We all have favorites. Lets not even pretend like we don’t. And this dresser is my favorite piece I’ve ever made. Ever. Even better than Napoleon who was the reigning champion for a really long time. Did you ever make something and then stare at it for hours on end thinking “Holy crap. I actually made that!”? Yeah, that’s been me for the past few days over this dresser. Even the husband is super impressed. He’s told me several times that it’s “the best thing I’ve ever built”, and I totally believe him.
This dresser was not easy. Or quick. It was incredibly challenging, and I’d like to consider myself to be a pretty proficient builder. It took me a total of 6 1/2 days to make it, start to finish. So, go into this warned: If you decide to build Madison for yourself, she will consume your soul for a long time. This is not a weekend build, friends. This is a please-let-me-out-of-work-early-so-I-can-keep-working-on-my-dresser build.
In order to make this a little easier for you guys to build, I’ve included some “helpful hints” and additional pictures in the project plan to help you ensure accurate placement. When I build, I can usually hear myself saying things in my head like, “meh, that looks like about a 1/4″. Good enough.” Not with this project. To make this plan work, numbers have to be exact or else you’re going to have some really weird drawers. But, trust me, it’s SO worth it.
Lets go into some details, shall we?
First off, I have a mild obsession with hardware. I feel that it’s the jewelry of a piece – kind of like back splash in a kitchen. So, I splurged a little bit for Madison. (She’s such a pretty girl, I couldn’t resist.) I used Anthropology’s Gardening Indoors knobs in Aqua, to give it that extra “bling” that it needed.
I couldn’t find the perfect “slightly” antique white that I wanted, so I actually hand painted this piece. Let me just say, I never do that. But this was an an exception. (Man, I really need to invest in a good paint sprayer.) Anyway, I finished with two coats of Valspar’s Polar White in semi-gloss, purchased at Lowes. I also primed with Killz Odorless Spray Primer.
I tried a new technique with the drawers this time. Instead of using actual drawer slides, I used 1×2 boards that sit on top of each other and slide. After using it for a few days, it’s been working out just fine! If you want to use actual drawer slides instead, just build your drawers a bit wider, Making them 27 1/8″ wide to accommodate your slides.
I figure that I should also explain the artwork sitting on the dresser in the opening shot since all you can see is a dude getting eaten by a shark. Yikes. It’s a limited edition print by one of my favorite artists, Shag, called “Watson and the Shark”. It was my 1st anniversary gift from my husband. (First anniversary = paper. Such a smart boy.)
Oh, yeah, and then there’s Hooter. (Anyone get the Captain EO reference? Even though their Hooter is an elephant…) I’m going through a pretty serious owl phase right now, and when I spotted him at West Elm on sale a few weeks ago I knew he had to be mine. I went in for shower curtains, and I came out with Hooter. Isn’t that always how it goes?
I’ll give you guys a few more detail shots when I get into the moulding in the building plan. Without further adieu, here are the project plans for the Madison Dresser based on PB Teen’s Chelsea Wide Dresser.
Estimated Cost: $250
Dimensions as shown above.
