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Since the day we moved into our house, our dining room table hasn’t been centered on our light or our windows and it drove me CRAZY.
The problem was, if it was centered, there was a big awkward gap on one side of the table and that awkward gap made the space between the table and the door seem really small.
After two years, I finally figured out a solution: a narrow buffet.
The space wasn’t wide enough for a typical buffet you’d buy, but that’s alright. I’d rather DIY anyway.
Building the buffet was the easy part. The hard part was picking the absolute perfect finish for our new piece.
After staring at 20+ beautiful stain options for a week, we finally landed on the perfect finish. It has a special last step that we’d never tried before, but it’s safe to say we’ll be using it again.
P.S. If you’re just curious about how we stained and finished this beautiful piece (I don’t blame you), jump down to step 13.
Alright, let’s start DIYing!
- Miter saw
- Circular Saw with track
- Kreg K4 or any pocket hole jig
- Nail gun
- Electric sander
- Table saw
- Optional: drawer slide jig
- Optional: shelf pin jig
What You’ll Need
Download the free cut-list at the bottom of this post for exact quantities of wood.
- 3/4″ 4×8 oak plywood
- 1/4″ 4×8 oak plywood
- 1x3x8 oak
- 1x2x8 oak
- 1x6x6 oak
- 1x8x6 oak
- 1/4x2x4 oak
- 2x2x3 oak
- 10″ drawer slides
- Shelf pins
- 6 knobs
- 8 hinges
- #6 3/4″ screws
- 1.25″ Kreg screws
- 1.25″ Nails
- 4 – Corner brace
- 4 – Magnetic door catch
- Wood glue
- Minwax Stainable Wood Filler
- 80, 120, 150 and 220 sandpaper
- Minwax Water Based Wood Conditioner
- Minwax Design Series Color Wash in White Wash
- Minwax Design Series Grain Highlighting Finishing Wax
- Minwax Polycrylic Spray
- Clean rags
- Purdy XL brushes (I used 1″ on the doors and 2″ on the console)
You can find all these Minwax products at your local Lowe’s or Menards.
Prefer printable plans? Grab your printable DIY sideboard plans HERE.
How to Make a DIY Sideboard
New to DIY? Download our free 5 Steps to Getting Start with DIY guide!
STEP 1: MAKE THE LEGS
Start by cutting your legs to height based on the printable cut-list in the plans.
Then, taper the legs. You can either create a jig for your miter saw or table saw to accurately taper your legs. We tapered our legs on just one side at 7-degrees.
In hindsight, I would’ve tapered the legs on two sides so that they looked tapered from both the front and side.
STEP 2: MAKE THE FRONT FACE FRAME
Make your face frame cuts according to the printable cut list and plans. You can also cut the (2) 1x2s needed for the back.
Drill 2 pocket holes on each end of every piece. Every piece will be assembled using glue and 1.25″ screws.
Pocket holes are the foundation of most DIY furniture. Become a pocket hole pro in less than an hour in Pocket Holes: Explained.
First, attach two of the legs (taper side facing in so that the legs look angled when viewing from the front) using the 55″ 1×3 up top and the 55″ 1×2 on the bottom.
The 1×3 should be flush with the top while the 1×2 is 4″ from the floor.
Then, secure the 25.25″ 1×2 in the center of the face frame (26.75″ from each side).
Attach the 26.75″ 1x2s to the legs and middle 1×2. It should be placed 4″ from the bottom of the 1×3. You can also place your drawer fronts to mock up the spacing.
Add the vertical 1x2s that will be between the doors on each side. They should be placed 12.625″ from the legs and middle support.
STEP 3: MAKE THE SIDES
Cut your plywood down to size according to the cut list.
Drill 4 pocket holes on the long sides of the plywood. These will be used to attach the plywood to the legs.
Then glue a 1×2 on the top and bottom of each side. These boards should be on the opposite side of the pocket holes.
When the sides are assembled, the 1x2s will be flush with the sides of the legs, giving the appearance of a frame on each side.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE
Attach the back legs to the horizontal 1x2s.
