How to Cut and Modify Vanity Drawers for Plumbing

How to Cut and Modify Vanity Drawers for Plumbing

If you’re wondering how to convert that dresser into a vanity, I’ve got some tips and steps for you!

I’m just wrapping up a full makeover on our powder room. The big reveal is coming next week. But I thought it was time to show you guys how I modified the drawers for our dresser vanity, in case it helps you in your own dresser to vanity makeover.  🙂 You can also head over to the very first blog post I ever wrote to see how I cut a 4-drawer dresser in half to create this vanity and toy storage.

And, don’t forget to see what my crafty friends have been up to too. I’ve joined up with an awesome group of bloggers to share our latest repair and upcycle projects this month. You can find links to their fantastic projects at the end of this DIY.  🙂

If you're wondering how to convert that dresser into a vanity, I've got some tips for converting a dresser into a vanity. And how-to steps to cut and modify the vanity drawers for plumbing. #AbbottsAtHome #DIYVanity #BathroomVanity #BathroomIdeas
Don’t forget to Pin Me!

Before we get started with how to modify vanity drawers for plumbing, I have a few tips for turning a Dresser into a Vanity.

  • Pick a piece that is strong enough to be cut up or be ready to build supports inside the dresser to strengthen it. The dresser I used was actually a tall 4 drawer dresser that I cut in half to make this vanity and toy storage. If the dresser has flimsy sides and seems pretty close to falling apart already, you’ll have to give it a bunch of TLC to reinforce the sides and reglue everything back together.
  • Pick a sink that works for you. A vessel sink that sits on top of the counter doesn’t take up any space inside the vanity. So, you’ll probably have more room for storage in the drawers, if you need it.
  • If you do pick an inset sink, you could fix the drawer face in place, use glue, Velcro, magnets, or even latches, depending on whether or not you’ll need to do any maintenance behind that drawer later.
  • What countertop material will you use? Wood looks beautiful, but the original dresser finish will probably get that hazy look after getting wet, and may even permanently show water damage. You might want to strip the old finish and use a butcher clock grade oil as the new finish. Or a great water-tight finish, like Waterlox, that can handle water. I was able to have a remnant of our kitchen countertop installed on ours when we had our kitchen remodeled.
  • How much effort will it take to clean? I put 10″ high legs on the dresser I converted into a vanity for 2 reasons. First, I wanted it to be easy to clean under. Secondly,  I wanted to be able to slide the kids stool underneath and out of the way. If you want to skip cleaning underneath completely, make sure your vanity sits fulling on the floor.
If you're wondering how to convert that dresser into a vanity, I've got some tips for converting a dresser into a vanity. And how-to steps to cut and modify the vanity drawers for plumbing. #AbbottsAtHome #DIYVanity #BathroomVanity #BathroomIdeas
You can see a bit of the new wallpaper I just installed in this room. I’ll be sharing the full makeover next week. I used Behr’s Castle Path mixed into a Chalk Paint on this vanity. I found those great drawer pulls at World Market. That mirror is painted with an Iron Paint then sprayed with a Rust Patina to get that beautiful look.
  • Make sure the vanity will be at a comfortable height for use. 36 inches from the top of the counter to the floor is standard. So, try to get within a couple of inches of that to make the new vanity comfortable to use and reach for most people.
  • Cleaning around the sides is another thing to think about. There is a gap on either side of our vanity. So the wall seems to get tons of dirty drips from our little guys. I’m constantly wiping our walls down. If that would bother you, you might want to find a dresser that can fill the space.
  • Also, think about a backsplash or how you’ll protect that back wall from water. You want to make sure the vanity top is snuggly against the wall. The wall should be protected by a short backsplash of some sort. Go with some sort of tile, vinyl, stainless steel, wood, or even something like the MDF V-groove wainscoting I used. MDF and water don’t normally mix, but this is protected by the factories protective coating, 2 coats of primer, and 2 coats of paint. So, it works. I also put a bead of Clear Silicone Caulk between the wall and counter. This keeps water from slipping into the crack and causing rot.
  • This may not be necessary at all, but as a safety-conscious mom, I screwed this vanity into the wall studs at 2 spots with 3″ screws. It would be really hard to pull a vanity away from the wall after it’s plumbed in. But, I just remember all of the times I climbed up on bathroom counters as a kid, and decided, better safe than sorry.
  • Just as a design note, really pretty drawer pulls or knobs turn any dresser into a beautiful conversation piece.
If you're wondering how to convert that dresser into a vanity, I've got some tips for converting a dresser into a vanity. And how-to steps to cut and modify the vanity drawers for plumbing. #AbbottsAtHome #DIYVanity #BathroomVanity #BathroomIdeas
I used a vessel sink called Anna by Jacuzzi. I’m not sure it’s still available, but there are lots of great vessel sink designs available on Amazon. The faucet is the Moen Brantford.

Now, let’s get to my steps for How to Cut and Modify Vanity Drawers for Plumbing!


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How to Cut and Modify Vanity Drawers for Plumbing- Materials Needed

  • Brad Nailer with Brad Nails
  • Circular Saw and Jigsaw
  • straight edge and tape measure
  • 1/2″ or 3/4″ Lumber or Plywood to Rebuild
  • Wood Filler and Wood Glue
If you're wondering how to convert that dresser into a vanity, I've got some tips for converting a dresser into a vanity. And how-to steps to cut and modify the vanity drawers for plumbing. #AbbottsAtHome #DIYVanity #BathroomVanity #BathroomIdeas
You can see the orange bathroom move-in photos for this bathroom in a previous post.

How to Cut and Modify Vanity Drawers for Plumbing – Rebuild Steps

Please Note: These steps may not work with all types of materials and joinery or construction. These steps will work best with drawers that are completely constructed of wood and firmly glued and joined together.

Step 1

First of all, don’t cut your drawers until the sink and vanity are fully plumbed and installed. I got a little impatient and cut before I had even picked a sink. Big mistake. My drawers could have been larger if I had waited.

If you're wondering how to convert that dresser into a vanity, I've got some tips for converting a dresser into a vanity. And how-to steps to cut and modify the vanity drawers for plumbing. #AbbottsAtHome #DIYVanity #BathroomVanity #BathroomIdeas
I used 3/4″ plywood as the new back of the drawers. The new back is sitting on top of the drawer bottom and inside the original drawer sides. I used a good layer of wood glue all across the bottom and sides. Then nailed it in place with my brad nailer on the sides and bottom.
If you're wondering how to convert that dresser into a vanity, I've got some tips for converting a dresser into a vanity. And how-to steps to cut and modify the vanity drawers for plumbing. #AbbottsAtHome #DIYVanity #BathroomVanity #BathroomIdeas
You can see the nail holes here.
Step 2

After the sink and plumbing is installed, measure the width and depth of the plumbing, and possibly sink, for each drawer. Add 1 1/2″ around the plumbing to make sure your drawer will be well away from the plumbing. Mark the measurements on the drawers. If you flip the drawer over, be sure to flip the measurements correctly too. Connect the marks with straight lines, to act as cut lines.

If your drawers use side-mounted metal drawer slides or runners, try to keep that intact whenever possible. Most drawers work best and have the most amount of storage when cut into a U-shape. This keeps the sides intact and just cuts out a section of the back and middle. If you can work with that shape, do it. If not, you could just create a really shallow drawer, like mine. If you do need to create a shallow drawer and previously had metal drawer slides, you might consider replacing the metal slide with a wooden drawer guide to maintain the same track.

If your drawers have a wooden drawer runner underneath or on the sides, you should be able to cut those and glue them tightly back into place. Make sure it is glued into the exact same spot to keep the drawer aligned correctly. I recommend tracing the line of the runner across the bottom or side of the drawer, or dresser frame, with a pencil before making any cuts.

