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Recycling An Old Dresser Into Desk & Shelves

Melanie and I picked up an old dresser on the side of the road this past summer but it was not in good shape and too big for our tiny house loft. So today we demolished the dresser to use the wood for a desk and shelves upstairs.


In the morning it was already 52 degrees outside on this mid January day. It got up to the low 60s outside by mid day. This is quite amazing for this time of year but I enjoyed it fully.


I had to get some water from the creek. We use fresh mountain creek water for our drinking water in our off grid tiny house. The rain water coming off the roof of the tiny house can be contaminated with too much dirt and creosote from the wood stove so we only use that for bathing and washing things. For drinking it is only filtered creek water.


I take a six gallon water container to the creek as needed and fill it up. Back in the tiny house we use a black Berkey water filter I got a couple years ago. This gives us the finest tasting water you can get. We could probably drink the creek water straight but we do not risk it just to be safe.




I was trying out a new sunglas camera while getting the water. I hope to be able to use this camera when shopping or out on trips. It is both discreet and comfortable.


Many people suggest that we use a ram pump to get water to the off grid tiny house. There are a few problems with this idea. One is that the creek is about a quarter mile from our tiny house. And it is not on our own property. Another problem is the pure distance to the tiny house. We could never afford the pipes to run it to the house. And then we would have to bury it 5 feet deep to prevent freezing during winter. A ram pump is intermittant and would freeze solid during the cold winter months. With the rocks and boulders here it would be a huge undertaking to dig such a trench. You would need a large backhoe to do the job. But again, its not even on our property.


We had this old dresser up in the tiny house loft since the day we brought it home. We had first cleaned it up of course and brought it up to the loft. But it was way too large for our small space. And the dresser was not in the best of shape. Two of the six drawers had no bottom in them and the rest were not very solid. But it was all we had at the time.


Now that we have recently built a storage cabinet out of recycled pallet wood for our clothing, we can demolish this old dresser and put it to good use elsewhere. You can read the article where we built the pallet wood cabinet here: Building Tiny House Cabinets With Reclaimed Pallet Wood


Not the dresser was emtpy and I pulled out all the drawers. I hammered them apart and Melanie used her new tool box to pull out all the nails neatly. We are keeping literally everything from this old dresser from the wood to the nails. Nothing is going to be wasted.

I continued on the demolition of the dresser itself while Melanie cleaned up the wood. We managed to break down the entire dresser eventually. Now we had a place freed up in our tiny house loft for Melanie's craft area. She wants her own desk there.


So I cut a piece of the dresser top to fit into place as a desk top. Some salvaged 2x4 lumber made a solid frame for the desk top on the back side. Two pieces of the dresser framing were used as angle braces from the front of the desk top to the back wall underneath. This gives the desk a very solid built. Now Melanie can literally lean her weight on the desk with no problem.


Next I took some of the wood that was left from the drawers and made a shelf over Melanie's desk. I will later cut some angled boards for extra support underneath. And I want to put a piece of trim on the front edge to keep the two pieces of wood in line with one another. For some reason they are not lining up. One is most likely warped.


Using reclaimed lumber to build desk and shelves in our tiny house


Melanie moved her personal and craft items into her new office. She is so pleased with the new space. And she is just beaming when talking about her new pink tool kit that my Dad gave her.


You can watch the video of today's work here: Recycling Old Dresser Into Desk & Shelves

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Troy Reid


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