teaching!

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      Haha! This sideboard is in Emily’s house. You can definitely come check it out. If I can do the doors, I’m sure you can. I have cabinet clamps you can borrow if you need them.

      Reply
  15. Robyn DiLeone

    Hi Hillary…this is gorgeous! I am thinking of making it to replace a 1/2 wall between my den and eat in kitchen. I was wondering though that you refer to changing the original plans. Could you share the plans. This will be my 1st big carpentry job and just not sure of how to go about it.

    Reply
  16. Cameron Johnson

    So i am engaged in this project as my first one and loving it! as im getting to the point of attaching the top to the base and was wondering where all the points of connection were? I saw in photos and diagram that it uses the plywood dividers and the spacers in the back, but where else does it screw to? it just seems that there would be more, but not sure where.

    do i drill pocket holes in the side panel on both sides and attach there as well?

    thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! You know, I can’t remember whether I put pocket holes in the side panels, but I bet I did, because I’m kind of an over-builder. :) I think it would be a good idea.

      Reply
    2. Cameron Johnson

      Quick Question regarding attaching the top,

      Im using walnut wood, and using “fine” screws, and was wondering if i should still use those screws when attaching the top, or use “coarse” screws, My only concern was that during the moving process of picking it up that those might not hold, but I am not certain how much they can hold due to lack of experience.

      thanks!

      Reply
  17. Brittney Adams

    I was thinking about attaching a hutch to the top of the sideboard and making it about 12″ deep. I am stuck on if I should do the panel look up top and if so what size of panels should I use or go with a solid board. I am so excited to try building this I think I am getting a little ahead of myself.

    Reply
  18. Adam Beck

    Hi Hillary,

    It looks like the links to the cabinet hardware (hinges) no longer work, would you be able to repost a link that works so I could see which hinges you used? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Hillary

      Adam! I’m so sorry I just saw this…a month and a half later. Oops. Check the comment below for links to the ones I used. I will update the link in the post, too. Thanks for letting me know.

      Reply
  19. Robert Sloan

    Hillary,

    This is a great project and one of my first majors. I am at an impasse with the hinges. I have bought at local hardware and they don’t appear to fit properly. By any chance do you remember the order number or actual description from your place of recommendation. I really would like to finish this.

    Thanks

    Bob

    Reply

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