Difficulty level: Intermediate (if you’re not afraid of saws), Hard (if you are)

This has been my greatest project to date, but it was not just one weekend. This was almost a year of transformation because I did not see the potential until I started “destroying” this piece by piece. 

Dresser drawers before. Hardware was the final hardware I used (not original to the piece).
Dresser drawers before. Hardware was the final hardware I used (not original to the piece).

The journey of this piece from one dresser to 2 nightstands started with the mirrors. Then I changed the drawer hardware. Then I took off the door in the middle of the dresser and added shelf baskets. After living with it 6 months and not being satisfied, I took out the baskets and had my dad saw it in half.

Dresser sawed in half. I wanted to take the apron off and create feet, but the apron was connected to the piece.
Dresser sawed in half (upside down). I wanted to take the apron off and create feet, but the apron was connected to the piece.

Because the bottom border was plastic (border not shown after cut–it’s only in the top pic), and the dresser was really rough when cut, I had to sand extensively. The shelf between the two drawer sections was held inside the unit by dowels, so I filled the holes on the rough sides with wood filler, sanded it, and eventually I attached hardboard to the sides to get it smooth. Wood was added to the bottom because each piece needed extra feet and to cover those feet, we added to the apron. Then I removed the hardware, spray painted all pieces (the drawer fronts were also plastic, so spray paint was the only option here), and finished it.

dresser-after-paint
nightstand number 1 after spray paint
Dresser drawers after spray paint (before hardware is put back).
Dresser drawers after spray paint (before hardware is put back).

The most extensive work–everything after cutting–I did consistently until completion. The process from cutting to completion took 3 weekends. That was an amazing upcycle.

Lessons learned:

  1. Sometimes things that seem like wood are, in fact, plastic.
  2. Particle Board is heavy even though it’s glorified sawdust.
  3. Particle board cannot be sanded and stained. (that was my original plan)
  4. You can sand hardboard (and you should if you have sharp edges) with fine grit sandpaper.
  5. Spray paint makes everything look better fast.
  6. Colored (I guess the real word is “tinted”) wood filler is the best stuff ever.

The spray paint is high gloss, because furniture usually has a sheen to keep it looking nice despite use and abuse. Colors used: Rustoleum(tm)  Chocolate(?), Valspar(tm) Ivory (?) (If you are desperate to know the exact color names, please add a comment below, and I will go back and find out.)

FINISHED!
FINISHED! (This made 2 nightstands)

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