I was cleaning out the basement and I came across several sad, lonely dresser drawers. I had picked them up over the years on the side of the road, but hadn’t done a thing with them. Surprise, surprise.

Since I was already sick of cleaning the basement, I decided to take a little project break and upcycle one of the drawers. And this is why my basement is always a disorganized mess.

I had two ideas for my drawer project.

1. Add some wheels and make an under-the-bed storage container.

2. Cut it in half and make a shelf.

I loved both ideas, but the shelf seemed more challenging and I was up for a challenge! Plus, I had just started working from home and I needed a shelf in my new home office for storage.

Making a drawer shelf was actually way easier than I thought.  It took less than an hour from start to finish. I’ll walk you through the 5 easy steps to make a cute shelf from an old drawer.

Here’s a list of the tools and supplies you’ll need:

  • Drawer
  • Yardstick
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Hammer
  • Plywood (only need for the first shelf style)
  • Sawtooth hangers

Step 1: Decide how deep you want your shelf. Think about what you plan to display or store inside. I went with 6 inches for the inside of my shelf. I measured 6 1/4” from the front of the drawer and made a mark on both sides. The extra 1/4" took into account thickness of the front of the drawer. Then, I used my yardstick to draw a straight cutline across the bottom and down each side of the drawer.

Step 2: Now that your lines are drawn, grab your jigsaw and cut the drawer in half. This part was actually really fun and satisfying.

Cut the drawer in half

Step 3: Cut the back for your shelf. I had originally planned to use the very back panel of the drawer to create the back of my shelf since it would be the perfect dimensions. But, once I cut the drawer in half, I loved the way the way the back part looked and decided to make two shelves. Luckily, I had some extra plywood that worked perfectly. #hoarderalert

Step 4: Nail the board to the back of your shelf. 

Step 5: Add hangers to the shelf. Depending on what you plan to display on your shelf, make sure your hangers can hold the weight. These shelves can get pretty heavy if your drawer front is solid wood. If you plan to put anything with significant weight, I would recommend a French cleat. I used some hefty sawtooth hangers since I planned to only use my shelves for light-weight items.  

Here’s my first shelf. Isn’t she pretty?

upcycled drawer shelf

I love this style of shelf to hide things. I put it in my home office and you would never know my ugly calculator, notebooks and pens are stashed away in between my pretty decor. I used small empty cardboard boxes to raise up my vases and my painting. Speaking of the painting, it was a paint by number that my granddad painted. How sweet is that?

Remember the back of the drawer that I couldn't bring myself to rip apart? Enter shelf number two! Isn’t he handsome?

Shelf made from an old drawer

This one is actually much lighter weight than the first one since it doesn’t have the heavy drawer front. And, I didn’t need to add a back, so it only took four steps to create.

Oh, and check out my amazing store directory from the Jones Store in Kansas City. This was leaned up next to a dumpster in downtown KC. I'm so happy that my husband found it before the evil trash truck chewed it up. It is so fun to take a read at the departments. Leather goods, laces, negligees and millinery - I wish I had lived in this time.

Kansas City Jones store Directory

Two shelves in 45 minutes - I would call that a pretty productive afternoon. Who cares that the basement didn't get cleaned? Not me.  #priorities

Next time you’re driving around and see a lonesome drawer on the side of the road, pull over and pick it up. You won't regret it. Happy creating!

Dresser drawer book shelf upcycle

2 thoughts on “Dresser drawer book shelf upcycle

  • June 11, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    Great tutorial!

    • June 11, 2020 at 7:52 pm


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