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How to Build Furniture

How to Build a Telephone Stand

The edged top keeps telephone and note pads in place.

If you want a special spot for your desk-style telephone, this easy-to-build combination telephone stand/cabinet keeps phone, note pad and pencil, and telephone directories in one convenient place. With everything in one spot, you'll also save space and hide clutter, while adding an interesting piece of furniture to your home.


  • measuring rule
  • pencil
  • square
  • straightedge
  • power saw
  • hammer
  • miter box
  • handsaw
  • coping saw
  • screwdriver
  • nail set
  • paintbrushes


  • 3/4-inch grade A-B plywood
  • carpenters' glue
  • 6-penny finishing nails
  • shelf-edge molding
  • 1-inch brads
  • 1 × 2 clear pine stock
  • two 7 × 23-inch stock louvered doors
  • two cabinet knobs
  • four decorative surface-mount hinges
  • two cabinet door roller-catch assemblies
  • wood putty
  • sandpaper
  • primer
  • latex paint

Time: about 3 to 4 hours, plus finishing timeBegin the project by cutting the six main pieces of the telephone stand from 3/4-inch plywood. Be sure to cut all pieces with the plywood face grain running parallel to the long dimension:


  • bottom,14 × 14 3/16 inches
  • two sides, 14 × 23 7/8 inches each
  • top, 15 × 17 inches
  • back, 14 3/16 × 23 1/8 inches

Next, lay the back piece on a flat working surface and apply a bead of carpenters' glue along one of its long edges. Stand the bottom piece up against the glued edge, with the corners of the pieces flush. Nail the bottom to the back with four 6-penny finishing nails.Lay the glued and nailed assembly on its side and run a bead of glue along the uppermost edge. Set a side piece into place so that the top corners meet, the bottom edge of the side is flush with the bottom surface of the bottom piece, and one side edge is flush with the outside surface of the back. Nail the side into place with three 6-penny finishing nails, which should be spaced and driven into the edge of the bottom. Finish securing the piece by driving five more nails into the edge of the back of the telephone stand. Turn the assembly over, and repeat these steps to attach the other side piece.Set the assembly upright and run a bead of glue along the top edges of the back and side pieces. Set the top piece into place so that the rear edge is flush with the back surface of the cabinet, leaving a 1-inch lip at the front and centering the top so there's a lip of about 3/4-inch at each side. Secure the top with three 6-penny finishing nails along each side and four more across the back, driven down into the edges; space the nailing line along the sides 1 3/32 inch in from the edge of the top piece.Cut a 10 × 14 3/16-inch piece of plywood for the shelf, and check it for a snug fit between the sides of the stand. With a measuring rule, square, and pencil, locate and mark a guideline across the inside face of each side piece, 10 3/8 inches up from the inside face of the bottom piece. Apply glue to the back and side edges of the shelf and slip it into place, aligned on the guidelines.Next, draw light pencil guidelines on the sides and back of the cabinet to mark the edges of the shelf. Secure the shelf with three 6-penny finishing nails, which should be driven through the sides and into each end of the shelf. Drive four more nails through the back of the cabinet into the edge of the shelf.

Inside the telephone stand, the shelf is set back to provide easy access to bottom storage.

Lay the telephone stand on its back. Cut strips of shelf-edge molding to fit all the front edges of the plywood pieces -- top, bottom, sides, and shelf. Fit the molding exactly, using either butt or mitered joints. Apply glue to the edges and secure the strips with 1-inch brads set about 6 inches apart.

Cut two lengths of 1 × 2 pine stock to 15 3/4 inches, plus the thickness of the shelf edging -- the edging will probably be 3/8 inch thick, but this can vary slightly. Round the top of one end of each edging piece to a radius of about 3/4 inch or to a gentle curve. Just be sure the two pieces are identical and well-rounded.

Apply a bead of glue along the side edges of the top piece of the telephone stand's cabinet. Secure each pine strip with three 6-penny finishing nails, placing the rounded end forward and flush at the front and back, with the bottom edge aligned with the bottom surface of the top piece. Drive the nails into the edges of the top piece.

Cut a 17-inch-long piece of 1 × 2 pine stock. Apply glue to the rear edge of the top piece and to the ends of the pine strip. Position this strip between the first two pine strips, with the top edges flush, and secure it with four evenly spaced 6-penny finishing nails. Then align the top corners and drive two more 6-penny nails through the side strips into the ends of the back strip.

Mount a cabinet knob on each door, on the longitudinal centerline of the door and 6 inches down from the top. Mount hinges on each door, on opposite sides, with the top of the top hinges 4 inches down from the top of each door and the bottom of the bottom hinges 4 inches up from the bottom of the door.

Set each door into place and adjust it so that there is a 1/16-inch clearance at the top, bottom, and side. Secure the hinges to the stand's edges, then center each screw exactly in the hinge mounting hole and drive it perfectly straight to align the door properly.

Mount the roller catches to latch the doors, following the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Then set a catch on the inside of each side of the top piece, with each catch centered on the longitudinal centerline of the inside door frame -- in line with the knob.

Remove the doors and take the hardware off. With a hammer and nail set, sink all visible nailheads slightly below the surface of the wood. Fill the nailhead holes and any imperfections in the joints or wood surfaces with wood putty, then sand both the cabinet and the doors smooth.

To finish the stand, apply a coat of primer, followed by two coats of interior semigloss latex (or other) paint.

When dry, place your phone on top of the telephone stand and anything you're likely to need while making a call inside the cabinet.

To further add to your home's distinction and organization, continue to the next page to build a plant stand.

For more ideas related to creating your own furniture, see:

  • How to Repair Wooden Furniture: You don't have to start from scratch and make new furniture. Learn how to repair the wooden pieces you already have.
  • How to Stain Wooden Furniture: Staining wooden furniture adds protection as well as beautiful color, and when you do it yourself, you can get just the shade you want. Follow this link for instructions on staining pieces you've purchased or handmade.
  • A Guide to Decorating Wooden Furniture: Wooden furniture can be decorated to fit any design scheme or color palette. Use this guide to transform simple items into elegant, finished pieces that will accent your home.