This Instructable explains how to make your own drawer fronts for the Ikea Nordli dresser. The Nordli dresser is very low-profile, and also makes a great media center – I’m actually going to be using my Nordli hack as a combination dresser / media center in my bedroom. This is a DIY woodworking project that can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be, and use everything from high-tech CNC machines to hand tools. The only limit is your imagination.
The soundwave pattern across the front of my dresser was created using Easel software, and cut out on Inventables’ X-Carve CNC machine at a local maker space.
15 bdft of lumber (I used curly maple)
Ikea Nordli Dresser: https://goo.gl/GBBzxZ
drawer finger pulls: https://amzn.to/2OaStg7
Waterlox Finish: https://amzn.to/2Lfo2rf
TOOLS I USED
Cordless Track Saw: https://amzn.to/2LuE6EV
Table Saw: https://amzn.to/2A4tQP9
Step 1: Preparing the Boards
Initial Note: If you can find boards taller than the Ikea doors (or use plywood), that will make the woodworking aspect MUCH simpler. The doors on the Nordli are about 9.25” tall, and I did not have boards this thick. This meant I needed to join multiple maple boards by gluing them up in a panel, and then cutting the doors from them. For mine, I ended up creating two panels of three boards each, and then cutting each of those panels in half to make two doors. For the rest of the instructable, I will be providing instructions for the doors under the assumption you are doing the same panel glue-up to get your doors.
If you are using rough hardwood lumber then you’ll need to mill the wood so it is square on four sides. If you are using plywood, you can skip this step. Or, if you are using hardwood, you can have your lumber source mill it for you (or buy pre-milled lumber referred to as S4S).
The Ikea drawers are about 5/8” thick, so I recommend initially milling your boards to ¾” thick, and leaving some room to mill to final thickness after gluing up panels and cutting the doors to size from them.
I made the drawer fronts out of curly maple lumber. Because the lumber was warped, I had to make a planer jig to flatten them, and then use my table saw to square of the boards for a glue up. I used dowels for the glue-up, and it made things go smoothly.
I used the combination of a planer, track saw, and table saw to mill my lumber (since I don’t have a jointer). However, there are tons of different ways to mill lumber, so I’ll provide links to a few ways here, which use various types of tools. You should be able to find a method that works with the tools you own.
And, if you have warped boards like I did, you’ll want to use a planer sled and shims. More details here: http://www.jpthien.com/ps.htm
Step 2: Glue-up the Panels
I made two panels comprising three boards each, so that I could cut each of those panels in half to make two doors. Cut the boards for the panels at least 3” or so longer than the drawer fronts for the Nordli dresser, so you can cut the drawer fronts to size later on. Also, the combined height of the boards (in my case 3) should be 21” or more, so you have excess height to cut a clean edge on all sides of each drawer front.
On to the glue-up, I used dowels to help line up the boards and keep them aligned. This is optional, but I definitely recommend using something for alignment (dowels, biscuits, or dominoes). I used a vintage Stanley no. 59 doweling jig. I highly recommend this jig, if you can get your hands on one (hint: check ebay).
I won’t go into details of the glue-up because this is just a basic panel glue-up, which is covered many times over in other tutorials.
Step 3: Cut the Doors to Proper Height
Quick note on dimensions: I’m not giving the dimensions of the drawer fronts because you should use the original Ikea drawer fronts to set up your cuts, rather than cutting to a measured size. This is a much more reliable way to make an exact copy of the door. My build video shows how I used the Ikea drawer fronts to line things up at each step along the way.
First, cut each panel in half on the table saw (or using a circular saw with straight edge). Now you’ll have four pieces that you’ll cut the four drawer panels from.
Before cutting the drawers to the proper height, run the four pieces you just cut through the planer again to cut them down to 5/8” (this will also help even the boards out if they were uneven after the glue-up).
Now cut the drawers to proper height. However, you won’t cut them to width (the longest dimension, parallel to the floor) until after carving the soundwave pattern. (If you aren’t doing a carved pattern, you can cut to width too.)
To cut the drawer front to proper height, you’ll use the original Ikea drawer front to set up your table saw. Just put the original panel between your fence and blade, lock your blade, and remove the original panel. Now you can cut the new front panels to the exact same height, without any measuring.
Step 4: Carving the Soundwave Pattern
I used an X-Carve and Easel to carve out the soundwave pattern. Note that you could carve the pattern with a router and a simple jig, but, it is much more time consuming.
If you’d like to do the same, you’ll first need to sign up for a free Easel account (if you haven’t already). You can sign up here:
Then you can open the Easel file for the soundwave dresser, which is available here: http://easel.inventables.com/projects/sAC8FneA1Kt...
Since the dresser is over 60” long and bigger than the X-Carve’s work area, you’ll need to do it in two passes. The easel file has two workpieces, so you’ll need to cut both of those to get the left and right half of the pattern. I used a ¼” bit with the recommended cut settings for soft maple.
If you want to use another program to do the carving, the SVG file is available for download here. It is free under certain conditions, so make sure to read those! https://thenounproject.com/term/soundwave/112357/
INVENTABLES X-CARVE: https://www.inventables.com/technologies/x-carve?...
FIND A MAKER SPACE WITH X-CARVE: https://goo.gl/FwcQ9h
Step 5: Finishing Off the Drawer Fronts
After carving the soundwave pattern, you’ll cut your drawer fronts to length, using the original Ikea panels to set up your cuts. I used a cross-cut sled and table saw. I lined up the far end of the new panel with the far end of the Ikea panel so they were flush, then aligned them so the ikea panel was next to the table saw blade, and the new panel was behind the blade. This allowed me to push the two so the ikea panel was flush against the blade to give me the spot to cut on the new panel (see the video – easier to understand when you see it).
Then you’ll use a ¼” router bit to route a slot in the back of your new panel, the same distance from the bottom of each new panel as it is from the bottom of the original Ikea panel. Just measure the distance twice, cut once. I used a router table to dial in the right distance (distance from the router fence to outer edge of router bit = distance from bottom of Ikea panel to top edge of its slot).
Next, I used one of the original panels to make a drill template for the holes in the back of the drawers. To do this, I used a ¼” drill bit to extend the factory holes through to the front of the drawer. Then I clamped the Ikea panel to each new drawer front so they were perfectly aligned, and used the hole pattern in it as a guide to drill the holes in the back of the new panels. Make sure to use some tape on your drill bit as a depth stop, so you don’t drill through to the face of your new panels! Also, the ikea factory holes are metric and two different sizes (not ¼”). However, I found that using a ¼” drill bit (and making ¼” holes in the same locations on the new panels) worked fine – the new panels fit with the Ikea hardware perfectly.
OPTIONAL STEP: use a router to add a chamfer to the outside edges of your drawer fronts. I used an 11.5 degree chamfer bit on my trim router to give mine a clean modern edge.
Then it is time for finish. I used three coats of Waterlox on mine, and was happy with the results.
Step 6: Assemble Your Highly-upgraded Dresser
Obviously, you’ll need to follow the Ikea instructions to assemble your cabinet. Just use your new panel instead of the factory drawer fronts.
Also, you can use whatever drawer handles or pulls you like. I used these finger pulls that fit over the top of the drawers, and installed the one for the lower drawer on the bottom of the drawer. This way, the finger pulls didn’t block any of the soundwave pattern. https://amzn.to/2OaStg7