Stabilizing dresser for use as kitchen island

honkdmOctober 30, 2009

How do I add pictures? Do I put them under the photo gallery?

I have an antique/old dresser I want to repurpose as a kitchen island/work surface. While the dresser is solid I want to do what I can to strengthen it as it will be on casters and moving around. Attached are some pictures.

I plan on using wood screws to provide additional strength to the supports that connect the drawer segments to the frame. I also will add two inches of plywood to the bottom connected via these supports in the back and screwed at an angle into both the front and rear legs. This will require removing the small support currently next to the front legs but I don't think that will be difficult.

I am leaving the original legs since they look nice but will cut off about an inch so that the casters will role freely. The casters will be attached just behind the legs.

The rear panel of the dresser is a thin piece of plywood (3/8") attached by finishing nails. Do you think I should pull this off and put a thicker piece of plywood? If so how thick? Would putting thicker plywood connected by woodscrews to the frame provide greater stability? Another thing I would like to do while the back is off is attach an Accuride Center Mount Slide for each drawer.

I have been considering Corian for the top since it weighs less than granite. Do you think Quartz would be too heavy?

Please let me know if you need additional views to provide suggestions.

Thanks so much for your time.

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You probably want something that looks nicer than plywood on the back. As far as stability, the most stable thing to do would be to secure it to the floor instead of having it on casters.

To add photos, upload them to something like Photobucket (free), then click on the photo , click where it says HTML Code to the left where it says "Share this image" and it will automatically copy, then you can just Ctrl-V to paste it into your post.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 9:04AM
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Interesting project. I'm confused about the caster attachment. If you attach them behind the legs, even if you cut off an inch, you'd have to have tall casters. I don't quite see that as being a good thing. With the casters inside the legs, especially if you use big wheels, the thing will be tippy.

Regarding the plywood back, one option is to leave the plywood that's there and cover it with another piece of nicer looking wood screwed into the frame from the back, using moulding to cover the edges perhaps. Sometimes the original plywood is cut into the recess on the back so perfectly, and nailed so securely, that it is a shame to remove it. If the plywood is a bit nice from the outside, a frame of mitred 1x4s might look good, and provide the needed stability - would look like a flat panel back.

I have to say it's a shame to cut anything off those legs- they're lovely.

Here's a thought for a different way to approach this, something I've done in my kitchen with a 3-shelf unit and in my storage locker with dressers that I roll around quite regularly: build a custom dolly and put the piece on top of it. For my shelf unit in the kitchen, which has about 3-inch legs on it, the dolly surface provides an additional shelf space underneath, but for your dresser you could close that space off if you want, on at least some sides. I've actually seen a picture somewhere of furniture legs being added to the kick space of built-in cabinets to make them look like free-standing cabinets - that would be the image to go with, curtaining off the base behind the legs.

For security in this case you could make cleats on the surface of the dolly to hold the dresser in place.

I make the dollies out of 3/4 inch plywood sized to match the top of the dresser, and if it's going to show you'd use a nice quality of plywood. Edge it with some moulding or iron-on veneer strips. Maybe round or angle-cut the corners so you don't hurt yourself on them. Attach the casters to the dolly, and you can do this almost right under where the dresser legs will stand, or somewhat outside them, offering excellent stability. If you want height, you can use maybe 3 or 4 inch wheels, otherwise use smaller wheels but use more of them - an extra wheel in the middle might be a good thing in any case.

The dresser you're using looks well built, but even so, the pushing does exert structural stresses the piece was never built for. You could reinforce till you're blue and not really compensate for them. For that reason, I usually try to push or pull on the dolly (often with the help of a foot) rather than on the dressers themselves when I have to move them.

I'll work on getting a photo of my kitchen unit, but I'll have to dust first :-)


    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 1:19PM
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Here are the images

Those are pretty long legs - even shortening them by an inch, I don't know that there will be enough "meat" to stabilize it if you want to push it around on casters. I'd be interested in seeing karin's dolly solution - but I can't imagine how to make it so the dolly won't show.

I've got an old oak dresser that was really sturdy 25 years ago, it's extremely heavy, but after 8 moves, it' pretty wobbly, it's fine for storing clothes in but I wouldn't be pushing anywhere near the top to slide or roll it anywhere on a regular basis. I'm afraid yours would end up the same way, esp. given its longer legs. Maybe you can use this one as a bathroom vanity so it would be stationary and would stay stable?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 1:31PM
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