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I’ve been in love with the Sausalito 6-Drawer Tall Dresser from Pottery Barn since I first saw it, but could never stomach the price tag. So, we decided to make our own tall boy dresser plans!
These DIY tall dresser plans include 6 drawers. The finished dimensions are 32” wide x 18.5” deep x 49.25” tall.
This dresser pairs perfectly with this DIY cane headboard. If you wanted matching nightstands, you could even alter this DIY cane vanity for a cohesive bedroom furniture set. Or you can make these DIY round side tables to use as nightstands.
Alright, let’s start DIYing and make you a dresser!
How to Build a Tall Boy Dresser (Step-by-Step Plans)
- Miter Saw (we use this blade with ours)
- Kreg Jig (not sure which to get? Check out which Kreg Jig to get in 2023)
- Circular Saw (we highly recommend a cutting guide too)
- Brad Nailer
- Measuring Tape (new to DIY? Be sure to check out this post with measuring tips)
- Speed Square
- Safety Equipment
New to DIY? Check out our post on beginner woodworking tools to determine which tools to get!
- (2) ¾” 4×8 plywood (we used red oak) – technically one of these sheets can be 2×4, but I recommend getting a full 4×8 sheet if you have a lot of plywood projects coming up. It’s more economical.
- (1) ½” 4×8 plywood (we used maple)
- (6) 1x2x8 (we used red oak) – technically one of these can be just 3’ long
- (3) 9/16×3/4×8 oak edge
- (8) 1/4x2x3 boards (we used red oak)
- Wood glue (this is our favorite type)
- Wood filler (we use this one, but be sure to check out our wood filler experiment to decide which might be best for your project)
- ⅝” brad nails
- 1.25” brad nails
- 1” Kreg screws
- 1.25” Kreg screws
- Edge banding (we used this one – it’s long enough to last through a lot of projects, but please read the note in step 13 before purchasing)
- 6 pairs of 14” drawer slides
- Knobs or pulls for drawers (we used these)
- 4 furniture feet
The full cut list is available in the printable plans — both an optimized visual cut list and a chart list is included!
STEP 1: CUT YOUR WOOD
Make the cuts for the main structure according to the cut list in the plans.
We recommend making cuts throughout your project rather than all upfront. This gives you a chance to double-check your measurements and make adjustments if certain cuts got off along the way.
STEP 2: DRILL POCKET HOLES
Pocket holes are the foundation of most DIY furniture. Become a pocket hole pro in less than an hour in Pocket Holes: Explained.
Using the ¾” settings, drill pocket holes into the following boards:
- (5) along both long edges of the back
- (5) along both long edges of the sides, and (3) along one short edge of the side pieces
- (3) along all edges of the bottom
- (2) along one 6” side of the middle divider, one in each corner (¾” from the edge) of the long sides
- (2) on either end of the drawer dividers and the top/bottom frames
- (2) on either end of 2 out of 4 of the side frame pieces
P.S. be sure to check out our tips on using the right Kreg Jig settings before drilling into your plywood!
STEP 3: ADD SIDE DETAIL
Grab your side pieces and the 2 side frame pieces that do not have pocket holes. Add glue to one of the side frame pieces and clamp it so that it’s in line with the bottom of the side (aka the edge that does not have pocket holes on it).
Repeat with the second side and side frame pieces. Let the glue dry for 30 minutes before unclamping.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE SIDES
Unless otherwise noted, we will use glue and 1.25” Kreg screws for the next few assembly steps.
Attach a side frame to a front/back frame piece.
Place this piece onto the side. The side frame piece should be on the side opposite of the edge that already has a side detail attached.
In the photos, our front/back frame pieces extend beyond the side. After assembling part of the structure, we decided to slightly change the design, so we cut off the excess. Yours should be flush with the bottom of the side.
Attach the second front/back frame piece to the side. Repeat this process with the second side piece.
STEP 5: ATTACH SIDES
Use glue and 1.25” Kreg screws to attach the top/bottom pieces to one of the side pieces you assembled in step 4. The top piece will lay flat so that the ¾” side is visible when looking straight on from the front.
The bottom piece is oriented in the other direction so that the 1.5” side is visible when looking at the front. Again, the bottom of your structure would be flush even though ours isn’t in the photos.
The reason the top and bottom pieces are different orientations is because the bottom will have trim around it. After the trim is installed, the top and bottom will look like they are the same size.
Grab the last top/bottom piece and install it along the top of the side. Instead of being flush with the outside of the top, line the piece up so that it’s indented ¾” from the back. This piece will give the back something to rest on during install and will be used to secure the middle drawer divider later.
Attach the top and bottom pieces to the second side.
STEP 6: INSTALL BOTTOM
Place the bottom between the two sides. The top of it should be flush with the top of the bottom 1×2. It should be indented ¾” from the bottom of both of the sides.
Why the indent? The legs we got were pretty chunky on the top. We wanted to indent them so that slightly less of the leg was visible.
STEP 7: INSTALL BACK
Insert and install the back so that the structure is flush along the back and top. Note: we meant to install the back with the pocket holes facing inside the dresser rather than facing towards the back.
It’s easier to install with the pocket holes facing out, but if you want them hidden so that the dresser doesn’t need to be pushed up against the wall, install the back with the pocket holes facing in. It will not change the structural integrity of the dresser.