The top 1×2 should be flush with the top of the legs and the bottom 1×2 should be 4″ from the ground. Both 1x2s should be indented .25″ from the back of the legs so that we can attach the .25″ plywood back later.
Tip: place two of the 1/4″ boards that you’ll use for the shutter doors underneath the back 1x2s to get them indented. The pocket holes can be facing the back.
Attach the sides to both the front and back frames.
STEP 5: ADD THE BOTTOM
Cut your plywood for the bottom. Cut the bottom supports according to the cut list and add two pocket holes on each end.
Test your plywood bottom. If it’s a tight fit, go ahead and get it into place (we had to use a rubber mallet on ours) so that it’s flush with the top of the front and back 1x2s.
If it’s not a tight fit and your bottom isn’t going to hold itself in place, install the bottom supports first.
It’s okay if your supports aren’t perfectly flush with the bottom of the front and back 1x2s. The key is that the plywood top is flush with the top of those 1x2s.
Add glue to the 1×2 bottom supports and then set the plywood in place. Pop a few 1.25″ nails into the plywood and 1x2s to secure it further.
STEP 6: ADD THE MIDDLE DIVIDER
Cut your middle divider according to the cut list and then add pocket holes to one side that will attach to the face frame middle support and to the bottom.
The divider should be flush at the front and line up with the back of the bottom piece of plywood. Once we install the back, there will be a .5″ gap between the divider and the back. If this bothers you, you can make the divider shorter and wider to extend underneath the top 1x2s.
STEP 7: MAKE THE TOP
Before we add the top, we’ll have to make it 😉 Don’t worry, it’s super simple.
Cut your 1x8s to size and then add pocket holes along the sides that will be joined together. Alternate sides and place a pocket holes approximately every 6 inches.
Glue and screw your two 1x8s together to make the top.
Make sure to clamp along the way so that the seam between your board is as close to flush as possible. We’ll sand down any lips in a bit.
STEP 8: MAKE THE DOORS
We’re going to rely on the power of glue to assemble these doors.
First cut a few 1x2s into your rails and stiles.
Remember, it’s always more accurate to cut as you go along, so double measure all of your openings and make sure your total door size is 3/16 – 1/8″ smaller than your opening both vertically and horizontally.
Cut your 1/4″ oak boards to the exact width of your rails (aka the horizontal ones).
As you’re cutting, sort your wood into 4 piles, one for each door.
You want a variety of wood grains and colors on each doors, so each door should get a piece from each individual board rather than all 5 pieces from a board going towards one door.
You need a total of 13 slats/door.
Once you have everything cut, mark 1/4″ from the bottom on each slat. These lines will be your guide on where to glue and where to position each slat. We used our multi-mark tool to make this process quick and easy.
Once everything is marked, take a spare 1/4″ piece and position it slightly underneath your first slat so that it is slightly angled.
Run a bead of glue all the way across the top 1/4″ of the slat and place another slat on top of it. Hold for at least 30 seconds to help the glue set.
If any glue dripped out, wipe it off.
Repeat until you get to the last piece.
Note: it’s helpful to have your 1x2s close by so that you can roughly mock-up the door with each slat. This will help line up the slats on either side and ensure there aren’t any big gaps on either side.
Once you get to this piece, mock-up the door by positioning the bottom 1×2 flush with the bottom slat and rest of the 1x2s in the position they’ll be when you make the door.
Then place your last slat so that it’s flush with the bottom of the top 1×2, even if it’s not perfectly lined up with your typical 1/4″ overlap.
Let the slats dry in place for at least an hour.
Once the glue has dried. Take a spare 1/4″ board and place it underneath the slats so that the bottom of the bottom slat is flush with the top of the bottom 1×2. You won’t attach this board. It’s just used for spacing and you can remove it after the glue has dried.
Add glue on the sides of every slat that will be touching a 1×2. Add glue to the sides of the rails.
