DIY Modern Dresser – With 9 Drawers!


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November 10, 2023
Zoe Hunt

The last piece of furniture we needed to build to complete our DIY bedroom furniture set is…a DIY dresser! We chose a more modern design for this dresser, but contrasted the modern design with a unique, aged finish. 

This 9 drawer dresser design offers a lot of storage space.

DIY modern dresser with 9 drawers

Alright, let’s dive on in and start building! 

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How to Build a Modern Dresser

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Shopping List: 


The overall dimensions of the DIY dresser are 67 ¼” wide, 20” deep, and 33” tall. If you prefer printable plans, you can grab them here.

make this modern dresser text pointing to image of oak dresser in garage workshop


This step is optional, but personally I’ve found it really helpful to seal my ½” plywood before cutting anything down. I applied 3 coats of Spar Urethane in Satin to my ½” plywood, lightly sanding with 220 grit sandpaper between each coat. 

Polycrylic is also a great option. We chose Spar Urethane because we had a lot of it on hand. I would highly recommend a satin, semi-gloss, or glossy finish. This will make your drawer boxes easier to wipe down and they’ll feel more luxurious.


Make your cuts according to the cut list in the printable plans. We like to cut our plywood down using a circular saw and the Kreg Accu-Cut cutting guide. 

Please note: we recommend waiting to cut any of the drawer pieces until after you’ve assembled your main structure. The key to drawers is proper sizing, so you may have to adjust the cuts for these slightly based on the actual openings of your drawers. 

Want to DIY buy don\'t know where to start? Click here to grab your free guide!


Using the ¾” settings, drill pocket holes into the following boards: 

  •  along both short edges and one long edge of the bottom
  • (4) on one short edge of the side
  • along all edges of the middle dividers
  • along both short edges and one long edge of the back
  • (2) on each short end of the front dividers
  • (2) on each short end of the drawer dividers (long and short)
  •  along one long edge of the base (long)
  • (2) on each short edge and (2) along one long edge of the base (short) and base supports

Pocket holes are the foundation of most DIY furniture. Become a pocket hole pro in less than an hour in Pocket Holes: Explained.


Apply edge banding to the following pieces: 

  • the long edge of the bottom that does not have pocket holes
  • both long edges of the sides
  • Along one long edge of the drawer dividers (long and short)
  • Around all edges of the top
  • Along both short edges of the base (long)
  • All around the drawer fronts (note: we recommend cutting these after you assemble the structure to ensure the sizing fits your actual dimensions)


I like to knock out the majority of my sanding before assembling so that I don’t have to worry about getting into all of the nooks and crannies later. It’s also helpful to check to see if your edge banding is applied well. If it’s not, it might start to gap while you’re sanding. If this happens, be sure to re-iron those areas before staining later! 

I sanded my pieces with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper. 


Attach the short base pieces to the long base pieces with glue and 1.25” Kreg screws. Evenly distribute the base supports and secure them with 1.25” Kreg screws. 

As you’re doing this, make sure that all of the pocket holes that will be used to attach the base to the bottom of the dresser are facing the same direction. 

assemble base of dresser with pocket holes


Using glue and 1.25” Kreg screws, secure the bottom to the sides. The bottom will be flush with the front of the sides, but inset ¾” from the back of the sides. This gives the back a place to slide in. 

attaching bottom of dresser to plywood sides


Using glue and 1.25” Kreg screws, secure the top to the sides, checking that the dresser frame is square.

installing top of dresser to sides


First we’ll install the front dividers. Use the small drawer dividers as spacers to determine exactly where these dividers should be placed. Install with glue and 1.25” Kreg screws so that the dividers are flush with the front of the top and bottom of the dresser. 

using dividers as spacers to install vertical dividers on DIY dresser

Next, install the drawer dividers. In our photos you can see that we made the drawer dividers very thin. You can do this, but if we were to make this dresser again, we would double the width of these dividers as we outline in the printable plans. 

using scrap wood as spacer to install drawer dividers

If you are using oak like we did, you’ll need two types of Kreg screws here: coarse thread and fine thread. Any time you are screwing into plywood, you will use the coarse thread screws. When you are drilling into the oak front divider, you will use fine thread screws to minimize the chances of your wood spitting. 

Though in my pictures some of the pocket holes are facing up, make sure that you install these dividers so that the pocket holes are facing down to the ground! Because we’re indenting the drawer fronts slightly, you can see the pocket holes if they are facing up. We had to go back and flip the drawer dividers at the end. 

