How to shorten a tall dresser
Build | Fixing Furniture

How to Shorten a Tall Dresser

My wife is always coming home with new furniture – chairs, dressers, nightstands, tables. She loves to redo them, and they always turn out really nice.

Recently Eileen’s aunt and uncle gave her an old dresser from when her uncle was quite little. The dresser needed a little TLC, and so we had a plan to make it over with milk paint. 

However, after watching a little too much HGTV, Eileen saw a couple of DIYers run a dresser through a table saw. So as Eileen was out in the driveway getting ready to paint the dresser, she got a vision of how nice the tall dresser would look if it were shorter.

Now, I’ve never had to modify furniture in this manner before, so… challenge accepted.

How to Shorten an Old DresserHow to Shorten a Tall Dresser

Here is the dresser in its original lanky self:

Eileen wanted the new height to be comparable to some existing dressers in our house, so I set my target height to around 34.”

There were a number of ways I thought to accomplish this. I settled on the simplest method of cutting a section off the bottom and relocating some trim to conceal my work.

To make a quick prototype, I toppled the behemoth and lopped off its legs to get close to our target height:

See how to shorten an old tall dresser with this simple DIY tutorial

Once we were satisfied with the feel of the new height of the shortened, it was time to dig into the details to restore the look.

At this point, it looked like a giant box with just the legs cut off:

Use power tools to shorten an old dresser with this simple instruction

To unbox the look, I marked out cutting lines with my golden trio – measuring tape, speed square, and pencil:

Learn how to shorten an old tall dresser

My jigsaw made short work of cutting this dresser:

Using a jigsaw to shorten an old dresser

Here I extracted some trim for relocation:

Shortening a tall dresser with a jigsaw

Unfortunately, some of the trim had wood glued into some grooves that I needed to be exposed. So I clamped them down in my JawHorse and chiseled out the grooves:

How to Shorten a Tall Dresser

In the process of shifting all the trim upwards, I exposed some more grooves in the new legs.  I didn’t want to leave the grooves there and risk pieces of the legs breaking off.

So I filled in those grooves with scrap cut-offs accompanied by a generous serving of wood glue:

How to Shorten a Tall Dresser

Once the wood glue dried, I trimmed and sanded the cut-offs with my random orbital sander, resulting in some solid-looking legs:

Easy way to transform an old dresser

All the trim was now relocated and the dresser reconstruction was completed:

You won't believe the before picture of this shortened dresser

We were so pleased with how the tall dresser was now shortened. We were excited for the next step of the project – making it over with milk paint.

Check back next week to see the complete dresser makeover!

How to Shorten An Old Dresser


  1. JaneEllen says:

    Looked like really nice wood dresser,you did great job shortening it.. Good idea to fill in grooves on legs for strength and support.. Will dresser be painted now or? A high chest like that in my experience is called a high boy but I know different areas call pieces different names. Great job.

    1. Thanks for your comment, JaneEllen. I didn’t know it was called a high boy. Yes we painted it with milk paint – it’s the newest post on our blog if you want to check it out:)

  2. I love this makeover! Thanks for sharing the DIY info. Love your projects, Cheryl

    1. Thanks Cheryl! The dresser is much cuter now with less height:)

    1. Thanks Amanda! We are loving that it’s shorter:)

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Patrick!

  3. Great job! My husband is very handy with a jigsaw too and I’m always giving him little projects to do! #mmbc

    1. Haha it’s so nice, isn’t it?:)

  4. Wonderful job! Dressers are such useful furniture and I love them. Thanks for the tutorial!.

    Here from Janice Wald’s Inspire Me Monday linkup!

    1. Thanks!! Me too – they hold so much:)

  5. I love my jigsaw, its like my third hand when it comes to woodworking. Excellent tutorial, the pictures are perfect for this visual learner.

    1. Thanks so much!! Yes the jigsaw is great!

  6. That’s a great transformation. Once the dresser is finished no one will know if has been modified. Thank you for sharing the tutorial at The Really Crafty Link Party. Pinned.

    1. Thanks Teresa! Yes we just painted it with milk paint:)

  7. Wow, step by step even! Great job if that’s what you’re aiming for. Me? I would restore it and all it’s glory. I love antiques, but to each there own. Love how you made it step by step. That’s exactly what I would need! THANKS FOR SHARING! hugs

    1. Thanks Marie! Have a lovely week:)

  8. Great makeover. I was thinking about how I could use a tall dresser as a vanity in my half bathroom. Your post on cutting a tall dresser down is perfect. Thanks for the tips, and sharing on Sunday’s Best.

    1. Ohhh I love that idea! I would love to see it when you’re done:)

  9. You know, those shows always make it look like it’s so simple. Obviously there are structural issues that they don’t address. Great job on the re-do and thanks so much for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!

    1. Hahaa they do, don’t they?!

  10. Great article, and tips that I know can be used. Thanks for sharing on To Grandma’s House We Go!

  11. That’s a fun little tip! And a fab way to change the look and feel of a piece of furniture. I don’t think I would be able to do this, but it’s a nice project for someone who likes upcycling. Thanks for joining us for the #DreamTeam linky 🙂

    1. Aww thanks Annette! Yes I love the change:)

  12. Great DIY tutorial, pinning! I would like to invite you to share your furniture projects at #FridaysFurnitureFix , we would love to see more of your projects and help promote you!

  13. Jann Olson says:

    Great way to modernize an older dresser. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. Thanks Jann. Glad you liked it:)

  14. Very impressive! I wouldn’t know where to start! Thanks for joining us at #TriumphantTales, hope you’ll come back again on Tuesday!

    1. Thanks Jaki! Have a great week:)

    1. Haha I’m sure you do:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *