Building your own furniture can be both rewarding and budget-friendly. Not only can you create something unique, but you will also be learning a skill that will translate into every room of your home.
Building your own dresser will cost you the price of the material, hardware, and finishes. Using a cheaper wood, such as spruce, over the more expensive mahogany, for example, will help to keep the overall costs down. Also, you won’t be paying for labor, which can raise the price of custom builds.
This article will compare the cost of different lumber options, along with simple hardware over the more expensive, along with finishing options.
Before you can start any DIY project, it is important to have a solid plan. For building furniture, you will need a sketch or drawing that includes dimensions.
- Where Will Your Dresser Go? Decide on a location for your new dresser and take plenty of measurements to help gauge the size that will fit
- How Big Can It Be Vs How Big Do You Need It to Be? Having a large space does not mean you need to fill it. Take into account what you will be storing and find the appropriate size.
- Make a sketch including the number of drawers. The sketch can be simple at first, but you should be clear on your pieces’ look and how many drawers you think you will need.
- Make a detailed sketch with measurements. With a good idea of how it will look, make a more technical drawing with dimensions including height, width, and depth of the overall dresser and the drawers.
Use Pre-existing Plans
It is possible to find free DIY plans for at-home builds. These are an excellent way to start your process with some ideas and inspiration. For example, this Diy 9-drawer Dresser from Jen Woodhouse provides a thorough guide and cost breakdown. She estimates a total of $350-$400 for the project.
The plan at Fix This Build That, for a simple six drawer dressing not only lays out a step-by-step guide, including a video tutorial, but they also tell you exactly what equipment you need, along with the exact materials and supplies used.
There are also plenty of tutorials online that will help your process. In the following video, the creators bring you along as she creates a simple plywood dresser at home:
The cost of a 7 drawer dresser at Build-Basic is listed to be just $180. Though $105 of that price was spent on soft-closing hardware, and it does not include the cost of finishing.
With this plan in mind, let’s compare the cost of lumber for the 1 x 4 x 8′ Board:
Price Per Board
Natural Barn Wood
As you can see, the Natural Barn wood would be the cheapest option here. Though there are plenty of different options, the hardwoods are much more expensive.
The Build Basic plans call for five 1 x 4 x 8′ Boards. If you were to choose the Barn wood, it would cost $36.15. Even by choosing a more moderately priced wood, it would be more than $50. Unless you are looking for a full hardwood piece made from all the best Mahogany, it is cheaper and more sensible to choose the least expensive option.
In addition to the dowels and screws required to put your dresser together, there are a couple of decisions to make when looking at hardware.
Also known as drawer runners, drawer slides are put in place to allow the drawer to slide in and out of the unit.
Traditional drawers have simple wooden runners that run parallel to the sides of the dresser. When well fitted, they work very well. Often found in fine furniture, it can take some practice to learn how to get them to fit just right. They need to be tight enough to hold their position, but not too tight that the drawer won’t open smoothly.
One of the big advantages of wooden slides is that they can save on money. Rather than purchasing extra hardware, you can make these slides using existing materials.
However, a drawback of this option is in their limitations. When opened, the drawer will have no support and is likely to sag and potentially bend or even crack if pulled too far.
Side-mounted Ball Bearing Slides
Side-mounted slides are available in all home improvement stores and are very easy to install. They can be placed anywhere you need and allow for the drawer to be removed.
When looking to install side-mounted slides, you need to consider their dimensions and make adjustments to the width of your drawers. They will not affect the height or depth of your finished drawer.
As the name would suggest, these slides are mounted under the bottom of the drawer, out of sight. Unlike side mounts, they are more aesthetically pleasing and offer better support for your drawers.
Undermount slides allow for easy use, hold more weight, and allow for full extension. For deeper drawers, this is a great advantage, allowing the user to access the drawer’s very back. However, they can also be installed with modified extensions, which are often used for child safety.
A drawback to this design is the need for precision when installing. Specific slides require specific dimensions in your drawers. There should be sufficient coverage on the drawer’s face to hide the mechanism. Similarly, you will need to account for this when measuring your drawers’ height and the space created in the dresser.
Cost of Slides
Drawer slides are not overly expensive and are often easier to install than wooden slides. When choosing your slides, there are three general options:
- Easy-close slides are also known as Soft-close slides and have a damping cylinder and springs to soften the draw’s closing.
- Self-close slides are fitted with a spring to ensure your draw closes properly and is not left open or ajar.
- Touch release slides allow a press-release function for a clean and sleek finish without a handle
Keeping with the Build-Basic plan, let’s compare the cost of 16-inch drawer slide sets:
Price per Pair
Side or Bottom
16”-22” (406.4mm -558.8mm)
For the Build-Basic plan, you would require 7 sets of slides for the 7 drawers. By choosing the cheaper Brainerd 12-pack, you would be spending just $15.22 for the pack and have some leftover. However, if you wanted the soft-closing drawers, you will likely spend well over $100.
If you are looking to save money on your finish, using a stain over paint might be the best option. Once sanded and smooth, a simple stain will bring out the natural wood and be finished with a quick top-coat for protection.
Depending on your stain choice, a quart (946.35 mm) can cost anywhere between $4.50-$30. A quart of clear finish can be found around $15.
To paint your finished dresser, you will need to prime it first, which can cost between $8-$15 for a quart. A quart of regular paint can cost as little as $4.98; however, you may find that you need two tins and extra coats to properly cover your piece.
Chalk paint is popular right now, leaving a colorful matte finish to furniture. However, the same size tin will cost more than $20 each.
It is possible to find inexpensive wood and hardware to keep the cost of your dresser build down. If you plan to paint your piece when done, using more expensive lumber would be a waste. If you don’t see the grain or stain, choose something cheap and strong.
There are lots of drawer slide options that are functional and inexpensive. However, if you want the soft-close option, you will need to be prepared to spend more.
A good stain is often more than enough to make your furniture beautiful. However, you will need a top coat to protect from wear and tear and potential spills. Primer is relatively cheap, and you should find paint on sale if you are looking for something more colorful and fun.
- Bailey Line Road: Cheap Lumber
- The Spruce: 16 Free DIY Dresser Plans
- YouTube: Pneumatic Addict
- Kitchen Cabinet Kings: Undermount Slides
- Fix This Build That: 6 Drawer dresser
- Rockler: Centerline Touch Release
- Lowes: Brainerd
- Lowes: Richelieu
- The Hardware Hut: Knape & Vogt
- Home Depot: Everbilt
- Accuride: Drawer Slides
- HomeDepot: Chalk Paint
- Jen woodhouse: How to build a dresser