Maggie Lu’s Little Dresser

dresser fullAs our eZine readers are likely aware, I recently made a youth-sized dresser for my first grandchild. I got into the project late in the pregnancy, because our large extended family had been searching yard sales and antique stores for an appropriate vintage dresser. We felt certain that the perfect piece would come along at the right price, but in this we were mistaken.

So with just a few weeks to spare, I grabbed paper and pencil and sketched out a three-drawer dresser and got to work in my shop. The piece is 18-inches deep, 32-inches tall and 38-inches wide. I built it from birch plywood and solid birch lumber for the exposed finished areas. The web frames were constructed from hardwood lumber that was lying around my shop.

The drawer boxes are made from 1/2-inch birch plywood with mahogany lipping on the on the exposed edges. As is traditional, the top drawer is shallow and each successive drawer gets deeper. One of the more interesting things I did (from a builder’s perspective) was choose Accuride self-closing under-mount drawer slides. They worked great and close so slowly and smoothly that little fingers will be safe from getting pinched.

The finish is white lacquer applied over several coats of BIN white sealer. The finish should be pretty close to bomb-proof. All in all it was a satisfying and fun project. It is designed and built to withstand the everyday wear and tear that children can inflict on furniture.

After I showed folks here at the office the photos of the dresser, they suggested that we put it into a future issue of the Woodworker’s Journal. I confess to having no ability to be unbiased in this situation, so I will put it to you all — would you like to see a how-to article on how to build this little dresser? Comment below to share your opinion.

Rob Johnstone

dresser top

dresser drawer

dresser side 2

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About Rob Johnstone

Rob Johnstone has been part of Woodworker's Journal's since 1997, becoming editor of the print magazine in 1998 and editor in chief in 2007. He began woodworking at age 13 in his family-owned cabinet shop and, as an adult, trained to become an accomplished luthier. He eventually opened his own cabinetry and custom fine woodworking business. Rob has brought many of the most well-known authors in woodworking to the Journal's pages and introduced Woodworker's Journal Online Survey. When, in his free time, Rob isn't woodworking, he enjoys hunting for sharp-tailed grouse with his bird dog, playing music and/or listening to his son's rock band and cooking on his high-tech stove.

47 thoughts on “Maggie Lu’s Little Dresser

  1. Nice job – looks much better than similar ones you can buy in the store. Good furniture is either hard to find or so expensive our children feel they cannot afford it.

  2. Hi Rob

    I think it is a really nice design;one could even add an appropriate framed mirror to the top for the little lady to do her make-up!It is a very practical piece of furniture,and i like the sunken top.I would really appreciate a plan/article on this project .

    Good work!

  3. Very nice chest, Rob…great durable, easy to clean finish, too. Just wanted to
    mention that when our first grandchild was on the way, I built a cradle from plans
    offered by the guys at Woodsmith. It turned out to be one of my best projects,
    with the names of grandkids that followed added to the supports via a small brass
    plate. I should mention that its design was pretty much Early American, so that
    may or may not be to your (and Grandmas) liking.

    Craig Wilson

  4. Very nice chest Rob. Is the top sized for a mattress so it can be used as a changing table as well? Make sure you fasten it to the wall when the little darling is older. Those beautiful drawer pulls look like a very tempting ladder for a toddler.

  5. Great looking job. Any chance of you releasing a cut sheet?

    Reverse engineeriing is effective, but cut sheets are “better”.

    I have a new “Great” Grand-Daughter, (our first) that needs a dresser. I have an old cedar hope-chest that needs rebuidling, but the immediate need is for a dresser to conatin the clutter in her room.



  6. Looks like a great project that could brcome a family heirloom. I’d love an article on how you made it. Thanks.

  7. Rob Very nice job, like George D a changing table on top would be very nice! for mom and grand daughter. I got 4 grands now 3b 1g and they are also the best in every way! Yes this should be a plan for us your readers! and I like the finish also. bomb proof is always good for the kiddos! congrats to all!

  8. I would like the plans also, as I am in the exact same position, and need to get it finished by early June

  9. Would really enjoy seeing how you went about it. Make it a full article and breakdown the joints and all. Would also appreciate a cut list.

  10. Congrats on the new Granddaughter…I’m sure a star was born. Nice job on the dresser
    too! I think an article on the build would be great.

  11. Hi Rob, Being an expecting grandfather I would like to see this as a near future article. I think it would be great to go with the cradle I am buliding. Your design reminds me of a gift we got for our son as a baby and by dsign it became a chest of drawers which we still have in a spare bed room 26 yaers later. Keep up the great work look forward to e-zine

  12. PLEASE post the pattern for this! It looks like something we have been searching for to build. I am sure that Maggie Lu will get many years of enjoyment from it.

