Hands using an orbital sander on a piece of small light colored wood clamped to workbench with orange clamps

How To Refurbish A Dresser

Originally contributed by Ali Carroll • last updated 3/30/2021

3.5 hrsTime
IntermediateDifficulty
$75Cost
3.5 hrsTime
IntermediateDifficulty
$75Cost

Does your home look like a mismatched collection of things rather than a cohesive room design? Instead of spending a ton of money on a new matching furniture set, why not just upcycle the old?

Learn how to turn boring furniture into a modern showstopper with this simple DIY dresser design!

Let's Make It

Equipment

  • Miter Saw
  • Cordless Drill
  • Pocket Hole Jig System
  • Basic Tool Kit
  • Micro Handed Bar Clamps

Materials

  • Dresser
  • Two Pieces of 2" x 2" x 8' Furring Strip Board
  • One Piece of 1” x 2” x 8’ Pine Furring Strip Board
  • Six Pieces of 1” x 1” x 36” Pine Square Dowel
  • Eight 2” x 2” x 6” Table Legs
  • Clear Wood Glue
  • One Pack of 1-½” Pocket Screws
  • Interior Wood Stain
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Cloth or Rag
  • Face Mask, Safety Goggles, and Ear Protection
01/20

Cut Pine Board Anchors For The Base

Step one of any dresser makeover is removing all of the drawers from your old dresser. Once you’ve removed all that extra weight, flip the dresser upside down so you can see what you’re working with. 

Lower budget dressers like the one I’m refurbishing are often made with particle board, which is a light wood chip composite that tends to split apart any time you screw into it.

This dresser has three particle board legs, so instead of screwing directly into them I’m going to create wooden anchors to attach to them.

Measuring the width and depth of each dresser leg, cut three identical pieces of wood from the 1” x 2” x 8’ pine furring strip board.

02/20

Add Pocket Holes To Anchors

Using a pocket hole jig system, drill three pocket holes widthwise along the wide side of the pine board anchors you just cut, spaced evenly down the board. These pocket holes will act as a guide later on when we screw into the new base we’re building. 

03/20

Glue Anchors To Dresser

Using clear wood glue, glue the three anchors you just cut to the sides of the old dresser legs (flush to the bottoms of them) and clamp them into place with bar clamps until the glue dries. Let it cure overnight.

Before gluing, make sure your pocket holes are facing up towards the ceiling so that you can screw them into the new base of your refurbished dresser later on.

04/20

Cut The Pieces For The New Base

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Measure the size of the old dresser base, then cut two pieces of 2” x 2 ”x 8’ furring strip board to the same length. 

Next, measure four smaller pieces of the furring strip board to the same width as the old base, remembering to subtract the width of the two longer board pieces.

Before cutting these shorter pieces, I decided to add a half inch to each of them so that the front and back of the base would stick out a quarter inch. It’s not necessary for the design, but I find that it helps to add a little bit of extra stability and design intrigue to our DIY dresser. 

05/20

Add Pocket Holes

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Using a pocket hole jig system, drill a single pocket hole into each end of the four smaller width pieces. 

There should be 8 holes in total.

06/20

Assemble The New Base

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Assemble your frame with the pieces you just cut, spacing out the four width pieces (pocket hole side up) so that the base is sectioned evenly into thirds. 

07/20

Glue And Screw The New Base Together

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Add a dab of wood glue to each end of the 4 smaller pieces and screw them into place, using the pocket holes to guide them into the two longer boards.

And that’s it for the base! You’ve now made a basic frame, the perfect support for our newly refurbished dresser.

08/20

Position The Base And Align The Legs

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Next, pick up your new frame and position it onto the upturned base of the dresser to make sure you’re happy with the fit.

Grab your 2” x 2” x 6” table legs and space them out evenly along the frame, four in the corner, and four aligned with the other two width pieces. 

09/20

Drill Pilot Holes For Your Legs

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Marking the center of the spot where each leg is placed, drill pilot holes into the new frame for your legs to screw into. 

10/20

Dry Fit The Legs

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Before securing the table legs with glue I like to dry fit each of them to double check their positioning. 

Screwing each leg into the pilot holes by hand, decide whether you need to make any adjustments to the placement of your dresser legs.

11/20

Stain The New Base And Legs

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Working over an old sheet or something you don’t mind getting dirty, use an old cloth or rag to apply wood stain evenly to the legs and frame. I used Verathane’s interior wood stain in Special Walnut for a nice warm color that contrasts the white.

12/20

Glue And Screw The New Base To The Dresser

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Once the stain is dry, start by gluing the frame to the base of the old dresser using wood glue. Then screw through the anchors you attached in Step 3 up into the new base using 1-½" pocket screws. 

13/20

Glue And Screw The Legs To The Base

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Add a spot of glue to the screw end of each leg, then screw them into your pilot holes with your hand until they’re completely snug.

I used Loctite Power Grab Adhesive for this portion of the build and gave it an hour to cure.

14/20

 Add Extra Pine Board To Fill Gap

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After the glue dries completely, flip the dresser over and replace the drawers. 

If your old dresser is anything like mine, you may find that you now have a gap where the bottom of the dresser and the new frame meet. To cover this gap, measure and cut two pieces of 1” x 2” x 8’ Pine Furring Strip Board to fit. 

Apply the same stain as before, then glue it into place when it’s finished drying. 

15/20

Cut Handles

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If your old dresser already has handles, unscrew them from each of the drawers. 

I wanted my new handles to stand out and be on the bigger side, so after picking up six 1” x 1” x 36” Pine Square Dowels from Lowe’s, I cut each handle to be 22” long, almost the full width of the drawers. 

16/20

Cut Handle Spacers

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Using the same 1” x 1” x 36” Pine Square Dowel, cut twelve 1” x 1” x 1” cubes (two per handle). These pieces will act as spacers, allowing room for your hand when opening and closing the drawers on your DIY dresser.

17/20

Stain Handles And Spacers

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Next, stain all six handles and all twelve spacers, and then wait for them to dry completely.

18/20

Screw The Spacers Into The Drawer

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Once the stain is dry, hold your handles up so that they’re centered on each drawer, then make a pencil mark on the back where the old handle holes line up. 

Next, make a pencil mark on the back of the spacers right at the center point, and drill a small pilot hole in that spot. 

Hold each of your spacers up to the drawer so that the old handle holes are lined up with the freshly drilled pilot holes. Using a 1-½” pocket screw, drill part of the way into each spacer from inside of the drawer.

19/20

Glue And Screw The Handles Into Place

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Placing a dab of wood glue onto each spacer, line the handles up using the marks you made in the previous step and hold them in place. Drill the screws the rest of the way through the spacers and into the handles.

20/20

You Made A Refurbished Dresser!

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And that’s it! This refurbished dresser technique is an amazing way to give a boring dresser a much needed personality boost. Instantly go from bland, massed produced furniture to one-of-a-kind statement pieces without breaking the bank!

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