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Classic 4 Drawer Dresser Build Plans

Build a beautiful dresser with 4 drawers with this simple tutorial.

If you need a lot of storage for your clothes, but don’t have the space for a wide dresser, you will love this classic 4 drawer dresser.

With 2 smaller drawers on top and two giant drawers below, there is so much storage space! But at only 42″ wide, you can easily fit it in most spaces.

This 4 drawer dresser is part of a coordinating bedroom set. I shared the matching 6 drawer dresser plans and 1 drawer nightstand plans already. Coming soon are a tall 7 drawer dresser and 3 drawer nightstand.

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Kati opening one of the top drawers of the DIY 4 drawer dresser.

PB Farmhouse Dresser Dupe

If you love the look of the farmhouse series from Pottery Barn, this dresser is for you! I designed the matching set to mimic the lines from that collection,

However, if you build it yourself, you will quickly learn that you can save a lot of money. I bought all the wood needed for all 4 pieces for less than the price of 1 nightstand.

This beautiful 4 drawer dresser is perfect for a smaller room, when you do not have room for a large 6 drawer dresser. Or build both for tons of storage!

Alder dresser with 4 drawers and the two large bottom drawers open.

My DIY dresser is built out of knotty alder wood. The top, drawer fronts, and side panels are built from alder plywood and the frame is built from simple 1×2 and 2×2 boards.

I cannot get enough of the warm tones of the alder wood. And I love to build with it. It’s easy to work with and easier on the budget than other hardwoods.

But you can build it from any wood you want to match your own style.

Classic 4 drawer dresser build inspired by the Pottery Barn Farmhouse dresser.

How to Build a 4 Drawer Dresser

Tools & Materials

Recommended Tools:


  • PDF Build Plans
  • Wood products
    • (3 1/2) 2×2 boards, 8′ long
    • (3 1/4) 1×2 boards, 8′ long
    • (1) 3/4″ plywood, 4×8 sheet
    • (1) 1/2″ plywood, 4×8 sheet
    • (1) 1/4″ plywood, 4×4 sheet
    • Plywood edge banding
  • 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws
  • 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws
  • 1″ wood screws
  • 2″ wood screws
  • 1″ pneumatic nails or 1″ pocket hole screws
  • Wood glue
  • (4 pair) 16″ drawer slides
  • (4) drawer pulls

Overall Dimensions

The finished dresser is 42″ long, 20″ deep and 35 3/4″ tall.

There are 2 smaller drawers on top (16″ x 17 1/8″ x 6 1/2″ deep) and 2 large drawers (16″ x 36″ x 8 1/2″ deep) on bottom.

3D sketch of the 4 drawer dresser with dimensions noted.

Cut List

Cut out the pieces according to the easy-to-read table and diagrams in the PDF plans.

Button to buy the PDF plans for the 4 drawer dresser.

Rip the plywood down with a RipCut guide into strips, then cross cut the pieces to final length.

Learn all my tips for easily breaking down sheets of plywood with a circular saw here.

Cutting down 3/4" plywood with a circular saw on a piece of rigid foam.

For the drawer fronts and top, iron edge banding around the perimeter of the drawer front pieces to cover the plywood edge.

Alternately, you could cut the drawer fronts from 1×8 (actually 7 1/4” wide) and 1×10 (actually 9 1/4” wide) boards if you prefer solid wood drawer fronts.

Adding iron on edge banding to the drawer front pieces.

STEP 1- Build the sides

Drill one pocket hole, set for 1 1/2” thick material, in both ends of the 3/4” wide edge of the side trim pieces.

Drilling a pocket hole on the short side of the 1x2 board.

Drill pocket holes set for 3/4” thick plywood in the perimeter in the side panel pieces.

On the top/bottom of the side panel, keep the pocket holes far enough away from the edge to not be in the way of the pocket holes on the side trim pieces. 

Drilling pocket holes around the side panel with the Kreg jig.

Attach the side trim to the top and bottom of the panel so the panel is flush with the back of the trim board.

Secure with 1 1/4” pocket hole screws and wood glue.

Attaching 1x2 trim boards to the side panel.

Attach the side panel to one leg piece with wood glue and screws so it is flush to the top and the panel is flush to the back of the leg.

  • Use 2 1/2” long pocket hole screws to secure the trim pieces to the leg. 
  • Use 1 1/4” pocket hole screws to attach the panel to the leg. 

Attach the third side trim piece to the bottom of the leg so it is 1 1/2” up from the bottom of the leg and centered on the leg (3/8” in from the front and back).

Make sure the pocket hole is on the underside so it is hidden. Secure with glue and 2 1/2” pocket hole screws.  

Attaching the side panel and trim to one leg.

Then attach the second leg to the other side in the same way.

Attaching the second leg to the side of the dresser.

STEP 2- Build the front frame

Drill two pocket holes set for 3/4” thick material in each end of the front and back trim, dividers and center pieces.

Attach the center divider between two trim pieces so it is centered. Secure the boards with 1 1/4” pocket hole screws and wood glue.

To hide the pocket holes, face the pocket holes in the top trim up so it is hidden under the top and the pocket holes in the bottom trim down so they are toward the floor.

Building a frame to go around the top two smaller drawers.

STEP 3- Assemble the dresser frame

Using the pocket holes already drilled in the ends of the front trim pieces, attach the frame between the sides.

The front frame should be set back from the front of the side 1/4” and flush with the top. 

Attaching the front frame to one of the dresser side pieces.

