Introduction: IKEA MALM Dresser Hack
Our dressers were looking a little plain and dated so we browsed online and were inspired by a discontinued West Elm dresser to add knobs to the top set of drawers and pulls to the rest. We hoped that for $35 in hardware each we could get our cheaper IKEA dressers looking a little classier. If you want to know more about our backstory and challenges we faced with finding matching hardware, here is a link to our post on that.
- Power drill
- Phillips screwdriver
- Drill guide (optional, but it makes drilling straight down much easier)
We also ended up needing bolt cutters, a wrench, and a spare nut that fit onto our screw because we ran into a little snag with our screw length (more details on that later).
Step 1: Measure, Plan, and Mark Hardware Locations
First, you’ll need to measure your drawers and mark each spot to drill for your hardware. Double check your measurements because having a bunch of mistake-holes in your dresser is a good way to ruin it.
For the pulls, we measured the width of the drawer front, then the width between the two holes in each pull. We subtracted the pull-width from the drawer-width and divided that number in two, which told us how far we needed to measure from each side of our drawer. We centered those marks vertically.
The knobs were easier. We just eyeballed what positioning looked good, made sure they were equally spaced width-wise from the outside edge of the drawer, and centered those vertically too.
Step 2: Drill Holes
We recommend placing your hardware on each drawer front where you’ve marked before you drill. This gives you a visual check of how you did. When you feel confident that your ability to do simple math has resulted in the correct placement of your hardware, it’s time to get out the drill.
To pick the right bit size, you can hold your screw up to several different sized bits and pick one that is just a hair thicker than your screw.
We really like using a drill guide (that little metal bar we’re drilling through) to help us drill straight down (instead of at an angle). If you’re nervous about drilling through perfectly good furniture, I highly recommend getting one of these little guys.
Step 3: (Optional) Trim Hardware
After drilling, we did hit a bit of a snag. See, hardware will typically come with screws, and ours came with two different screw size options. But sadly, we had a Goldilocks moment and one was too long and one was too short, but neither was juuuust right.
This is a common issue to run into, so we’re going to share a little tip (so you can avoid going to Home Depot for the 10th time that day to pick up new screws).
Grab a set of bolt cutters and a nut that’s sized to fit your screw. Thread the nut onto the screw, then cut the too-long screw to the length you need.
Cutting it will deform the threads slightly, but that’s where the nut comes in. Grab the nut with a wrench and use your screwdriver to back the screw out of the nut. As you rotate it off over the damaged threads, it will re-shape them back to normal and boom, you have a perfectly-sized screw!
Hopefully we explained that well enough but you can see how we did it in the video at the top :)
Step 4: Install Hardware and Reassemble
Step 5: Enjoy!
This project really was super easy, and it ended up only costing us $35 per dresser. In my book, that is WAY better than dishing out hundreds (or even thousands!) on something new.
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