Okay, so I don’t have pictures of the finished family room. We tried to take them during the day, but the sun streamed through the windows and distorted the colors. So we tried to take them at dusk, but even the smallest amount of light coming through the windows turned everything blue…and not in a good way. The table and chairs…blue. The floor…blue. It was very strange, and very frustrating.
So we ended up having to wait until the sun went down completely last night to take the pictures, and since it’s the middle of summer, that ended up being around 8:40. So we didn’t finish up taking pictures until 10:30, and there was no way to organize and sort through the approximately 1,273 pictures that my mom took in time to post them this morning.
So sorry. They’re coming. Really.
So as a peace offering, I thought I would show you how I turned this dresser…
…into a t.v. stand for John & Alice’s family room.
Now obviously, if you choose to do this, your dresser will probably be slightly different in the way that it’s built. I think the chances of you finding one exactly like this one would be very slim. But hopefully just seeing the process will help you understand the basic steps needed to go from dresser to t.v. stand. And of course, I call it a t.v. stand because that’s what I used it for, but this would be pretty as a buffet, or in an entryway, or just about anywhere!
So once again, this is the dresser that I started with. I found it on Craigslist for $60, and it was solid wood and quite heavy.
The first thing I did was sand the top, not because that’s the appropriate order in which to do things, but because I was anxious to get that ugly finish off of the top…and I love sanding.
Aahhhh…much better. Now all is right with the world, and I can move on.
Next I needed to determine which drawers to keep, and which ones were going. I played around with different configurations, and finally settled on keeping the bottom two drawers, and getting rid of the rest. That meant that all of the area above the two bottom drawers needed to be basically gutted.
It wasn’t the easiest thing. These old solid wood dressers are generally very well built, and very sturdy, so once I removed the back panel, it was just a matter of whacking away at the support pieces with a very large hammer and prying them out. Some of them could be unscrewed and removed easily, but some of them took some muscle. When it was all done, it looked like this…
Now obviously, there was a bit of a problem. Those two pieces needed to stay between the two drawers that I was keeping, but needed to be cut off so they wouldn’t interfere with the open area above.
And because I didn’t have the appropriate tool to take care of that at the time, I decided to go ahead and prime the thing. Again, not because this was really the appropriate time to do this, but because I was anxious to move forward.
I finally purchased the appropriate tool to cut down those wood pieces, which was a very simple hand saw that allowed me to get the blade right next to the horizontal support piece that I wanted to keep, while cutting away at the excess vertical pieces.
I then used my circular saw and cut a piece of 1/4” MDF to fit on top of the drawers. This support was needed because all that was there was very thin, flexible chip board. I attached it with wood glue and my nail gun. Notice that the front of the MDF doesn’t come all the way to the front of the drawers. You’ll see why in the next steps.
Next I used a 1” x 2” MDF board, cut to size with my miter saw, to separate the two sides. You can see here that this MDF board sits in front of the 1/2” MDF sheet that’s on top of the drawers. Now you can see why I left that space. I attached this piece with wood glue, and then shot nails at an angle from the back with my nail gun.
I also cut two more 1” x 2” MDF boards and placed them horizontally at the bottom of each section to cover the edge of the 1/2” MDF board just above the drawers. I didn’t take a picture of this step, but you’ll see those in later pictures.
Next I determined how high I wanted the shelf to sit, and I cut five support pieces that height. I glued and nailed two support pieces on each side…
…and also attached one on the back of the front middle separator piece. (This picture was taken looking through the back of the dresser towards the front. You can see the two 1” x 2” MDF boards that I was talking about earlier, which are lying horizontally on each side of the middle separator piece.)
These support pieces were attached with wood glue and my nail gun. (That’s basically how I attach everything…wood glue, nail gun.)
Then I cut a piece of 3/4” MDF with my circular saw for the shelf, which I placed right on top of the support pieces. (Wood glue, nail gun…I’m sounding like a broken record here.)
With the basic structure done, it was on to making it look pretty. That meant covering up any raw edges that showed on front with 1” x 2” MDF boards. I placed them along the sides to cover up the shelf support pieces, and along the front edge of the shelf to cover those raw edges.
Now here’s my big secret…this is why I prefer MDF boards over actual solid wood lumber. I’m not a carpenter, and I don’t do things perfectly. Sometimes I mess up royally, like this corner where I didn’t set the shelf support back far enough, so the “finishing” MDF pieces stuck out way too far. It looks terrible, right? Well, that’s where my trusty electric sander comes into play.
And because these are MDF boards, and not solid wood, they sand much easier. I was able to salvage it, and make it completely smooth.
Another secret is that I rely heavily on wood filler. I know, if you’re an actual carpenter and you’re reading this, you’re probably having a good laugh at my expense right about now. But this is how we non-carpenter DIYers have to do things. I filled in all the cracks and nail holes with wood filler, let it dry completely, and then sanded it smooth.
So after everything was sanded smooth, it was just a matter of re-attaching the back panel, giving everything one good coat of primer, sanding it lightly by hand, and then finishing with a couple of coats of paint. I also re-stained and polyurethaned then top.
So that didn’t look too hard, right? I assure you, you can do this!