Rolling tool cabinet - after

Drawer organizers and trays

$10 Craigslist dresser - before

I posted a sneak peek of this project in May. It took me a couple months, not a couple weeks, but my tool cabinet is finally finished. I outgrew my toolbox end tables, but I refused to pay hundreds of dollars for one of those ugly Craftsman tool chests. Handles on both sides make this bureau easy to pull around. Ikea’s mini drawers form dividers and lift-out trays. What about the mini chests left over? I have a plan for those (coming soon). Please come back Friday to see my complete tool/craft corner.

How to turn an old dresser into rolling tool cabinet

The total cost of the dresser, hardware, paint, and drawer dividers came to $110. I call that a deal.

Supplies

Tools

  • screwdriver
  • hammer & nails
  • drill and 1/16, 3/32, and 3/8 drill bits
  • sanding block and sandpaper
  • wide foam paint brush
  • ruler and pencil
  • tack cloth

Bottom of dresser

1. Flip the dresser over. Prepare to install the casters. For me, that meant removing those pieces of wood.

Screw on the casters

2. Drill pilot holes, then screw on the caster plates. Mine are about 1/4 inch from the edge. I only used the locks on the two back wheels.

Disassembling wooden wine boxes

3. One of my drawer bottoms needed to be replaced. Instead of trying to find sturdy 5/16-inch thick wood, I disassembled a wooden wine box that I obtained on Freecycle.

Repairing a drawer

4. After my friend and local woodworker cut the pieces to size, I drilled tiny pilot holes before hammering in the nails (so the thin wood wouldn’t split).

Top guide rails

5. The top drawer didn’t have any guide rails to keep the drawer from tipping forward, so I attached scrap wood pieces underneath the top surface of the dresser.

Fill holes and sand

6. Remove the wooden handles. Fill holes and imperfections with wood filler. When dry, lightly sand smooth.

Wipe with tack cloth

7. Wipe the dresser down with a tack cloth to remove dust. Use latex gloves if you want to keep the stickiness off your hands.

Paint two coats of primer

8. Paint two coats of primer on the frame and drawer fronts.

Tape off the drawer fronts

9. Use painter’s tape along the edges of the drawer fronts as guides.

Paint and install hardware

10. Apply two coats of paint to the frame and drawer fronts with a sponge brush—it gives a smoother surface than a roller or bristle brush. Let dry a couple hours after each coat. Be sure to paint the back as well. Measure, mark, and drill 3/8-inch holes for the handles. Attach the handles with a screwdriver. I installed the side handles the same height as the top drawer handle (6 inches from the top).

Assemble mini drawers

11. Assemble the Ikea Fira drawers per the instructions.

Mini drawers inside a drawer

12. Insert the drawers in your desired configuration. Fill with your tools and crafting supplies. The top tray can slide back and forth or lift out.