STEP 8: INSTALL DRAWER DIVIDERS
First, apply edge banding to the short side of the middle divider that does not have pocket holes.
Next, we’ll install the middle drawer divider. Measure and mark 13 ⅝” from each side–this is where the divider will go. Install with glue and 1.25” Kreg screws. As you’re securing it to the back, make sure it’s straight and square.
Place two drawer dividers on top of the middle drawer divider, one flush with the front and one in the back. Secure the middle drawer divider to these drawer dividers. Then secure the drawer dividers to the sides, making sure the spacing is consistent all the way across (should be 6” between the top and the first divider).
Next cut a scrap piece of wood to be 8” tall. We’ll use this as a spacer for installing the rest of the drawer dividers.
All the remaining dividers will be installed flush with the front of the dresser. We won’t install anymore in the back.
Place your spacer on top of the already installed drawer divider and place a new drawer divider on top of it. Install using 1.25” Kreg screws on one side and then move the spacer to the other side. Install.
Repeat until all of the drawer dividers are installed.
STEP 9: INSTALL FEET
To install the feet, first take the feet inside of the dresser, place them in the corners, and trace the outline. This will give you a guide of where to screw them in.
Add glue to the bottom of the furniture feet and place them in the corners of the bottom. If you are thinking you might want to remove the feet later, you can skip the glue on this step.
As someone is applying pressure to the furniture feet, add two screws into each foot through the bottom of the dresser.
STEP 10: INSTALL TOP AND TRIM
Place the top on the main dresser structure. Secure it to the structure with (4) 1.25” screws through the top pieces.
Cut your trim to fit around the top and bottom of the dresser. Both sides are cut at 45-degrees. We recommend cutting the front pieces first, then the sides, then the back. Cut and install the pieces as you go along for the best fit.
Add a bead of glue to the plywood edge and secure the trim flush with the top of the top using 1.25” nails. The bottom trim will be flush with the bottom of the dresser structure.
STEP 11: CUT DRAWER FRONTS AND BOXES
Cut your drawer fronts and the pieces for the drawer boxes according to the plans. Double-check the cut list against the actual measurements of your dresser at this stage.
The finished drawer box should be 1” smaller than the openings for your drawers. The drawer fronts should be ¼” smaller than the opening in both directions. The ¼” accounts for the edge banding and the gap that should be around the drawer fronts once installed.
*We made the height of the drawer boxes ½ – ¾” shorter in the cut list than what is pictured in this post. This is the largest height you can do where you can still get all of the drawer boxes out of a single sheet of ½” plywood. You can make your tall drawers up to 7.75” tall and the small drawers up to 5.75” tall, but they will require an additional bit of plywood.
STEP 12: ASSEMBLE DRAWER BOX
First, drill pocket holes into the following boards using the ½” settings:
- (2) pocket holes on either end of the front/back pieces
- (3-4) pocket holes around each end of the bottom
Assemble the drawer box using glue and 1” Kreg screws. Check out this post for more detailed instructions on how to assemble a drawer box.
STEP 13: MAKE DRAWER FRONTS
First, apply edge banding around the sides of the drawer fronts.
Then cut ¼ x 2 wood to make the shaker style detail. You don’t need to cut anything for the small drawer fronts. For the large drawer fronts, cut (2) pieces that are the same height as the drawer front and (2) pieces that are 3” smaller than the width of the drawer fronts.
Using glue and ⅝” nails, attach these pieces to the plywood fronts.
Note: you will be able to tell that the shaker detail is separate from the rest of the drawer front when looking at the front/sides of the drawer fronts when they are open. If you wanted a seamless look, you could apply 1” wide edge banding to the drawer fronts after attaching the shaker detail instead.
STEP 14: STAIN, SEAL, PAINT, ETC.
For this dresser, we applied some pre-stain wood conditioner, Minwax Weathered Oak stain, and then finished it with a coat of Special Dark finishing wax. This darker wax added a little more depth in color to the wood grain.
For the drawer boxes, we sealed them with 3 coats of Polycrylic in a semi-gloss sheen so that they are super easy to wipe out.
STEP 15: INSTALL DRAWERS
First we need to mark the setback of the drawer slides. For the top drawers, mark 15/16” in from the front of the dresser. For the rest of the drawers, mark 1 3/16” in from the front of the dresser. This is where the front of the drawer slide will go. I like to use my multi-mark tool for this.
To install the drawers, I like to use scrap wood as spacers. For the two top drawers and the bottom drawer, I used ½” scrap wood as a spacer to attach the drawer slides to the dresser.
For all of the middle drawers, I used two pieces of 2x lumber as the spacer. I placed the 2x wood on the previously installed drawer box and used those as a spacer.
To position the slides on the drawer box, I placed a piece of ¼” scrap wood underneath the drawer box. I secured the slides to the box, making sure they were set back 3/16” from the front.
You could also use the method outlined in this post.
STEP 16: INSTALL DRAWER FRONTS
Before installing the drawer fronts, drill holes for the hardware. Then follow the drawer front installation instructions outlined in this post.
Since the top two drawers only have one hardware hole, we opted to add two brad nails to the drawer front to keep it in place while we added the screws from the back. Since you already have the nailer out, you could just do this for all of the drawer fronts and then fill the holes with wood putty.
There you have it! Now you know how to build a tall dresser with 6 drawers!
For more bedroom DIY projects, check out these projects: