30yr Old Dresser Becomes New Chest

Jon Brown-Schmidt
by Jon Brown-Schmidt
My wife and I had put off purchasing our own bedroom furniture for the longest time. Instead, we concentrated on raising our 5 kids. Well, 13yrs into marriage we are finally entering the grown-up world and replacing the hand me down stuff with our own. As a stay at home dad, soon to loose his day job as my youngest heads to all day school next fall, I thought this might be a great opportunity to pursue my my hobbies of recycling used furniture and wood working.
This dresser originally came from a family member. While it looks nice, there was very little 'real' wood on the piece. Other than the drawer fronts and the trim, everything was laminated MDF.
I chose not to repaint the entire piece as I wasn't sure there was value in doing so. Instead, I chopped the top off and created this chest. It is a healthy 66" long, stand 19" off the floor and is 19"wide. The top and drawer fronts have an espresso color, while the exterior is a washed off white called baby milk.
On the inside, I had to build a back as the original was a thin sheet of cardboard. As I worked the project, I realized the top/lid had some considerable weight to it. In fact, on my initial mock up, those three lid supports weren't enough to keep the lid from slamming in an unsafe manor. So to lose some weight, I used a router to create the inlay and cut enough weight to make the lid manageable while maintaining enough stiffness that you are still able to sit on the lid when closed. The interior is the same baby milk paint, but unwashed.
Since the bottom to this dresser was originally cardboard, I needed to create a floor. To give it some character I used some cedar fence pickets I had scavanged from my sister when she put in a new fence. Sanded them to bring out some of the wood color, but leave enough age to highlight the grain. Then sealed them with a flat polyurethane.

This is my 'proof of concept' whether or not I can earn money upcycling. Wish me luck, the last thing I want is to end up back in a cubicle while the kids are in school.
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 5 questions
  • Inetia Inetia on Jun 04, 2016
    Using a router to reduce the weight of the lid was ingenious.

  • Sam2587435 Sam2587435 on Jun 04, 2016
    Who makes the paint?

  • Hb-526434 Hb-526434 on Jun 06, 2016
    What did u do with the top half of dresser?

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2 of 124 comments
  • Judy Ann Judy Ann on Aug 02, 2016
    I am going to watch my favorite thrifts shops, put this at the foot of my bed and get rid of two pieces!!! love it

  • Mikie Mikie on May 20, 2018

    Jon, I believe you have a future in up-cycling. You did a beautiful job.

    10-atta boys!