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Replace Drawers in an Existing Cabinet

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How to Build New Drawers for Old Furniture

When Matt and I first started working on the Rebel house (which seems ages ago!), we found an old dresser with the mirror stored in the shed in the backyard. The dresser and mirror are oak, and the only problem was that all of the drawer boxes but one were smashed. After several frustrating attempts to put them back together, I decided to build new ones. Have a piece of furniture in a similar situation? I’ll show you how to build new drawers for old furniture!

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Materials:

  • 1 full sheet of 1/2″ plywood
  • 1 half sheet of 1/2″ plywood
  • 1-1/4″ brad nails
  • 5/8″ brad nails
  • 1″ pocket hole screws
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper

Luckily for me, there was one drawer that was fully intact and this makes measuring the old drawers so much easier!! Start by measuring the height, width, and depth of the drawer. Mine had a total of six drawers – two smaller drawers and four larger drawers. They each measured 15″ deep by 22-1/2″ wide. The smaller drawers are 6-1/2″ high, and the larger drawers are 7-1/2″ high. There are no drawer slides but a wood runner mounted to the underside of the drawer.

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I removed the runner from the bottom panels, then dismantled the remaining drawer. I cut six drawer bottoms at 14-1/2″ x 21-1/2″, four side pieces at 6-1/2″ x 15, two back pieces at 6-1/2″ x 21-1/2″, eight side pieces at 7-1/2″ x 15″, and four back pieces at 7-1/2″ x 21-1/2″. I thoroughly sanded each piece prior to assembly.

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I used my pocket hole jig to drill pocket holes in one end of each of the sides, and one long edge of each bottom piece. The pocket holes will be used with pocket hole screws to attach the drawer boxes to the existing drawer fronts. I also cut a notch in each back piece to accommodate the runner from the old drawers.

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I assembled the drawers using glue and 1-1/4″ brad nails, then attached the drawer boxes to the drawer fronts with 1″ pocket hole screws. The runners were attached to the bottom of the drawer boxes with glue and 5/8″ brad nails.

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The new drawers fit perfectly! Hooray!! Now the dresser is ready for a new finish!

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The drawers can be painted or lined with your favorite material – shelf liner, wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper, etc. For questions about the tutorial on how to build new drawers for old furniture, contact me at cher {at} designsbystudioc {dot} com!

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  • shonee smith

    I totally need this!! I have a project that needs new drawers but have been putting it off. Thanks!

    • CherTexter

      Awesome, Shonee! Thanks so much! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

  • LindySez

    Way cool way to recycle and keep our landfills clear!

    • CherTexter

      Thanks, Linda! Sometimes, rebuilding something is a necessity!

  • http://www.jessicafhinton.com/ Jessica F. Hinton

    This is such a useful tutorial, Cher! Thanks for sharing!

    • CherTexter

      Thank you, Jessica! They worked out perfectly!