Growing up, I used to visit my grandparents during our annual trip to India. My grandfather is extremely resourceful – he would heat water for the entire household by burning copra from the coconut tree in the backyard and used to build furniture around the house. I recall these cute little chairs he had with cane seats and backs, they kind of always stuck in my memory. Cane unfortunately went largely out of style in India, but recently, I see it make a come back especially in the US.
While looking for a dresser, I came across some really nice pieces online, but they were ridiculously priced. Thats when Bhaskar swooped in and offered to build me one instead. Well, “offered to”, “was coerced into”, po-tay-to po-tah-to 😛
Reasons we chose this project
- I needed a dresser and one that matched the custom nightstands Bhaskar built (upcoming post)
- Buying a quality dresser runs into hundreds if not thousands of dollars, especially those with cane meshing
- I never managed to find a dresser of the perfect dimensions – our master bedroom is not too big and every additional inch matters.
Inspiration and Design
I’m also a huge fan of Serena & Lily designs with cane texture. Cane in my opinion gives a light and airy feel to any furniture.
The other influencing factor was the nightstand Bhaskar built for our master bedroom (post coming up soon, sneak peek below!). We had to match the colors and wood textures of the dresser to the nightstands. We also factored in a trim on the side panels to match the trim on the nightstands which was Bhaskar’s excuse to buy a router 🙂
- Plan your design – I drew out at least 7 different versions of dressers before settling on one. We picked design #7 with the exception of the green embedded trim on the upper face. Our final product is just a little different since we painted the sides of the front faces of the drawers as well.
- Measure your space, make sure you leave at least 2′ between the dresser and any furniture to comfortable open the drawers standing in front
- Cane was the most expensive part of this project. I found the perfect budget-friendly cane but it was backordered for months, so I bought a more expensive with immediate availability.
Tools and Material
- Tools used
- Miter saw
- Circular saw
- Table saw
- Drill set and bits
- Nail gun
- Heavy duty stapler
- 1/2″ staples
- Material used
- Baltic birch plywood
- MDF (1/4″, 3/4″)
- Pine trim
- Clear Danish oil
- Paint – Dark Everglade
- Paint supplies (roller, primer etc.)
1. Cut the wood as per the dimensions to make the top and sides. Our dimensions for the top and bottom are 48×15 and 30×15.
2. Make pocket holes on the inside of the top and bottom panels, so they are hidden away when put together. Attach the side faces to the top and bottom panels through the pocket holes. The frame is now ready.
3. The trims that go on the sides need to be flush with the panel. Using the router, plunge 1/2″ deep, 3/4″ wide slots on the side plywood panels to fit the trim. In our design, this was at an offset of 2″ from the edges. Since the router leaves rounded corner on the edges, use a chisel to to square off the edges.
4. Attach the drawer slides to the sides of the frame.
5. Size the drawers wide enough to account for the 0.5″ for the drawer slides on both sides. Cut the MDF and create the drawer frame using pocket holes to attach the side faces to the front.
6. Use a brad to nail the 1/4″ particle board as drawer bottoms.
7. Use the 3/4″ MDF for the drawer fronts. Cut them 2″ wide for the top and bottom and 3″ wide for the side. Make pocket holes on the back of the panels and attach them to create the front face.
8. Prime and paint the drawer fronts with a roller.
9. Measure and cut cane to go on the back of the drawer fronts. Staple the cane to the back with the staple gun. I had to hammer down the staples to make them flush with the wood.
10. To Attach the front face to the drawer, use screws from inside the drawer to connect to the drawer front.
11. To sand the dresser, start with 150 grit sandpaper and followed it up with 220 grit for a finer finish.
12. For the trim that goes on the side panels, cut the wood and paint them. Then place them in the routed grooves and hammer down with a mallet. Ours was so tightly fitted that we didn’t need to use wood glue, but you could if yours is slightly smaller that the channel.
13. Finally, iron on wood edge banding to the ends as required. Finish with 2 coats of danish old with a round of 220 grit sanding in between.
If you’ve made it this far, take a moment and pat yourself on the back, `coz this was in no way an easy build!
While this project was not the most budget friendly, it was still less than half the price of buying a similar product from stores.
The approximate price breakdown:
- Birch plywood: ~$100
- MDF: ~$100
- Cane: ~120
- All other supplies: ~70
The final product, I must say, is a work of art and probably Bhaskar’s best build till date.
- The work involved in building a dresser from scratch is tremendous- it is not for the faint of heart! It took over 2 months to complete this project (mostly because we are full time engineers and weekend DIYers).
- Large pieces like this one tip over easily, make sure to secure it to a wall or place something heavy on top of it to give it weight.
- I realized after I had stapled down the cane that it wasn’t completely stretched out, so I can see bumps in the cane webbing from the front. It isn’t terrible but is quite visible. Make sure to stretch it out and pull tightly before stapling it to the frame.
Tips and Tricks
- We used MDF to make the drawers, MDF is easy to work with and cost effective option for parts of your project that will remain tucked away. Drawers perfectly fit that. Just wear some protective mask, the MDF particles are fine and pretty harsh on your lungs if inhaled.
- The wood used for the frame of this project was baltic birch plywood. Birch veneer is extremely thin and care needs to be taken to tape the rip line to make sure the veneer doesn’t crack.
- The drawers turned out to be of the exact size of the opening and so there was resistance while opening it. So we sanded off some of the corners to make the opening motion smoother.
Aannndddd that’s a wrap.
Loving Life Today
Obsessed with “Among Us”!! It is possibly the new Pokemon Go – addictive and totally fun! Reach out if you want to play with us!