Find out how to make a DIY antique printer’s cabinet from a real wood IKEA dresser for less than $50!
Confession: I don’t always finish projects in a timely manner, and my garage kind of looks like a graveyard for partially materialized ideas. I may or may not have bought these IKEA Rast dressers two years ago with the intention of making faux antique printers cabinet nightstands for my boys’ room… and I just finished them last week. Oops.
But done they are, and they turned out even better than I had planned those 24 months ago when I snatched them up for less than $40 each. Add $6 worth of hardware (seriously!), some finishing products I had on hand, and they’re done. Once I finished them, I couldn’t believe I’d waited so long to do it. Don’t worry, though, I’m going to walk you right through each step so you can make your own “antique” printer’s cabinet!
Materials needed for a DIY printers cabinet:
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- real wood dresser: I used an IKEA Rast dresser, but any thrifted or new real wood dresser would do.
- compact circular saw (must be able to set the blade to 1/8″ depth)
- straight edge, ruler, and pencil
- pre-stain wood conditioner
- stain of choice: I used Minwax Early American
- clear and white furniture wax: I used Amy Howard clear beeswax and white cerusing wax
- library pull hardware
How to create a printer’s cabinet or “map drawers” dresser:
Create faux map drawers:
The key to a printer’s cabinet look are the skinny drawers (sometimes called map drawers). To create that look, you are going to use your circular saw set to only 1/8″ to make your drawer fronts each look like three smaller drawers (a technique I used to create this faux planked desk). This can be done to a fully assembled dresser, obviously, but if you are using a new IKEA Rast like I did, I suggest doing it before you assemble the dresser (it’s just easier!).
- Measure the height of your drawer fronts and divide by 1/3.
- Set your circular saw blade depth to 1/8″ and use a guide to cut two straight lines across the drawer front length-wise, making the drawer look like three smaller drawers.
(Optional) Remove the IKEA Rast toe kick:
I don’t love the look of the toe kick on these dressers, plus my boys’ beds are rather low, so I simply removed that portion. If you also would like to remove the toe kick but need the nightstands to be taller, you could consider adding casters or legs to the dresser.
- Use your circular saw to cut 2.75″ off the bottom of each side of the IKEA Rast.
- Flip the original toe kick piece 90° (so you still attach using the front peg where it originally went, but you’ll need to add a hole for the second peg so that the toe kick piece sits parallel to the floor instead of perpendicular).
- Assemble the rest of the dresser according to instructions.
Give your antique printer’s cabinet a natural “old wood” finish:
If you are using an IKEA Rast dresser, then it is already raw wood. If you are using a thrifted piece, you will need to strip it of any other finish before applying this stain/wax finish. With soft woods like pine, I always prefer to treat with a pre-stain conditioner, which allows the wood to take the stain more evenly. Technically, this step is optional, but I do recommend it. Additionally, pine has very little natural wood grain, so I love creating a little extra grain using stainless steel wire brush (as I did in this other project). Again, this step is technically optional, but I do think it adds a subtle improvement to the way the wood takes the stain and wax.
- Use a stainless steel wire brush and scrub hard in the direction of the wood grain; this will create some additional faux grain in the soft wood.
- Use a hammer to rough up the wood in other areas of natural wear: the edges, around the hardware, etc.
- Treat the entire piece with pre-stain wood conditioner according to instructions.
- Give the entire piece one coat of Minwax Early American and wipe off the excess.
- Using a tiny paint brush, paint stain into the saw lines and wipe off the excess.
- After stain has dried, apply one coat of clear furniture wax.
- Finally, apply one coat of white or cerusing wax to lighten the piece and remove some of the yellowish tint of the pine.
Add library pulls for an antique printer’s cabinet look:
Hardware is everything in this case… And I found 22 of these antique iron card holder cup pulls for less than $6! Tip: if you tire of screwing in the 36 tiny screws, it’s the perfect job for 4 and 6 year old helpers. 😉
- Lay out your hardware to determine your general spacing (image A below).
- Use a ruler and straight edge to mark your holes for your hardware screws (be sure if you are using an IKEA Rast dresser to position them to cover up the predrilled holes that came on the dresser).
Note: if you use the exact hardware I used, here is a cheat sheet: I lined up the pulls so that the inside screw was just above the predrilled holes that came on the dresser, and I positioned the holes 1.5″ above the bottom of each real or faux drawer (image B). This allowed the library pulls to cover up the predrilled holes. And since the holes are 4mm apart, I simply moved over 4mm from the first line (image C) and added a second line of marks (image D).
- Predrill each hole using a very small drill bit (image E).
- Attach two pulls per faux drawer – 18 total (image F).
And that’s it! My favorite things about this project…
1. My boys’ bedside table
junk treasures are no longer in sight (I loved the vintage school desks we were using, but these boys needed some drawers!).
2. I was honestly a little unsure about the finish color at first (I’m no stranger to cerusing wax, but this was my first time using it over Early American), but once I got it in their room I realized it was the perfect lighter-toned almost raw wood look.
3. As always, anything done with my kiddos is infinitely more fun and rewarding than the things done without them. And since an inexpensive IKEA dresser is super low risk, they helped me out every step of the way.
My boys’ room has been a work in progress since we moved in over three years ago… and now we’re one step closer. 🙂 Here are a few more DIY projects we’ve done in their space:
And you can shop the look of this space, too:
Don’t forget to pin the project for later!
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