Now that the horizontal drawer dividers are installed, you can install the middle dividers. These will be flush with the sides of the front dividers. As you’re installing, double-check that things are staying nice and square and straight. It’s imperative that these are installed straight if you want your drawer slides to work well later. 

DIY dresser with dividers installed sitting on garage floor

Also remember to use the fine thread screws when you’re attaching the vertical dividers to the 1×3 front dividers if you are using oak. The rest of the pocket holes will use the coarse thread screws. 


Place the back inside of the dresser and secure it with 1.25” Kreg screws. We opted to place our pocket holes facing the inside of the cabinet so that no pocket holes were visible from the outside. 

Don’t forget to secure the back using the pocket holes in the dividers and bottom as well. 

Free download wood sizing cheatsheet


Center up the base on the bottom of the dresser. Secure with 1.25” Kreg screws. 

attaching base of dresser to bottom using pocket holes


Now that the base is all finished, it’s time to measure for the drawers. I love using a laser measurer for this because it’s quicker and accurate. 

DIY dresser sitting in garage without any drawers

For each drawer, you’ll want to measure the front and back of the opening. I also recommend measuring from the top and bottom of the opening to ensure the cabinet box is nice and square. If your measurements are the same, you’re good to move forward. If they are off by 1/16”, you’ll use the smallest measurement for all of the calculations. If things are off by an ⅛” or more, you may want to consider moving some things around to make your box more square. 

Once you measure, use the formulas in this post to get your drawer box measurements. Cut your drawer boxes accordingly. 

If you already sealed your drawers like we did, be sure to put the sealed side down if cutting with a circular saw. This will help reduce splintering of the wood on the sealed side. 

Assemble the drawers using glue and pocket holes as is outlined in this guide to DIY drawers

That guide also talks through how to install the drawer slides. We like to use scrap wood as spacers when installing ours. 


If you’re using more traditional drawer pulls, you won’t install them until after you install the drawer fronts. We outline that process a bit more in this DIY drawers guide. 

Since our pulls were installed on top of the drawer fronts, we needed to install them prior to installing the drawer fronts to ensure there was enough room for the pulls. 

For the small drawers, we used our multi-mark tool to help center the drawer pulls up. For the large drawers, we just used a measuring tape since the multi-mark tool didn’t go out that far. 

installing drawer pulls to top of drawer fronts

Once centered, I drilled two pilot holes before adding the screws.


To install the drawer fronts, we opted to first place the dresser on its back. If you go this route, I highly recommend placing the dresser on some scrap wood or some project blocks so that it’s easier to lift up when it’s time to put it back on its feet. 

Place the drawer fronts on top of the drawer boxes and center them up. We just eyeballed the spacing for them. 

nailing drawer fronts to drawer boxes in dresser

The other option is that you can use a deck of cards to help you evenly space the drawer fronts. You can see this in action in our DIY entry bench with storage tutorial

Once happy with the placement, add 4 nails to each of the small drawer fronts and 6 nails to each of the large drawer fronts. Make sure you’re not getting too close to the edges. You need to make sure you’re nailing into the drawer box that’s below. 

Lift the dresser back up and carefully open the drawers.  Secure the drawer front through the drawer box using (4) 1” screws. 

installing drawer front with screws


To finish our dresser, we first applied wood filler to the nail holes and to any seams that had slight gaps. Once the wood filler dried, we sanded off the excess and sanded the whole dresser down with 220 grit sandpaper to prepare it for stain

DIY dresser made from oak with dark modern drawer pulls

At this point, you can finish your dresser with any finish that meets the look you’re going for. If you like our look, here’s what we did. 

First, we used a foam brush to apply Minwax Wood Effects in Charred Black. This is a very unique finish. It’s not a stain. It actually reacts with the tannins in wood to give it a more aged look. 

close up of Minwax Charred Wood Effects finish on red oak plywood

Since it reacts with the tannins and doesn’t just sit on top, the results may vary from piece to piece. It’s also important to note that it works great on wood like oak that is high in tannins, but will not work on pine which has very minimal tannins. 

After letting it dry for about 2 hours, I sealed it with Minwax Finishing Wax in Natural. I buffed it on with a clean rag. 

black modern dresser with black drawer pulls

There you have it! Now you know how to build your very own modern dresser! I love that this dresser has 9 drawers instead of the standard 6 drawer look. The smaller drawers help keep things a bit more organized, but you still get the benefit of having a few larger drawers for things that require a little more space. 

side view of DIY dresser with 9 drawers
DIY dresser stained dark in a blue bedroom

Don’t forget to grab the printable plans for this DIY dresser!

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