14 – 1×2 @ 8 feet long
1 – 1×3 @ 10 feet long
1 – 1×4 @ 4 feet long
8 – 1×8 @ 8 feet long
3 – 2×2 @ 8 feet long
1 – 2×3 @ 8 feet long
1 – 2×4 @ 8 feet long
1 – Sheet of 3/4″ Plywood
1 – Sheet of 1/2″ Plywood
1 – Sheet of 1/4″ Plywood
Hardware and Supplies:
12 – knobs or pulls
1″ Pocket Hole Screws
1 1/4″ Pocket Hole Screws
2 1/2″ Pocket Hole Screws
2 1/2″ Screws
5/8″ Finishing Nails
1 1/4″ Finishing Nails
Medium Grit Sandpaper
Primer or Wood Conditioner
Paint or Stain
8 – 1×2 @ 28 1/8″ – Center Drawer Divider
1 – 1×2 @ 27″ – Center Drawer Support (back)
1 – 1×2 @ 26 1/4″ – Center Drawer Support (front)
12 – 1×2 @ 23 1/4″ – Drawer Slide (attached to dresser)
12 – 1×2 @ 22 1/2″ – Drawer Slide (attached to drawer)
12 – 1×2 @ 8″ – Drawer Trim (sides)
12 – 1×2 @ 24 7/8″ – Drawer Trim (top/bottom)
2 – 1×2 @ 21″ – Side Trim (bottom)
1 – 1×3 @ 62″ – Dresser Top (front)
2 – 1×3 @ 22 3/4″ – Dresser Top (sides)
2 – 1×4 @ 21″ – Side Trim (top)
3 – 1×8 @ 21″ – Drawer Divider
12 – 1×8 @ 26 3/8″ – Drawer Front/Back
12 – 1×8 @ 21″ – Drawer Side
1 – 2×2 @ 4″ – Center Leg
2 – 2×2 @ 57″ – Front/Back Bottom Divider
1 – 2×3 @ 57″ – Back Top Divider
1 – 2×4 RIPPED TO 3 1/4″ WIDE @ 57″ – Front Top Divider
1 – 1/4″ PLY @ 60″ x 31″ – Dresser Back
6 – 1/2″ PLY @ 24 7/8″ x 21″ – Drawer Bottoms
1 – 3/4″ PLY @ 60″ x 24 1/4″ – Dresser Bottom
1 – 3/4″ PLY @ 57″ x 22 3/4″ – Dresser Top
2 – 3/4″ PLY @ 31″ x 21″ – Dresser Sides
See above diagrams for how to break down your plywood. If you have a small car like me, ask your hardware store to make the horizontal cuts notated above, and then you can take the skinnier pieces home and make the rest of your cuts. The 1/4″ plywood back is pretty self explanatory as it’s only one cut, so I didn’t include a diagram for that one.
Attach your top and bottom trim to the dresser sides using 1 1/4″ finishing nails and wood glue.You should also pre-drill pocket holes in the center of the top of your plywood to prepare for the last step when you screw in your top.
Attach your top/bottom dividers to the the side pieces that you just made using your Kreg Jig and 1 1/4″ screws. You should also pre-drill pocket holes in the center of your top divider to prepare for the last step when you screw in your top.
In order to make sure that the space in between your top/bottom dividers is exact, I also cut the center divider piece during this step. While screwing in the top/bottom pieces, I clamped the center divider to use as a temporary “spacer” in between them to assure that the center gap on the right side was going to be exactly the same as it was on the left side.
Here’s another step where I pre-cut a few more boards to ensure accuracy. Use your drawer dividers as temporary spacers and placement holders for your center divider. This way, you make sure that it’s definitely in the right place and you don’t have any weirdly spaced drawers later on.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 on the back side. Keep in mind that your center divider is a little bit longer because your top divider is a 2×3 instead of a ripped down 2×4. (I did this to keep the board-ripping to a minimum. You can use the same measurements and boards as the front side if you’d like, but this is easier.)
A handy tip on this one: make an 8 1/4″ spacer for your drawers out of a scrap 1×2. Trust me, this will save you a TON of measuring and will insure that your drawers are evenly separated. I started out using the spacer between the bottom divider and the first drawer divider from the bottom, putting the spacer in between them along the sides, and then worked my way up to do the top drawer divider once the lower one was screwed into place.
Attach your center supports to the center divider using your Kreg Jig and 1 1/4″ screws. To place them, the bottom of your 1×8 should be even with the top of the drawer dividers. (Since you used the spacer in the last step, your gaps should be perfectly measured and this step will go seamlessly.)
Place your drawer “slide” 1x2s on top of your drawer dividers. In an ideal world, the back of the 1×2 should be flush with the back drawer divider. In the front, you need to leave a 3/4″ gap on the front between the front of the “slide” and the front of the drawer divider. Here’s how to make this easy:
Use your spacer that you created in step 7 as a place holder for what will be your front trim. Line it up flush with the front of your drawer divider and your “slide” will fit in right behind it. Clamp it into place.