Position the slats and 1x2s how you like them and clamp in place. Let it dry for at least 1 hour before un-clamping.
STEP 9: MAKE THE SHELVES
The shelves are super simple to make. Simply cut your plywood to size and then iron-on edge banding across the front of the shelf to get rid of that dreaded plywood edge.
Here’s a step-by-step tutorial if you’ve never applied edge banding before.
Now we need a way to hang the shelves. We used our adjustable shelf pin jig to quickly add holes to the front and back of the plywood sides.
You can place your shelves wherever you see fit. We wanted ours close to the middle, but tall enough to store some vases, so we added holes for the adjustable shelf pins approximately 10-12″ from the bottom.
STEP 10: MAKE THE DRAWERS
Cut your plywood according to the cut list.
Drill pocket holes on your drawer bottoms and sides.
Add edge banding to the top of each of your pieces so that your drawers look solid from the top when you pull them out.
Assemble your drawer boxes (without the front for now) using glue and 1.25″ screws. Don’t attach the front just yet.
Since you’ll have your saw out, cut your .25″ plywood for the back.
STEP 11: DRILL FOR HARDWARE
Even though we’ll take the hardware off before staining, I’d recommend drilling for your hardware ahead of time.
That way, if you make a mistake, you can patch the hole and make your repairs without having to break out your stain or paint again.
Since I have four doors, I’ll make a jig to get the exact placement on each of the doors.
To do this, grab a spare 1×2 and mark the center. Measure 9.75″ down from the top and drill all the way through the 1×2.
Then, line your jig up with the top of your cabinets doors on the side that you want to install the hardware and clamp it into place.
Drill through the hole in your jig to create the hole on your door for hardware.
For the drawers, find the exact center of each board and drill on through.
STEP 12: SAND
Since I’m working with oak and don’t have any major dents to work out, I’ll start sanding with 120 grit sandpaper. Then I’ll quickly hit everything with 180 grit.
Finally, I’ll go over the whole piece one more time with a 220-grit sanding block to get an extra smooth finish.
If you added any wood filler, make sure to sand off any excess wood filler that is not directly filling the hole or gap you’re trying to cover.
Once everything is sanded down, wipe down the surface with tack cloth to remove any excess dust.
STEP 13: APPLY PRE-STAIN WOOD CONDITIONER
We got our Minwax Pre Stain Water-Based Wood Conditioner and everything else used to finish this table at our local Lowe’s Home Improvement Store.
Using a pre-stain wood conditioner is especially important when staining softwoods such as pine and common boards. It helps even out your finish and avoid blotches, which are very common for softwoods.
Even though we are using a hardwood (oak), we’re still going to apply pre-stain to get the most even finish possible and to help prevent the grain from raising.
When using water-based products, it will do something called “raise the grain”. Essentially, it makes your wood surface rough and it won’t look nearly as smooth, even if you sanded before.
Because we don’t want to sand after applying the color wash, we’re going to apply pre-stain.
The pre-stain raises the grain and will minimize the amount the color wash or stain raises the grain.
We applied one-coat of pre-stain with a clean cloth, waited 5 minutes for it to absorb, then wiped off any excess.
Since the water-based pre-stain raises the grain, we waited 15 minutes after applying and then sanded the buffet with 220-grit sandpaper to get it nice and smooth and prepped for the color wash.
If you’re using an oil-based stain, you’ll want to choose the oil-based conditioner. For a water-based stain, use the water-based conditioner.
I ended up using less than a quarter can of the pre-stain on this project.
STEP 14: STAIN
Since we sanded between pre-stain and staining, I wiped the buffet with a clean cloth to remove any lingering dust.
Now it’s time to break out the stain, or in our case, a color wash. We’re using Minwax Design Series Color Wash in White Wash.
For this buffet, we didn’t want it to look brand new. We wanted to give it some character and age so it felt like a piece that had been around for awhile.
The Minwax Color Wash series is great for just that. You can layer it over bare wood or any existing stain to quickly add some subtle character.
