How to Build a Cheap Dresser

Growing children, new babies, new housemates, spending all your dough on a new place and then having no money to furnish it--all are reasons to put together a chest of drawers on the cheap. More storage is in sight: you can quickly and inexpensively build a chest of drawers using plastic storage drawers and plywood. If you can measure, saw and drill in a screw, you have enough carpentry skills

Step 1

Buy a number of stacking plastic storage drawers at a discount store. Bear in mind that you can't stack more than five drawers and still maintain stability, even after framing them in with plywood, so if you need more drawers, plan on making one chest of drawers per five drawers.You will be able to link them into one bigger chest.

Step 2

Cut plywood into five pieces per chest of drawers. You will need two sides, a back, a floor and a top.

Cut the two sides so that they measure 2 inches higher than the height of the stacked drawers. They should also be 2 inches deeper than the depth of the drawers.

Cut the back of the chest of drawers so that it is the same height as the two sides and 2 inches wider than the width of the drawers as you are looking at them from the front.

Cut the top and the floor so that they are the same depth as the depth of the side pieces, and the same width as the back.

Step 3

Assemble the top, floor, two sides and back using wood screws, which will help to keep the wood from splitting. Also to avoid splitting the wood, make sure the screws are thin.

Lay the back flat and have an assistant hold one of the sides in place while you screw it to the back by going through the back first. Do the same with the other side piece.

Stand the now three-sided chest and position the top and screw it into place through the top and into the sides.

Turn the chest over and screw the floor of the chest into place in the same manner. You now have a case for the drawers.

Step 4

Sand all the exposed edges so that they are smooth to the touch. This will prevent slivers on people's hands and snags on clothing.

Step 5

Stain or prime and paint the wood case.

Step 6

Stack and slide the plastic drawers into the case. You now have an inexpensive chest of drawers.

Step 7

If you are making more than one unit, you can join them together on the back by using mending plates to hold them together.


If you give them measurements, some home improvement and lumber stores will cut the wood for you.

Things You'll Need

  • Plywood--1/2" thick, minimum

  • Stacking plastic storage bins

  • Two inch wood screws

  • Tape measure

  • Drill

  • Saw

  • An assistant

  • Mending plates (if you want a big chest)

  • Sandpaper

  • Stain or prime and paint


Remember the carpenter's adage: Measure twice, cut once.