Then attach the remaining two trim according to the spacing in the diagram in the plans. Again, set them back 1/4” from the front of the legs.  

Use a few scraps of 1/4″ plywood under the front frame to set it back the 1/4″ required.

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Secure with 1 1/4” pocket hole screws and wood glue. 

Attaching the lower front trim boards to hold the dresser sides together.

Drill pocket holes set for 1 1/2” thick material in both ends of the back pieces and the 3/4” wide edge of the back trim piece.

Attach the back pieces to the sides with 2 1/2” pocket hole screws according to the 3D drawing in the PDF plans.

Attach the back trim between the sides so it is 1 1/2” up from the bottom and centered on the legs (3/8” in from each edge) with the pocket hole on the bottom to keep it hidden.

Secure with wood glue and 2 1/2” pocket hole screws. 

NOTE: The back of the dresser is complete. If you want to add a back to cover it up, you can cut a piece of 1/4” plywood to cover it up but it is not necessary for structure. Also, I prefer to have the open back to prevent things from getting stuck behind drawers. 

Attaching 2x2 boards for the back of the dresser.

Drill pocket holes set for 3/4” thick plywood on the front and back of the center support piece. On the back, only add pocket holes were the plywood connects to the back pieces. 

Center the plywood piece in the center of the dresser and attach with 1 1/4” pocket hole screws and wood glue. 

Attaching a plywood panel to the center top of the dresser frame.

STEP 4- Build drawer boxes

Cut a 1/4″ wide by 1/4″ deep groove in the inside of the drawer box pieces 1/4″ up from the bottom.

I did this by taking multiple passes with my table saw. You could also use a circular saw or router to add a groove.

Cutting a groove in the drawer box pieces with a table saw.

You can assemble the drawers with pocket holes or pneumatic staples. If using pocket holes, drill pocket holes set for 1/2″ material in the outside sides of the drawer box front and back pieces (not the same side as the groove).

Build the drawer boxes by securing the side pieces to the front pieces with wood glue and 1″ staples or pocket hole screws.

Make sure the top of all the drawer box pieces is flush. 

Attaching the drawer box sides to the drawer box front piece.

Slide the drawer box bottom piece into the groove on the sides and front. Then attach the back piece the same way you did the front to enclose it.

Repeat for all (4) drawer boxes. 

Find tips and additional ways to build drawer boxes here.

Inserting the drawer bottom and then attaching the back piece to enclose it.

I like to round over the inside of the drawer box to remove the sharp edge of the plywood. This step is totally optional, but is easy to do with an basic trim router and a round over bit.

Or you can smooth the inside edge with a sander. 

Rounding over the inside of the drawer box with a router.

STEP 5- Install drawers boxes and fronts

Install the drawer boxes using the side drawer slides so the drawer boxes are set back 3/4” from the front of the front frame (1” back from the front of the legs).

The drawer boxes should be 1/4” up from the bottom of the drawer opening, leaving 3/4” clearance on the top. 

Learn how to install drawers with ball bearing slides here.

Clamp a scrap of 3/4″ plywood on top of the front frame. Make sure it is level and clamp at the back of the dresser. Then set your drawer slides on top of it while you secure them. This will keep your slides level inside the dresser.

Installing drawer slides to the dresser sides.

Attach the smaller part of the drawer slides to the side of the drawer box.

I spaced them 7/8″ up from the bottom of the box to give me the correct clearance once installed. Make sure to measure and adjust for your specific drawer slides.

Sliding the drawer into the dresser to engage the slides.

Attach the drawer fronts so they sit inside the frame and are flush to the front. There should be a 1/8” gap all the way around the drawer fronts.

Once the drawer front was lined up (use 1/8” spacers or playing cards to get the perfect reveal), I used a brad nailer with 1” nails to temporarily attach the drawer front from the inside of the drawer. 

Or you can use my trick for installing drawer fronts using the drawer pulls.

Then permanently attach the drawers using 1” wood screws from the inside of the drawer. Use (4) screws per drawer, one screw in each corner of the drawer box front.

Attaching the drawer front to the front of the drawer box so it is flush with the front frame.

Add your desired drawer pulls. I used a small 1” black pull on the smaller drawers and a large 5″ drawer pull on the lower drawer fronts.

Drilling holes for the drawer slides with a jig.

STEP 6- Attach top and finish

I prefer to attach the top last so that you can easily access the inside of the drawers while installing them. So first, remove all the drawers, make sure to label them. I wrote their location on the back of the drawer box.

Place the top on your work table and then place the dresser frame upside down on top of it. The top should be flush with the back of the dresser frame and hang over the sides and front 1”.

Drill 1/4” deep countersunk holes in the top of the frame. Add 3 holes in the front and 3 in the back.

Attach the top with 1” screws in the holes on the front and 2” long wood screws in the back.

Attaching the top to the dresser with countersunk screws.

Reinsert your drawers and you are done!

Stain/seal/paint your new 4 drawer dresser. I used a matte finish to seal the alder wood without adding any color. I just deepens the color of the natural wood.

DIY 4 drawer dresser build from alder wood with no stain.

Don’t forget to grab the printable PDF plans here!

Premium plans include:

  • Recommended Tools
  • Shopping list
  • Easy to read cut list table
  • Plywood cut diagrams
  • Step-by-step instructions with 3D renderings
  • Helpful resources
  • BONUS: 3D SketchUp file

You did it!

Now you can load up your large dresser drawers and enjoy all the storage!

42" wide dresser with the 4 large drawers open showing the storage inside.

Happy building!

-Kati with picture of blog author Kati