A New-Fangled Desk...From a Dresser




Introduction: A New-Fangled Desk...From a Dresser

(Note: This might seem to be a remarkably simple idea to do an Instructable on, but it isn't something just anyone might think to do. I love the principle of creating something you need out of something you have that is serving an unnecessary purpose.)

I've been needing a new desk for a while now, mainly for hand-drafting, but also for computer use. When I had the extra money, I couldn't find a decent one that was flat, uninterrupted by grooves, and/or not covered with vinyl and batting and under $300. Hell, who'd have thought finding a straight, level piece of wood with supports for a reasonable price could be so difficult?

Enter HGTV. While watching one program in particular (basically about cheap ways to makeover a room) I made note of a particular project. A woman had an extra dresser, but needed a desk...they promptly removed the drawers, knocked out the guts, and it worked perfectly for her home office.

The very next day I noticed a neighbor throwing out a perfectly good chest of drawers. With the utmost skill of a trained urban forager, I first made sure that they were really getting rid of it, then snatched it up before anyone else could get to it.

The first (and until now, only) Instructable that I made, I didn't realize I would be posting anything on, so I had to backtrack and make 3D diagrams to illustrate the process. Having promised myself that all subsequent projects would be documented extensively, I can now present the following simple Instructable which results in an elegant, if not perfect, outcome.

Step 1: What I Began With

The dresser as I originally found it. Here I got lucky; in the HGTV show, they had a lattice-work criss-cross of wood to separate and support the drawers; to remove any of it, you had to remove all of it.

As you will see, all I had to take out were the tracks for the drawers.

Step 2: Decisions, Decisions

Originally I was going to remove both sets of drawers. I then got to thinking...why? If I did that, I'd also have to remove the center support and, while that wouldn't really affect the structure, it would be an extra step that was unnecessary. Plus, you can never have too much drawer-space and these would be a much needed addition.

Here it is after removing all of the drawers. Notice the decorative piece of wood along the bottom; this would prove to be a problem as I had no saw to work with; I had a single saw blade. Bear in mind that I was trying to make this piece of furniture with zero investment beside my time, hard work, and freely flowing blood.

Step 3: Sawing for a Long, Long Time....

I needed to cut the decorative piece in half. I could have removed the whole thing with a screwdriver but for two reasons:
1. I liked the look of it; no reason to remove it completely.
2. I thought that it would lend a little more stability to the side with the (heavy) drawers in it.

I decided to cut it off at an angle. The space that would be taken up by my chair left precious little room and I didn't want to cut my feet against a sharpened, wooden edge every time I got up (my free-flowing blood being reserved for the construction project, not the aftermath). If I had had the handle for my saw blade, this would have come out a lot cleaner, not to mention straighter.

I've also removed the tracks from one side so far.

Step 4: The Completed Desk

And this is the finished project. Perfect height, ample storage room, and a stylish, classic look, all for zero dollars.

As you can see, I replaced the original knobs for the top drawer with a couple I had leftover from a previous project. Unfortunately I still don't have anything to exchange the other handles for, so here they sit; perhaps I'll paint them someday or, god willing, replace them with something better.

As always, comments welcome....



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    13 Discussions

    Thanks for the pictures. This seems simple enough to follow. I have a teeny budget and now just need to find a suitable candidate. Eyes open.

     Thank you, ty, ty, for this instructable!  I've had a large dresser that I have been wanting to get rid of for years and begged to have it hauled off and never had a chance and had no sturdy desk... but now I have a huge beautiful desk and drawers for my papers and what-nots.  And used the extra drawers I had left over for under our bed to store clothes.  It only took 15-20 mins (that's with moving it and cutting some inner parts and bottom piece off.)

    1 reply

    I don't suppose you'd care to post some pics of that? Now I'm curious as to what other people have done with the idea....


    Great way to recycle an old or unused dresser! I have two laying in my basement. Thank you for spending your time in your instructable!

    no this is EXACTLY, the kind of thing I wouldn't have thought of myself. bravo!

    *VERY* nicely written up; a good piece of work, clearly and easily explained. I have a friend who's in the middle of moving and who needs a work-at-home desk; I'm going to point her this way. Thanks!

    Nice work at recycling a piece of furniture! I needed a desk when I lived with my parents. I placed a piece of plywood over the top of a pair of dressers. Functional, but no where near as nice looking as yours!

    Thanks, both of you. As far as a keyboard drawer goes, I considered something small there, but I use a laptop exclusively for now, and due to the location of the slides and the depth of the drawers I couldn't have done more without a (good) saw and a screw-gun. I also thought of adding a couple of small cubbyholes onto the far left side, screwed directly into the top, made out of the remnants of the other three drawers, but they were so badly damaged that it just wouldn't have worked. Mr. Rig It, consider it added. :)

    a nice addition would be if you remove the railing of the top right drawer, move it up and add a keyboard slide out drawer using the back of a spare drawer nice instructable :)

    Oh by the way good job documenting it. It is written very clearly and the photos show a nice progression of the project transformation.