The look I'm going for on the nightstands is a high gloss emerald green. The master bedroom is mostly neutral colored, so I want them to stand out like big emerald jewels - the furniture equivalent of Angelina Jolie's Oscar earrings.
After building the new bases, I filled all of the dings and screw holes with wood filler. I prefer the stuff in the tub and generally spread it on with my fingers. Overfill it, because it might shrink as it dries. Make sure you wait the appropriate time, then sand, fill some more, and then sand again. I know it's ready when I can close my eyes and run my hand over the wood and not feel any imperfections. You cannot use paint to fill in these imperfections, it will only exaggerate them, especially in a glossy finish, so get the wood filler right.
Once I felt everything was consistently smooth, I moved on to priming. I bought this primer at Lowes for about $7 for a quart. It's water-based and cleaned up nicely. I used a 1-inch angled brush to get into crevices and corners, followed by a four-inch foam roller (the one specifically made for cabients).
Here's the cabinets after one coat of primer. You do not need a solid look to the paint, just enough to help the paint stick. This was enough for me, so I stopped after one coat and moved onto the fun part - the final color! I'll save those pictures for later, but I'm super excited about how it's looking so far.