To apply it, we used a Purdy XL brush to brush the color wash on against the grain. Yes, I really said against the grain.
I worked in small sections and wiped off the color wash with a clean rag immediately after applying. Again, wipe against the grain.
Since it’s a water-based option, it dries really fast. Don’t leave it on for more than 2 minutes, or you might find that you can’t wipe it off.
But hey, that quick dry-time means we also don’t have to wait too long to call this buffet finished.
I used about a third of the can of color wash to coat the sideboard and doors.
(Buffet? Sideboard? I really don’t know what to call this thing!)
STEP 15: ADD GRAIN HIGHLIGHTING WAX
Even though the DIY buffet looked great at this point, we wanted it to be extra special, so we decided to add Minwax Grain Highlighting Wax to the entire sideboard.
The wax whitens the grain, giving the wood even more character than just the stain. I think it gives it a lightly distressed look, which is just so beautiful to me.
After the color wash dried for an hour, I wiped everything down to make sure no dust particles found their way onto my sideboard.
Then I opened the Design Series Grain Highlighting Wax and mixed it up.
I used a cloth to apply it in a circular motion.
Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then wipe any excess off against the grain. I know it seems wrong, but just do it.
I ended up using about 3/4 of a can of Grain Highlighting Wax.
Overall, the entire finishing process from pre-stain to finishing wax (including dry-time) took about 6 hours.
Check out more staining and finishing options here.
STEP 16: ADD POLYCRYLIC
Since we only used the highlighting wax on the outside of the cabinet, we wanted to make sure to seal the inside. We sprayed the inside and the shelves with 3 coats of Polycrylic, waiting 30 minutes between each coat.
Note: do not apply the Polycrylic over the highlighting wax, just on the interior of the buffet and the drawers.
STEP 17: INSTALL DOORS AND DRAWERS
For the drawers, we used our drawer slide jig to install the drawer slide hardware.
Once the drawers are installed, it’s time to tackle the doors.
Start by attaching the hinges to the side of your doors. Place them approximately 2.75″ from the top and bottom.
Then attach the hinges to the buffet.
Once the doors are in, install your magnetic door catches.
STEP 18: ATTACH THE TOP
The top will have a 1″ overhang on each side, 1/2″ overhang on the front, and 1/4″ overhang in the back.
Attach the top using corner brackets, 2 on each side.
STEP 19: ATTACH THE BACK
If you haven’t already, insert your shelves. It’ll be easier to insert them through the back now than trying to wiggle them through the front later.
To attach the back, all you need to do is position it on the back, and add a total of 6 screws to the top and bottom 1×2.
Since we indented the 1x2s on the back, the plywood should sit flush with the back of the legs.
STEP 20: INSTALL HARDWARE
Finally, all that’s left to do now is to actually install your hardware. You should have all of your holes drilled and ready to go, so it’s just a matter of screwing in each of the knobs.
There you have it! Now you know how to build your very own DIY buffet with shutter doors. We don’t have any china to store in it, so I guess it’s just going to hold 50 different tablecloth and napkin options. I’m okay with that 😉
For more inspiration from Minwax, visit minwax.com.
This is gorgeous, Zoe! The finish on it is just perfect!
You’re so sweet!! Thank you! Good ‘ol Minwax coming in with the perfect finish 🙂
I love your sideboard Zoe ! I could never dream of making something so fabulous.
I’d love for you to share your post with us at Meraki Link Party at https://doodlebuddies.net/2020/08/24/meraki-link-party-2/
Have a nice day
Hi, Zoe! Did you use red or white oak for this project? I’m assuming you used white oak but secretly hoping you will say red because that’s what our cabinets are. 😝 This is one of the prettiest white finishes I have researched a ton! Thanks for the thorough tutorial!
Hi Laura! You’re too sweet!! I have good news: we used red oak. It wasn’t overly red to begin with, but still technically red oak. If you try it out, be sure to test it on one before doing them all. Every piece of wood tends to react a little bit differently!