Build Your Own DIY Dresser

I love a good DIY Dresser.  Clearly, because I’ve built several.  Each one has it’s own personality and it’s own design.  But this one is probably my all time favorite.

How to Build Your Own DIY Dresser with Full Video and step by step tutorial--traditional dresser using vanity legs

I think it’s the legs.  Who doesn’t love a nice set of legs?? 😉 HAHA!  But really, I think these legs really make the piece stand out and know what’s funny?  They’re actually vanity legs–not dresser legs.  I actually used some exactly like it to build a bathroom vanity a while back.

How to Build a DIY Single Bathroom Vanity

(Side note: this vanity was supposed to go in our old house bathroom remodel and we were going to have two matching vanities just like this.  But when we decided to sell the old house I never got around to building the second one, and we kept this one to put it in our new house bathroom–but painted it grey because apparently Danny “can’t stand navy” *rolls eyes* But I saved the extra set of legs until I could find a good use for them and this dresser eventually came along.)

Build Your Own DIY Five Drawer Dresser with Traditional Style Legs--Free Video Tutorial and Step by Step How To

I think it was the perfect way to finally use those vanity legs.  I built this as a changing table/dresser for a friend of mine’s baby and I really wish I could have kept it for myself.  But I didn’t have room in my tiny garage house for anything else, so it’s probably for the best I just have the pictures of it haha.

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So if you are ready to get building your own DIY dresser just like this one, I’ve got the YouTube video tutorial here and the step by step directions below…as usual 🙂

This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure policy.

For this build you will need:

(4) Vanity Legs (if you want more simple legs, you could also use 4×4 legs instead)

(2) Sheets 3/4″ Plywood

(2) Sheets 1/4″ Plywood

(3) 2x2x8 boards

(2) 1x2x8 boards

Circular Saw

Kreg Rip Cut

Kreg AccuCut

Miter Saw

Table Saw or Router (optional for drawer dadoes)

Drill

Pocket Hole Jig

1 1/4″ pocket hole screws

2 1/2″ pocket hole screws

2″ wood screws

Wood Glue

Edge Banding

(5) pair 16″ drawer slides

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Cut List:

(4) Legs 32 1/4″ long

(4) 2×2 @ 13″ long (side panel frames)

(2) 3/4″ plywood 13″ x 22 1/2″ (side panels)

(4) 2×2 @ 48″ (dresser frame)

(2) 1×2 @ 48″ (long dresser dividers)

(4) 1×2 @ 6″ (short dresser dividers)

(2) 3/4″ plywood or 1×2 scraps @ 17″ (drawer slide runners)

(1) 3/4″ plywood 20″ x 56″ (top)

(6) 3/4″ plywood 5″ x 16″ (top drawer sides)

(6) 3/4″ plywood 5″ x 13″ (top drawer front and backs)

(4) 3/4″ plywood 7″ x 16″ (bottom drawer sides)

(4) 3/4″ plywood 7″ x 45 1/2″ (bottom drawer front and backs)

(3) 1/4″ plywood drawer bottoms 13 1/2″ x 15″

(2) 1/4″ plywood drawer bottoms 15″ x 46″

Drawer fronts (cut to fit)

(1) 1/4″ plywood backer 24″ x 50″

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Step 1: Assemble Side Panels

I made this dresser 33″ tall overall, so subtracting the 3/4″ plywood top, I needed to cut my legs 32 1/4″ long.  These legs come 34 1/2″ long, so if you don’t want to cut them down, you don’t have to.  But I cut mine to 32 1/4″ long.

Cut legs down for DIY dresser

Once the legs were trimmed down, I cut four side frame pieces according to the cut list above and attached like shown using 1 1/2″ pocket holes and 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws and wood glue.  I left a 22 1/2″ space between the 2x2s and also attached them FLUSH to the INSIDE of the leg.  I had two of these, obviously, one for the left, one for the right 🙂

Assemble DIY Dresser side panel with wood glue and pocket hole screws

Then I used my circular saw and Kreg Rip Cut to cut down panels to fit inside this gap (13″ x 22 1/2″).  I drilled 3/4″ pocket holes along the edges and attached the rest of the side panel like shown using 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws on the 3/4″ material and 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws on the 2x material.

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Attaching this plywood panel flush to the inside of the leg helps later with installing the drawer slides.  If it wasn’t flush, you would have to use spacer blocks to mount the drawer slides to.

Step 2: Assemble the Frame of the DIY Dresser

Next, it was time to combine the two side panels and make one big piece.  So I cut four 2x2s to 48″ and drilled 1 1/2″ pocket holes into each end of each piece and attached like shown using wood glue and 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. There should be 22 1/2″ between the top and bottom frame pieces just like on the side panels.

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Side note: for 2×2 and 1×2 material, I always drill one pocket hole in each end and use wood glue to help hold it in place.  I’ve found using two pocket holes tends to cause the wood to crack when you drive the screws.

Step 3: Add Drawer Dividers to Dresser

I added drawer dividers to the dresser both for looks and for function.  I like the separation between the small top drawers and the large bottom drawers, BUT this also makes for an easy way to mount drawer slides for those top drawers, as well.

