Coffee Table/bench From Old Drawers

by Thea
7 Materials
1 Day

A set of sturdy old drawers, dowels and a wooden plank is pretty much all you need to make this easy coffee table/bench.

Despite a concerted effort to use them, I still have a whole lot of old drawers taking up space. But they are to dream of - every time I pull into the garage it makes me happy to think of all the crafting possibilities they offer. This time around I need to replace a bench that is on it’s way out and the drawers are an inexpensive alternative to a store bought one. The only real cost was for the top.

But you must understand, these drawers are big and deep and sturdy. Almost too big for me to sit on and I am not short. What you actually make with them depends on how big your’s are. My design can work either as a bench or, for smaller drawers, as a coffee table. Coffee table heights seem to vary a lot, so smaller, weaker drawers would work perfectly for them.

And the neater the construction of the drawers, the better. Mine have four solid wood sides but the bases stick out beyond the frame, which means that they couldn’t sit flush with the floor.

There are also some construction cuts and gouges but remember that this is a up-cycling project and people should compliment you on your ingenuity, not your meticulous craftsmanship.

That said, the extra bits had to go. I first tried doing this with a hack-saw and then quickly drove down the road to find someone with the right equipment. Any knobs obviously also have to be removed.

Shoe rack

I designed this as an entrance hall bench with space to put (smaller) shoes. In order to do this I needed: a) enough depth to the drawer to fit shoes and b) two level holes for two dowels to go through. In retrospect I could have off-set the holes so that the shoes would not sit horizontally but angled and bigger shoes would fit. With the current design bigger shoes will stand on the floor. So we learn...

Find the appropriate level where the rack needs to be (we seldom wear boots here so I didn't have to make allowance for them below the rack) and mark it out on the drawer’s vertical sides.

Note: If you were making a coffee table, the rack would store magazines so the height would have to be more precise. You could also do away with the second dowel at the back.

Next, decide where the two holes should be drilled. As mentioned, consider making the nearest one higher so that the shoes sit at an angle, otherwise make them as far apart as you possibly can otherwise bigger shoes won’t balance.

Drill two sets of holes on the two vertical sides of the drawer after measuring the drill bit against the size of the dowels you are using. Repeat on the other drawer as well.

Back home, I sanded the edges down for any splinters and rough edges.

And then painted and sealed.

Make a top

I don’t know how things are where you live but around here wood is pretty expensive. I bought a sheet of composite pine because it was the cheapest option. It happened to be pretty close to the right width but my husband took one look at it and said that its much too thin to support a big span and that I should make my bench smaller. So off I went down the road again to have it trimmed and sanded.

A few hours later my prize (not!) piece of composite pine was buckling. Did not expect that. So, out comes something heavy to weigh it down with until it behaves.

Install the seat/top

With the buckling under control we could finally glue the seat…

And then screw it in place.

Not bad, not bad at all.

The shoe rack/magazine holder

I also had 4 dowels trimmed to slightly longer than the width of the drawers. The additional length that would stick out was just as a feature.

The dowels had to be sanded down and sealed.

Once inserted they may require some sanding again. You could use some wood glue to secure them but mine fit quite snugly.

All done and the bench could be moved to the entrance hall.

This is what it would look like if you used it as a coffee table and stored magazines.

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  3 questions
  • Maria Salcedo Maria Salcedo on Jan 31, 2022

    Why didn’t you make the wood for sitting to fit flush with the drawers?

  • Susanmarvin Susanmarvin on Oct 28, 2022

    Why didn't you cut the dowels off even so someone wouldn't hit them with their leg? I love the idea and it is a clever idea.

  • Linda Ross Linda Ross on Nov 04, 2022

    Ingenious. Have you thought about adding a drawer under the seat lengthwise? You’d just need a couple drawer glides and a drawer to fit, obviously. Lol

    I might try that. I’ve been looking for a way to outfit my closet turned mudroom. Thanks for the inspiration.

Join the conversation
3 of 67 comments
  • Ter Ter on Jan 27, 2023

    Smart move, make it what You want it to be, it can always be adjusted if You decide that is what You need. Good job.

  • Holly O. Holly O. on Jan 22, 2024

    Loved this idea! The color of the bench is one of my favorites. Great job with your ideas coming to fruition.