Now, when you remove your spacer piece, you will have a perfect 3/4″ gap and are ready to screw in your slides by countersinking 1 1/4 screws into your center supports. (If you pre-drill your holes before you place them into the dresser, it makes your life a lot easier. Otherwise you’ll probably feel like you’re playing Twister with the dresser trying to drill them from the inside.)
Attach the bottom of your dresser to your the by countersinking 1 1/4″ screws into the base. Make sure to use wood glue! When placing it, the front of the bottom piece will be flush with the front of your frame, and there will be a 1/4″ overhang from the bottom on the back. (This is to make room for your 1/4″ plywood back in later steps.)
Attach your bun feet to the bottom of your dresser as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Mine had a screw at the top of them, so I pre-drilled a hole of the same size into the bottom of the dresser and screwed in the feet. My feet are placed 2 1/2″ from each of the 2 sides. For example, for the front left foot, my foot is 2 1/2″ from the front and 2 1/2″ from the left side. Here is a close up of my feet so you can see what I mean about the screw top.
At this time, you also want to put in a center foot. This will give your dresser a great deal of additional support. Your center foot should be the same height as your feet. So, since my feet were 4″ tall, my 2×2 center foot was also 4″ tall. I attached it to the bottom center of the dresser using my Kreg Jig.
Build your drawers as shown above using your Kreg Jig. In addition to the pocket holes that you drill onto hold the sides together, I put also pocket holes into the bottom of my 1/2″ plywood to add additional strength. The plywood bottom is inset into your 1x8s. You will need 6 drawers total.
Attach your drawer side “slides” onto your drawers by countersinking 1 1/4″ screws into your slides. They should sit 1 1/8″ from the bottom of your drawer. Repeat for all of your drawers.
After those really time consuming steps, here’s an easy one. Slide all of your drawers into place. The slides that you attached to your drawers should rest on top of the slides that you screwed into your dresser base. They should very easily slide in and out. Make sure that the front of your “slides” are flush with each other. This is very important as you add your trim in the next step.
Attach your 1×2 drawer trim to your drawers using 1 1/4″ finishing nails and wood glue. There should be a 1/8″ gap on all sides between your drawer trim and the frame of your dresser. The easiest way to ensure accurate placement is to place a 1/8″ shim in between your dresser base and your trim as you nail it in. This may seem obvious, but make sure that your nails don’t go through your drawer slides. They should be placed along the inner rim of your trim.
Assemble the top before placing it onto your dresser. I drilled pocket holes into the bottom of the plywood and screwed my 1×3 sides and front into them. Once you have the top put together. rest it on the top of your dresser base, leaving a 1″ overhang on the sides and front. (It will be flush with the back.) Take out your top 2 drawers temporarily and screw your top into the pre-drilled pocket holes from the inside that you made in earlier steps.
This step is easier explained with pictures. Here is an overall shot of how the moulding is added to the dresser.
Make sure that you don’t cut any of your moulding until you’re finished building your dresser. In fact, I didn’t supply any measurements as it should be “cut to fit” your piece. If your angles aren’t 100% correct all the time, that’s okay. Wood filler and caulk go a long way. But, they should at least be close for that trick to work. (If it makes you feel any better, I had to buy an extra piece of cap moulding after I screwed up. Several times. Oops.) Your moulding should attach to your dresser and drawers using finishing nails and wood glue. Do not skimp on the wood glue. Your moulding will never stay on, no matter how many nails you use. Also, make sure you miter those corners!
Start out by lining the bottom of your dresser with cap moulding as shown in the above picture. It should slide perfectly into the bottom along the edge.
I used the same cap moulding along the inside edge of my drawers around the 1×2 trim. I mitered the corners so that they all fit together in a perfect square.
The top moulding is a bit deceptive. The casing will fit directly underneath the lip of your dresser’s top. This is optional, but to bulk it up I added half round around the top of the dresser edge.
Finish your project as desired. Make sure to sand it down with medium grit sand paper and fill in all your holes with wood filler before tackling that paint or stain. For more tips on finishing, visit The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Finishing.