Hello friends! Have you ever passed up those old dressers because of broken drawers? Me too! But not anymore. Today I’m sharing a quick fix and how to add shelves to a dresser with broken drawers. It’s a great space for quilts, towels, books, or just pretty home decor. Let’s get started.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
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How To Add Shelves To A Dresser – Before
- Old broken down JANKY dresser (my fave!)
- Tape Measure
- 1/8 inch Birch Plywood
- Carpenter’s Pencil
- Circular Saw
- Framing Square
- Sanding Blocks (to smooth the wood edges of the shelves)
- Wood Glue
- Finishing Nails (to secure the wood shelves after gluing in place)
- Nail Punch (countersink tool for nails)
- Wood Filler (for nail holes in wood)
This dresser was a hot mess for the record, and I knew it would be a challenge. I did a fair amount of work on this dresser before this point of the makeover. But if you want to get a better visual of how it looked when I picked it up, CLICK HERE to see the nightmare repairs I got into before adding shelves to this dresser.
Firstly, you need to know the older dressers are better for this modification of adding shelves since there are no slides to remove; it’s wood on wood—the perfect base for a DIY shelf. Measure the inside of the space from front to back and side to side… Be mindful of where the shelf will start and stop and be flush with the dresser front.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
So as the saying goes, “measure twice and cut once.” These words of wisdom ring loud inside my head every time I pull out my tape measure. It was a common phrase I heard a lot with a family of handymen when I was growing up. Sometimes, head nodding would accompany those words as I watched my older brother with a saw in his hand. I knew exactly what that meant. It meant wasting time and material. So double-check your measurements before you cut the plywood for the shelves in your dresser.
Tips For Straight Cuts
You’ll want a straight line to guide your saw, so be sure to use a framing square or another straight edge to mark your plywood before cutting. Do you know how I always say perfectionism is overrated? Well, this isn’t one of those times. Adding shelves to a dresser takes a bit of precision, and you want those straight edges, especially across the front of the dresser, because nothing stands out more than a crooked cut.
The Right Tool For The Job
Now for the cut! I like to use a circular saw with a laser guide. I don’t have a large table saw, so this works for me. A steady hand is also a great tool when you’re adding shelves to a dresser.
Securing The Plywood Shelves In The Dresser
After cutting and sanding the raw wood edges, insert the plywood pieces into the slots inside the wood drawer openings. This can be a bit tricky to fit sometimes, so it may take a little finesse. Working with these tight spaces can be a challenge but well worth the extra fuss. Add wood glue, finish nails, and finally countersink the nails into the wood and fill the holes with a wood filler.
Ha! Check out my use of left-over paint. They make great weights and hold down the plywood while the glue is drying. Use whatcha got!
So what do you think? Is this DO-able for you? I sure hope this helps answer any questions you may have about adding shelves to a dresser. And… now, this dresser has a cool new makeover too. CLICK HERE to see the restoration hardware finish I gave it.
Until the next project… xo, Do
Great find and fix my friend. Love these janky ol’ pieces that can be brought back to life! 🙂
Thanks, Denise. So glad you agree! I love a good challenge. xo, Do 🙂
Wow- circular saw? Pretty sure that’s beyond my skill set? Not even sure what “counter sink” a nail means?
Well, Lyn… it’s never too late to learn. 🙂
It will be great to see a video of this process instead of pictures.
Is a little scary.
Duly noted Ms Martha. ? Next time I build shelves I’ll do my best to create a video on it. xo ?
Agreed! A video would be ideal, please make one for us and post it when you can.
Thank you for sharing this and hope to see more stuff from you!
The next time I build shelves, I sure will! Do 🙂
I purchased a dresser that was already done with the shelves in hopes of turning it into a bathroom vanity but seems to be more trouble than it’s worth. So I would like to put in baskets so it looks repurposed and meant to be this way but not very easy to find the right size baskets. Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance.
Measure the openings and then do a search on Amazon with those specific measurements. You’ll be surprised by what is available. I hope this helps. 🙂 xo