How To Build A Dresser In 24 Easy Steps

Learning how to build a dresser will improve your DIY skills. If you only have one piece of furniture in your bedroom, let it be a dresser.

A dresser isn’t just for clothes. It can hold anything that you want it to and can be shared by multiple people.

How To Build A Dresser Drawer

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The project is not for first-time DIYers. You will need experience before building a  dresser drawers. 

Materials And Tools To Build A Dresser Drawers

First, prepare your plywood. If you have your pieces cut and ready, you’ll be more efficient. You don’t want to cut plywood pieces as you need them.

Required board dimensions:

Dresser Frame

  • 3/4 inch thick wood panels or 3/4 inch plywood
  • Two (2) 16” x 50-1/4 inch for the sides
  • Three (3) 16” x 29-3/4 inch for interior horizontal supports
  • Two (2) 16” x 8-1/4 inch for interior vertical supports
  • Two (2) 16” x 31-1/4 inch for the top and bottom sections 1×2 lumber
  • Four (4) cut to 29-3/4 inch
  • Four (4) cut to 21-1/2 inch

Wood For Drawers:

  • 1×6 lumber: Twelve (12) cut to 14”. Four (4) cut to 5”. Eight (8) cut to 27-1/4 inch
  • 1×3 lumber: Eight (8) cut to 14”. Eight (8) cut to 19 inch
  • 1/4″ plywood: Four (4) cut to 14” x 20-1/2”. Four (4) cut to 14” x 28-3/4 inch
  • Two (2) cut to 14” x 6-1/2 inch

Drawer Faces:

  • 1×4 lumber: Four (4) cut to 21-1/4 inch
  • 1×8 lumber: Two (2) cut to 8 inch
  • Four (4) cut to 29-1/2 inch

Extra Materials:

  • Right angle and regular clamps
  • 1-1/4 inch pocket hole screws
  • Ten (10) sets of 14 inch European style bottom corner mount drawer slides
  • Wood glue
  • 5/8” and 1-1/4 inch brad nails + nailer

How To Build A DIY Dresser: Steps 1-5

The first five steps to get started with building a dresser.

Step 1: Create A Plan

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Before you begin, it’s important to plan everything out. First, find out how big you want your dresser to be. Draw out a dresser first. Then turn it into a plan by adding measurements that will work.

Step 2: Label Dresser Pieces

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First, label your pieces. Approach this project the way you would if it was a model airplane. When you label or number the pieces, the dresser will be easier to assemble.

Write on them which direction they go, which piece they are, and so on. You can sand away the writing later, so feel free to write as much info as you want.

Step 3: Mark Wood Panels

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Taking one of the 50 1/2 inch panels, you need to mark the lines on the inside side panels for horizontal supports. A sketch of your dresser plans would come in handy with this step.  

Square Measure

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A square will ensure straight lines. The measuring tool is universal and worth it. 

Label Pieces: Top Or Bottom

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For the outer sides of each piece, write the letter “X.” 

Step 4: Drill Pocket Holes

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Use your 29-3/4 inches panels that will offer horizontal support. Now, add pocket holes. You’ll drill two pocket holes that will be easy to cover. Drill them at an angle. 

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Add pocket holes to your two smallest wood panels. Make holes on the longer side of the short panels. Drilling pocket holes without a clamp is tricky, but with practice, you’ll become skilled at it. 

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Step 5: Panel Markings

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Use 29-3/4 inch panels and set the pocket-hole-side face down. Then draw a line that is 7-1/2” from one side. Write Xs on the far side of the line. Do the same for the other one and mirror it.

How To Build A DIY Dresser – Steps 6-10

Step 6: Glue First Board

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With the pocket holes facing the short end, place an 8-1/4” panel onto the line of your 29-3/4” slab. If it seems right, then add wood glue to the shortboard and place it back again. This is the exciting first glue!

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After you glue it down, then you can clamp it and screw it down. Screwing at this point is easy with a drill. Just use the holes you made to drill the screws in. Don’t go too far in, just enough that you feel resistance. 

Step 7: Add First Drawer Slide

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It may seem odd to add drawer slides at this point, but it is best to start them now for a couple of reasons. 

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Use a 3/4 inch board and make a mark from the end of the dresser. Next, take the 14 inch European bottom corner mount drawer slides and install the first one to this corner you’ve just made. 

Step 8: Install Other Slide

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Use the other 50-1/4 inch panel that’s already marked. This will be the other side of the dresser. With the 15-3/4 inch mark, you can install the other side of the drawer slide just like you did the first one. 

Step 9: Attach Support Slab

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In order to attach the top horizontal support slab, you need to use either a screwdriver or a long drill bit. A drill won’t fit and if you do get the bit on the screw head, it won’t be straight and will ruin the supports. 

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You can use the extra 8-1/4 inch slab to support the large slab while you work on it. The correct height on the end can be achieved with a second board.

Step 10: Finish Primary Horizontal Supports

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Using the non-pocket-hole side of the third 29-3/4” slab, measure and mark 7-1/2” in from the right side. Glue the second 8-1/4 inch slab onto the far side of the line and screw them in. Attach the slides as done before. 

How To Build A Dresser – Steps 11-15

Step 11: Attach More Slides

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On the long right side slab, attach the drawer slides using the 3/4 board technique at the 8 3/4″ line. You want that 3/4 inch like everywhere a drawer is going to be. Without it, you end up with protruding drawer slides. 

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Drill three pocket holes onto each interior or end (top and bottom) of your two side panels. Make sure they are on the interior or the drawer boxes will be off and you will have more to clean up.

Step 12: Attach The Slabs

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Attach the top and bottom slabs to the sides. Use wood glue and it to the bottom of the plywood panel side slab. Let it sit while clamped and add the pocket screws.

Dresser Body

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Repeat the same process for the other side. If you can get help to hold these up while you glue and screw then please do so. Make sure the corners are square before you attach the top slab to the top of the dresser.

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Step 13: Secure Horizontal Support 

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Slide your horizontal support boards into the frame ensuring everything is facing the right way. Now you can secure the pocket screws. Your dresser drawers are now coming into focus. 

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Use a screwdriver to secure and of the pocket screws that the drill cannot reach. This is time-consuming, but make sure that you screw them in good and straight. You can clamp them down to make sure that they are tight. 

Step 14: Attach Decorative Supports

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Here’s where a nail gun will come in handy. These 1x2s supports don’t offer any support but they are going between the drawers and offer a facing for the dresser. Without them, the dresser would look hollow when the drawers are installed even when closed.

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Drill holes into each board and secure them. Check your dresser sides to make sure they are even. A simple tape measure will ensure the DIY dresser remains balanced.

Step 15: Main Frame

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The main frame is done. You can set the dresser up and check that everything is stable and square. Add covers to the pocket holes.

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Now, you can buy those covers at most hardware stores. They are called pocket hole plugs and they are relatively inexpensive for a large amount. You can also make your own but that is very time-consuming. 

How To Build A Dresser – Steps 16-20

Step 16: Finish Slides

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Now it’s time to finish installing all the drawer slides on your frame. You should have these lines marked. So, install all of the drawer slides, ensuring you have the 3/4 inch space behind them. 

Step 17: Build The Drawers

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It’s finally time to build the drawers! Each drawer will be attached with the front and back faces between the ends of the 14” sideboards. So drill two pocket holes per side of each front and back board. 

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Using the same pocket hole technique, add the first drawer. Next, do the same with each drawer. With a DIY dresser, you can build as many as you want and and at any size.

Step 18: Attach Bottoms

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After you’ve finished building the drawers, check them to make sure they fit into the slots. If you’ve measured the parts, this part should be pretty easy. Try them before proceeding to the next step. 

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Using 1/4″ plywood, attach the bottoms to the drawers with glue. Then use a nail gun to secure the plywood. This process is very simple and difficult to mess up. You can use a hammer instead of a nail gun if you be careful.

Step 19: Attach Slides

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This part is fairly self-explanatory. You want the drawer to be sunken the same amount as the width of the face boards. This is generally somewhere between 1/2″ and 1″ but can be almost any width.

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Attach the mounts and the drawers until you have the complete base and skeleton of the dresser completed. This may be the best part of the project because it’s here that your baby comes to life.

Step 20: Start Building Faces

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Make sure that the faces fit perfectly. There should be about a 1/8” gap around all sides. Then lay the face down below the drawer and mark the position of the vertical part of the drawer slide. This will help you align the drawer face perfectly onto the drawer itself. 

How To Build A Dresser – Steps 20-24

Step 21: Glue Faces Down

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Start making the drawer faces. Pull out each drawer and add glue to them. Clamp each drawer face down. Then, nail each face down. Continue until the faces are secure.

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The dresser drawers should be flush with the face of the dresser and slide in and out with ease. 

Step 22: Sanding

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Sanding will give your dresser a smooth surface. You don’t want wood splinters to be an issue. Use fine-grit sandpaper and sand every inch of your dresser. 

Step 23: Address Imperfections

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Imperfections or knots can be fixed with wood filler. Wood filler is easy to use. The substance will help you achieve a farmhouse or vintage look.

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After the wood filler dries, lightly sand it down. Don’t sand the wood filler away. Instead, lightly sand only the parts that you added wood filler to in order to remove any excess putty that got out of hand. 

Step 24: Paint

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Now it’s time to either paint or stain. We have a full tutorial on painting a dresser that you can follow. After you paint, add hardware. 

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For this particular dresser, we also added some legs that are metal instead of wooden. Overall, the project turned out perfectly! Feel free to make changes if you have experience with building furniture and let us see your masterpiece. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How Do You Build A Dresser Without A Tutorial?

You can build a dresser without a tutorial by using tutorials as your base. After you learn the basics of what a dresser looks like, you can create your own patterns. Build a dresser frame and build the drawers.

Can You Build A Dresser That Is Brand-Name?

You can’t build a brand-name dresser but you can build a copycat. Take a look at each piece of the dresser you are interested in. Then, build each piece and secure them. Building a copycat dresser is an affordable way to get the dresser of your dreams. 

What Can You Build A Dresser Out Of?

You can build a dresser out of anything. Wood is the most popular choice, but plastic works. So does glass, metal, and stone. Wood is the easiest to work with but you can build a dresser out of anything that you feel comfortable using.

Can You Build A Dresser Out Of Pallets?

Yes. A pallet dresser is a good way to use extra pallets and get a cool dresser. To build a dresser out of pallets, stack the pallets to ensure you will have enough. Then, take the project step by step. 

Build A Dresser: Wrap Up

A drawer dresser project is time well spent. Who doesn’t need a dresser for their clothes? If you don’t need one, make one for a friend and give it to them for their birthday. 

If you have the skills, build a mid century modern dresser. You could make it with six drawers or more. It will depend on your materials. After you sit down and start thinking about what you want to build, you’ll discover there are so many styles to choose from.

Make a materials list before you begin. Your local home center will have everything you need. If you enjoyed building the dresser drawer featured here, your next project should be your own design.