My daughter and her partner had just moved back from England to Vancouver, Canada and had already spent a fortune on furniture basics for their very modern but small apartment.
Space in their bedroom was limited by sq. footage and because of two capacious built-ins on either side of the bed, even side tables wouldn’t work. And the one space they could put an additional piece of furniture without banging into it, near the foot of their bed, would only allow for a 12 inch depth, particularly if the dresser had drawers to pull out.
They had an IKEA TARVA headboard in unfinished pine and everything else was white. They liked the white/wood combo for a calm, inviting bedroom.
So they were looking at an MCM dresser at Wayfair that cost $459 Cdn dollars. It had a white box frame and a few beech colored drawers, on angled legs. It was tall but narrow and 16” from the wall, so was still too deep.
I was staying with them for a short while and thought I could go one better, with actual pine to match their bed. A better fit for depth and width, and save them $400.
Enter RAST. Two of them. Used, crayoned, battered but free, from Craigslist.
Primer 1 qt shellac-based $25 (best for unfinished pine)
Pure white satin paint 1 qt $18
4 corner brackets $5
3 flat brackets $2
A few longer screws $1
So the makeover without legs would have cost me $61 with tax. In the US, that cost would likely be less than $40 not only because of the exchange rate but because things are cheaper.
I also bought the MCM legs and angled brackets for another $50 Cdn at Home Depot.
Moreover, the kids are still deciding on new pulls so there will be a cost for those. Myself, I would have just spray painted the existing knobs in silver or brass for another $6.
But as of now, total makeover including taxes and MCM legs is Canadian $111, and less than $80 US.
Steps to Stacked RAST MCM Dresser
1. Remove knobs, clean and sand everything down. I was only going to use four drawers of the six.
So I kept back the two worst-crayoned ones, of which one drawer face was made into a shelf, and the backs of both of the drawers were used for side tables later.
Sanding was easy – 15 minutes. Don’t press hard. Then use a damp paper towel or tack cloth to remove wood dust.
2. Construct the shape:
a) The Bottom:
The RAST bottom is hollow with just the two sides and a sunk back board at the front. I brought that board forward (outward) an inch or two, screwed it in on the sides, so it was flush with the front of the side boards, in order to achieve the boxy look I wanted.
But I needed a proper bottom too in order to attach legs. There was an inner cross piece of wood further up the dresser that I removed. I glued, then screwed, this face-down on two of the discarded drawer sides, exactly squared off on the inner bottom, then screwed the crosspiece to the sides and the drawer pieces to the front piece.
Very sturdy actually. This gave me the bottom. After painting I just screwed in the angled foot hardware in the four corners, then screwed the legs in.
b) The Middle – Connecting the Dressers:
I removed the bottom front crosspiece from the second dresser, then stacked and glued the side legs to the first dresser. I reinforced this with 4 brackets on the inside of the top dresser’s legs connected to the bottom dresser’s top. Not ideal but I knew they would be painted over as to be hardly noticeable.
c) The Shelf:
The top of the bottom dresser made one shelf with a high space that my daughter wanted. But I wanted another to lay across the top drawer of the bottom section. No piece was deep enough. However, the crosspiece I had removed from the top dresser, jutted up against a discarded drawer face, made a perfect sized shelf.
So I glued these together and flat-bracketed them. I removed the plastic drawer slides I wasn’t using, then nailed a pair to the sides for the shelf to rest upon. These slides were originally inserted into premade holes, but are surprisingly sturdy enough when turned backwards and nailed, though awkwardly. You should have a level for this part. The back of my new shelf slid right in flush to the sides so I screwed that part to the frame for extra reinforcement.
d) The Back:
The backs are thin pressboard and just nail tacked on but only cover half of each dresser. So I removed these and after painting them I re- tacked them to the back of the exposed shelving area, meeting behind the top shelf.
And that was it for the build.
None of the screwing or hammering was hard. I have little strength in my right wrist from a former fracture, so if I can do it so can you! And I spent a lot of time thinking about how to do all of this but only about an hour’s time actually doing it.
a) Make sure all screws and nails that will show are fastened in as tight as possible. Then wood putty over them. Fill all holes with wood putty. In some deep cases you can fill with the wood glue first. Sand smooth with long strokes.
b) Sand medium all surfaces to be painted. Clean dust with damp towel or tack cloth. Wait half hour always if you do use damp towel so dampness dries before applying primer or paint.
c) Two coats of shellac-based primer. Follow instructions on can for drying times. Lightly sand, just tickle, between coats and clean as above.
d) Two or three coats of paint. Before the final coat do a sand with the finest sandpaper you have, 220 or up is best.
e) Apply a quick coat of clear, not amber, poly with rag for best results. But I didn’t have any, and they didn’t want it on the pine drawer faces anyway.
f) Reinstall drawers, attach legs if not already, same with backs. That might have been it except the RAST is a product that keeps on giving!
Bonus side table
Remember I said my daughter had no room for side tables because of the built-ins to either side?
I had two solid drawer backs left so I just laid them inside each built-in drawer, over their clothes, and stabilized them with Command poster strips on the inner ridge. Now they have somewhere to rest a cup of coffee and a book! And their drawers still close — sans coffee cup of course!
Thinking: At least 8-16 hours!
Constructing: 1 hour
Prepping: putty, sanding etc: 1 hour
Priming and painting, not incl wait times: 2 hours
So it seems a lot but I did all the thinking for you! 4 hours and $111 or less than $80 US.
Including tax my daughter saved $400 and got a better-suited and better-fitting MCM dresser, made of wood not laminate. Not to mention side tables! Fan-rast-ic!
Would I do it again?
Likely only if I had similar space limitations. The RAST is the only suitable dresser I found at 12” depth.
But I find the plastic slides cheap and stacking was harder and more costly than I thought. So was painting unfinished pine because of the priming and more costly shellac-based primer.
There were a lot of holes to fill. These pieces were battered!
I’ve stained a lot of furniture and painted over painted furniture and both were far easier and cheaper than this RAST MCM dresser project.