  13. I would really appreciate a plan/how-to article on this project. Very nice, and I am planning just such a project.

    Congratulations on your little granddaughter! Believe me, it is ‘the best’ thing ever, being a granddad.


  14. Rob,

    Nice design. I have two grandsons on the way for early July so I will need to make two of these. I must admit that when I first saw the photos I immediately thought of a changing table/dresser combo. I think with a few modifications to the dimensions it would start out as a changing table that could later be used as a dresser as the child grows.

    I don’t want to put any pressure on you but I think you will need to build more things for Maggie Lu and you should share every plan with your readers…furniture, toys, etc. From the other comments posted it sounds like there are a few of us (and probably many more) in the same situation.

  15. Nice work grandpa, but don’t look now there are other projects you need to stay ahead of. Rocking chairs, I’ve done one for each grand kid and one for each nephew who may me having kids, Table and chair sets, for each family, etc, etc.

    My oldest grand kid is now 9 and deep into his 3rd year of woodworking in 4H here in Nebraska. It is a sweet ride, and you still get to send them home to their mothers.


  16. Rob, Nice job, beautiful little dresser for a beautiful lil’ granddaughter, I’m sure. Definately needs to go in the mag.

  17. I would sure love to see this project in a future artical. I was just asked to make a dresser for a baby on the way. Your dresser would be perfect.

  18. Great job! Very well built so down the road it could be passed down to her children as well. Good furniture will last for years giving other children enjoyment just knowing they have something there just for them. Would love to see a “how-to” article on how you built it.

  19. Great Job, Can’t wait to see your next project for her. Maybe a Day Bed, or Toy Box
    Granddads’ like to spoil.
    My 1 1/2 really likes the her stool and Rocking horse.


  20. I like it. I’m glad you described the finish you used. I recently received a request for a child’s dresser from my son and daughter in law. They are expecting their first child. My third grandchild. I too, would like to see the plans.

  21. I would love to get the plan for the dresser. It looks perfect and would be a wonderful addition to any child’s room.

  22. Yes, I would like to see the plans. I have been thinking about making something like that and also would like details on your finishing.

  23. I would like to see the plans for this to get a better understanding of dressers. I’m about to undertake a twin bed for each of my kids with the dressers built into the bottom of the bed. I’m really curious to see the installation process for the self closing slides and also the differences in drawer dimensions and case structure that changes for undermount slides as opposed to side mount slides that I normally use. Thanks and congrats!

  24. Beautiful job Rob…….. I’d love to see a how-to article on this dresser with a cut list. With 9 grandchildren and another one on the way I’ve got lots of requests for furniture……. Thanks.

  25. Great plan and yes I would like to see this in a future issue. I like the design and can see making a pad for the top so that it is a changing table. With more grandchildren possibly on the way, I can use this design.

  26. please don’t mix me up with a “smith” , my title is Hamel-smith and is filed under H
    the original coment stands

  27. Make (or find) a properly sized pad and that “sunken top” doubles as a changing table until the little lady is past the diaper stage.

  28. My signature grandchild gift is a copy of an 1860’s shaker toy box. They all love it, especially the parents. However the grandchildren keep coming and I have to keep making, although I really enjoy it.
    I use rough material and dress it myself so I can obtain compenent thicknesses of close to 1″. I have used Pine on some and willow on some.
    When I visit I see them in use.
    I now have a great grandson and will soon be building another toy box.
    I look forward to accessing your plans for your dresser in the future.

  29. Rob,
    A great looking dresser, and I would love to see the plans if possible.
    By the way, would a picture of Grandpa holding little Maggie Lu be out of the question?

  30. Excellant project anything you get to build for Grandkids is a pleasure. Keep building and please continue to share. Hope to see plans in next magazine

  31. First, congratulations and welcome to the world of grampahood. Blessed be little baby Maggie and all who walk in your shadow.

    I would love to see the plans for this in a future magazine article. As others have said, good baby stuff is hard to find at any price. This is an heirloom piece that mother and daughter will cherish enough to hand down for generations.

    Second the motion for progeny pics, too.

  32. Very nice project!

    Please post the plans.
    On one of the forums, a chap made a bookcase that looked like and doubled up as a dolls house. A very useful piece of furniture for a young girls room.

  33. Please put the instructions on this site because I want to learn how to install those drawer slides. The dresser is beautiful and Maggie should be able to use it for her babies also.

  34. I would like to see plans for the dresser. My oldest son has 2 of his best friends expecting this summer ,and being as they are rent a kids to me I was looking for a project to do for them. It may be as close to being a grandparent that I get. Great job Rob.

  35. Just in case you need one more yes vote… here it is. Would love to have plans for that.

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