If you're wondering how to convert that dresser into a vanity, I've got some tips for converting a dresser into a vanity. And how-to steps to cut and modify the vanity drawers for plumbing. #AbbottsAtHome #DIYVanity #BathroomVanity #BathroomIdeas
I like how the vessel sink doesn’t take up any space inside the vanity. It’s best to modify vanity drawers for plumbing AFTER the plumbing is installed.
If you're wondering how to convert that dresser into a vanity, I've got some tips for converting a dresser into a vanity. And how-to steps to cut and modify the vanity drawers for plumbing. #AbbottsAtHome #DIYVanity #BathroomVanity #BathroomIdeas
I did have a plumber install the sink and plumbing here. I cut away what was necessary for the pipes. You can see 2 screws in the back of the vanity that anchor the vanity to the studs in the wall.
Step 3

If making a U-shaped cutout a Circular Saw will make the quickest and cleanest cuts on the back side of the drawer. Then you can finish up the cuts on the bottom of the drawer with a jigsaw.

If you need to cut a shallow, straight-backed drawer, the circular saw will work fine across the job. It’s possible that you could save the original back of the drawer to reattach to the shortened front, if you carefully cut the sides off of the back.

Step 4

For U-shaped drawers, that just have a notch cut out of the back, build a 3-piece patch. The patch will be U-shaped to.  Just follow the cutout you just made to get your measurements. Always use wood glue to create a strong support. I prefer to put my patch on top of the old bottom so that it can create the strongest hold with glue and nails.

For shallow, straight-backed drawers; I used plywood that sits on top of the original bottom and inside the original sides. I used wood glue across all 3 sides and my brad nailer to nail it in place.

If you're wondering how to convert that dresser into a vanity, I've got some tips for converting a dresser into a vanity. And how-to steps to cut and modify the vanity drawers for plumbing. #AbbottsAtHome #DIYVanity #BathroomVanity #BathroomIdeas
You can see my DIY Drawer Stop on the back of this drawer. I have 1 on each side of the drawers. The nut and bolt let’s me turn that piece of lattice to the side to remove the drawers.
Step 5

Optional: Add some sort of drawer stops to prevent someone from accidentally pulling a shortened drawer out of the vanity. Something like this Hillman Drawer Stop or this Rockler Drawer Stop might work. I just grabbed some leftover Lattice Boards from my DIY Plank Ceiling to make my own stops. I connected the stops to the back of the drawer with a tightened nut and bolt. When I need to remove the drawers later, I can just turn the stop to the side so that it doesn’t catch on the inside of the dresser anymore.

If you're wondering how to convert that dresser into a vanity, I've got some tips for converting a dresser into a vanity. And how-to steps to cut and modify the vanity drawers for plumbing. #AbbottsAtHome #DIYVanity #BathroomVanity #BathroomIdeas
Don’t forget to Pin Me!

So glad you stopped by to see How to Cut and Modify Vanity Drawers for Plumbing. I hope you get a chance to check out more fun DIY Repair and Upcycle Projects from this month’s Farmhouse Hens Blog Hop!!


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The next time the Farmhouse Hens gather is in September. See you then!

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Check out my DIY Laundry Table to see how I covered the huge gap behind our machines while adding a pretty folding space.

Free Plans for this DIY Laundry Table Over Washer and Dryer. This simple build hides those ugly machines, adds extra style and organization. And works as a Laundry Folding table too! #LaundryTable #LaundryFoldingTable #DIYFurniture #LaundryRoomIdeas #AbbottsAtHome

And be sure to check out the full Laundry Room Makeover for more inspiration.

A fresh Modern Farmhouse look using teal, wood, and lots of white. This Modern Farmhouse Small Laundry Room Design is full of easy DIY projects and affordable decor. #LaundryRoom #ModernFarmhouse #Teal #AbbottsAtHome


Feeling inspired? Now you know How to Cut and Modify Vanity Drawers for Plumbing. Have fun and let me know if you have questions. Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.

6 thoughts on “How to Cut and Modify Vanity Drawers for Plumbing

  1. Leanna - Of Faeries and Fauna

    This is a great tutorial. We are saving to add granite to our existing bathroom cupboards and I want to convert it from one sink to two. As always Stephanie your inspiring me.

  2. Your vanity turned out lovely! Great tutorial as well!

  3. Darn it I wish I had this tut way back when. We converted a TV unit into a vanity but messed up badly with the back bits. This would have been so useful but maybe I can still use it to fix our patch work job

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