Introduction: Iron Man Cabinet Upcycled From a Chest of Drawers

About: Growing up in a rural area in the East of England I've always been interested in nature and trees and eventually found myself building things from the wood I could find. This has led me to follow my passion of…

Someone was throwing away a chest of drawers so I decided to use it for a project I had coming up; making an Iron Man themed cabinet for a little lad to store his games and things in. I had a sheet of plywood recycled from an old bed frame and so used that for the bulk of the changes. The rest was done with glue, screws and paint.

Step 1: Tools and Materials


- Pencil and rule

- Square and framing square

- Hand plane

- Scraper

- Flat head/Philips head screwdriver

- Hammer

- Mallet and chisel

- Router plane

- Crosscut saw, rip saw and tenon saw (or a table saw)

- Hand drill and brace (or power drill)

- 2mm and 8mm bit

- Clamps

- Coping saw

- Rasp and file

- Paintbrushes

- Dowel maker or dowels

- Knife


- Plywood (however much is needed to cover the drawers/make the cabinet of your piece)

- Glue

- Screws (however many needed to attach the cupboard insides and handles)

- Sandpaper

- Masking/Painters tape

- Paint stripper

- Hinges

Step 2: Stripping the Chest of Drawers, Planing and Sanding

I used some paint stripper and a scraper to get rid of most of the build up of grime on the chest of drawers as well as any varnish or wax that was present. A plane was needed to get the veneer off the top of the unit, not necessary when painting over it but I wanted to see what was underneath. All I needed then was a flat headed screwdriver and a hammer to get behind the handles and pry them off, they were held in with small nails. A few bits of sandpaper, 60 grit and then 240 grit handled all the sanding.

Step 3: Refining the Details

The beading on the chest of drawers didn't really fit in with the Iron Man theme so I got to getting rid of it. I used a 6mm chisel and a router plane to take it away from the front legs. I then used a smoothing plane around the edges of the top of the chest of drawers to take the beading away.

Whilst sanding I noticed some damage on one of the back corners of the top, my solution was to cut it flush and then repeat the same cut on the opposite side to make them match. Perhaps not the most elegant solution but it adds another interesting point to the cabinet.

Step 4: Making the Cupboard

The idea of this build was to turn the top left section of the drawers into a cupboard to store video games and what not inside. This involved taking out the long middle drawer and the upper left drawer. I then had to cut out half of the dividing piece that ran under the long middle drawer. This was achieved with a saw, a hammer, a chisel and just general twisting and breaking by hand.

I used part of the piece I cut out to make a new piece of frame to go against the small drawer, which was now located under the top small drawer. I screwed it into place.

The plywood sheet was perfect for filling in the cabinet sides that needed it. I had to measure and cut carefully for the plywood pieces to fit in as there were many awkward angles and pieces coming out of the inside of the unit. Once they were cut I pushed and banged them into place and finished securing them with screws.

Due to varying thicknesses of woods I had a small gap to fill in. Luckily some of the pieces I cut out were very close to the right size. I planed a piece down a little, cut out the right size and glued and clamped it into the gap.

Step 5: Fitting the New Drawer Fronts

The existing drawer fronts were too damaged and covered in old fashioned beading to be useful. I cut a piece of plywood which fit over the front of the unit and then cut it into 4 pieces; the cupboard door, 2 small drawers and the bottom drawer. I put these on with glue and some nails, I also fitted some screws on after the fact to keep them secure.

Step 6: Fitting the Cupboard Door

Fitting the hinges was fairly straightforward, I chiselled out two rebates for the hinges to screw into. When seated the hinges had to be flush with the leg in order for the cupboard door to sit flat against the unit. I then put the hinges in their closed position and laid the door on top of them in the desired position. I marked against the side of the door where the hinges would attach, opened up the hinges and screwed them on. I later fitted a little catch inside the cupboard door so it would click shut.

Step 7: Making and Fitting the Iron Man Mask

I created a template on Corel Draw to the right measurements, printed it out on four pieces of A4 paper and then glued them all together. After using some double sided tape to stick it to a piece of the reclaimed plywood I cut around it using a coping saw. Using a rasp, file and sandpaper I refined all the edges. I then took a sharp knife and cut through the paper into the wood along all of the detail lines. I used a chisel and router plane to cut out rebates for the eyes.

I laid the mask onto the cabinet and marked where the cuts would be, I then carefully cut each piece of the mask and attached them to the drawers and cupboard with glue and screws.

Step 8: Making and Fitting the Handles

I still had some plywood left over so I decided to make some very simple plywood handles. I cut five rectangles at 5cm X 3cm and another five rectangles at 7cm X 4cm. I then glued the smaller rectangles into the centre of the larger rectangles. The larger rectangles would be the actual handle. When the glue dried I chamfered all the edges of the handle part which was closer to the drawer, this makes the handles easier to hold.

I then drilled some pilot holes for screws through the front of the handles to the back and then some 8mm holes directly on top of the pilot holes. These holes only needed to go around 1cm deep to allow the screw to sit inside and a dowel to be placed on top. I found the centre of each drawer and the cupboard door, screwed the handles on, made a dowel with my dowel plate and inserted little pieces of dowel into each hole with glue.

When the glue dried I cut the dowels away with a flush cut saw and sanded down the whole cabinet.

Step 9: Painting the Cabinet and Making the Eyes

Now I would like to add that I'm not a painter and I'm not particularly skilled in this area! I bought some chalk furniture paint in varying shades to bring out the colours of Iron Man as well as I could. A lot of painters tape and patience was needed to paint the head to the best of my current ability. When that was finished and dried I sanded down and varnished the insides of the drawers and cupboard space.

Since I had already made rebates for the eyes I decided to insert some light blue card into them and then cover them with plastic. I got the plastic from an old VHS case and cut it up to just larger than the shape of the eyes. I then sanded and cut the plastic down slowly until it slotted into the rebate with force. Hopefully that'll be enough to keep it in there but if not I can return at a later date and glue them in.

Step 10: Finishing the Cabinet

I finished the cabinet with some spray varnish called Plasti-Kote, I did try and use some tinned varnish with a brush on a test piece but it made the chalk paint run and the colours combined. Its certainly not my usual kind of thing, my style is generally rustic/old fashioned and this is a rather modern looking piece of furniture and I used plywood! Something I really don't like using but it was ideal for this design.

I really hope you enjoyed this Instructable and the video, if you'd like to keep up with my future projects and check out my catalogue old projects already made then feel subscribe to my YouTube channel and like the Timber Anew Facebook page.

Thanks for checking this out and hopefully I'll catch you soon!

Reclaimed Contest 2017

Third Prize in the
Reclaimed Contest 2017