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.
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- 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)
For the record, this dresser was a hot mess and I knew it would be a challenge. I did a fair amount of work to 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, its wood on wood. The perfect base for a DIY shelf. Measure the inside of the space from front to back and side to side… being 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. With a family of handymen, it was a common phrase I heard a lot 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 over-rated? 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 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 any questions you may have about how to add 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.
Love thrift furniture makeovers like these? I’d love to share more with you. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter and get all the deets before anyone else. And as always, I’d love to hear your feedback on this process of how to add shelves to a dresser.
Until the next project… xo, Do