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I cut two 1x2s at 48″ long, drilled 3/4″ pocket holes into the ends, and attached like shown on the front and the back side of the dresser using wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.  I attached these so that there was a 6″ opening between the top 2×2 and this 1×2 divider piece.

Then, I screwed 6″ long 1×2 pieces between the 2×2 and 1×2 to divide the top three drawers.  I just used regular 2″ wood screws through the top 2×2 and 1 1/4″ wood screws through the bottom 1×2.  I spaced these evenly so each drawer would be the same size.  So the space ended up being 15 1/2″ apart.

I did this on both the front and back of the dresser.  That way I could easily attach this next piece.

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I cut two pieces of 3/4″ plywood scrap (but you could also use 1×2 scrap if you wanted) to fit between these 1x2s and attached like shown using 3/4″ pocket holes and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.  This is what I mounted the top drawer slides to in the next step.

Step 4: Attach Drawer Slides to DIY Dresser

Next up, I attached five pair of 16″ ball bearing drawer slides to the dresser body.  Two pair will go on the bottom section of the dresser for the bottom drawers and two pair on the top.

Step 5: Build and Install Drawer Boxes

I cut all the boards for the drawer boxes that I needed to build all five drawers (see cut list above), then cut 1/4″ deep x 1/4″ wide dadoes 1/2″ from the bottom side of all the drawer pieces on my table saw.  HOWEVER, if you don’t have a table saw, you could also use a router with a 1/4″ straight bit and do the same thing OR you can skip the dadoes altogether and just glue and staple the plywood onto the bottom of the drawer box.

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Then on all my drawer front and back pieces, I drilled 3/4″ pocket holes into the ends.

Once all my pocket holes were drilled, I assembled my boxes by screwing the front and back boards into the side boards with 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws to create a box.  Obviously, I had to install the 1/4″ plywood bottom into my dado grooves before adding the last drawer piece.

Then, I installed the drawer boxes.  You can see better from the video how I installed the boxes.  I used scrap spacer blocks to set the boxes on to prevent them from rubbing anything when they were opened and closed.  Then, I pulled the slides out and drove the screws into the slide.

Step 6: Add Drawer Fronts

I always cut my drawer fronts to fit just in case I get anything off a little in the build.  I always try to be careful, but no one is perfect and it’s always best to measure your drawer opening and subtract 1/4″ off each dimension so that you will have a 1/8″ gap on all sides of the drawer front.

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Once I had my drawer fronts cut from 3/4″ plywood, I attached edge banding around all sides for a cleaner look.  Then I placed them onto their drawer, and screwed in place from the inside of the drawer box.

Step 7: Add Top to DIY Dresser

Finally, I cut the top for the dresser and the build was almost done!!  I cut the top 20″ x 56″ to allow for a one inch overhang on both sides and a one inch overhang on the front.  To attach, I applied wood glue along the top of the dresser then placed the top on and made sure everything was centered with 1″ on each side.

Then, I used 2″ wood screws to attach the top to the dresser through the top frame 2x2s along the front and back.

The final step is to finish as desired AND add a backer…if desired.  I go back and forth with backers on pieces that have drawers.  Backers (a piece to cover the back side) really finish out the piece.  HOWEVER, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve filled my drawers too full and gotten stuff stuck back there and cant reach to get it out.  That’s when, if you don’t have a backer, you can just reach around the back side of the dresser and clear the jam.  There are pros and cons to having a backer on a dresser.

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I mean, it’s not a big deal either way.  Add the backer, don’t add the backer.  But if you do, simply place 1/4″ piece of plywood centered on the back side and staple in place.

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And if you are curious about the finish here, I went simple with Minwax Early American stain and a clear coat of water based poly on top.  Then I added my favorite drawer pulls ever–the same ones I used on my nightstands and in my new kitchen (just in varying sizes).

Build Your Own DIY Dresser with this Tutorial--Traditional Style Dresser that works great in the bedroom, or as a console in living or dining room

I was really excited about how this dresser turned out, and honestly, I just really love HUGE drawers.  These big bottom drawers would be SO GOOD for large bulky sweaters, fluffy blankets, and things that just take up a lot of room.  Because who wants to waste a whole dresser drawer with just one big fluffy blanket??

How to Build Your Own DIY Dresser--Tutorial and Video for this Easy to Build Dresser

DIY Dresser Plans and Tutorial Video

But, if this dresser isn’t what you are looking for, I’ve got plenty more for you to check out here:

DIY Mid Century Dresser

How to build a Mid Century Modern Dresser

DIY Vintage Inspired Dresser

DIY Dresser Armoire

How to build a Modern DIY Dresser Armoire

DIY Faux Drawer Dresser

But if you liked this project and want to save it for later, I would love if you give it a pin and be sure to check out the video 🙂

How to Build a DIY Dresser with Five Drawers--Traditional style works well in bedroom or in living or dining room as a console--Free tutorial and video

Until next time, happy building 🙂

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