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I know I’m not the only one who’s been super inspired by the beautifully caned furniture pieces taking the internet by storm. While I don’t consider myself a sucker for trends, I am downright smitten with the simple texture, natural elements and ease in which caning can elevate a piece.
I was on a quest for an affordable nightstand option to round out our guest room for the Fall 2019 One Room Challenge and the budget was already stretched. But I was confident I could thrift something rad for around $50 and put my own weird little spin on it. After a couple of weeks of hunting, I came up empty handed and looking for plan B. Enter Ikea, and their stacks upon stacks of unfinished furniture, packaged neatly in inexplicably small boxes, just waiting to be hacked. I had a few ideas of what I wanted to do, but let my Instagram Story watchers take the reigns. They’re my backbone y’all; and sometimes I just need my people to tell me what to do. The people wanted caning. Scratch that. The people were HELL BENT on caning. So I dug into my research.
Here are a couple of the stunners I found that inspired this particular Ikea hack.
So good right? I love the thin trim and small knobs on the Dolores and the Marte gave me a perfect visual for a small dresser. I’m feeling inspired. Let’s do this!
Quick preface: This nightstand was a series of trial and error, therefore some of what you see in pictures is NOT what you’ll see in words. If I were to make this again, I would do it the way I’m explaining it, not the way I actually did it. Just follow mom’s rule and do as I say not as I do mmkay?
Supplies & Tools Needed
- Ikea RAST Chest of 3 Drawers
- Wood Putty
- Caning Material (2ft x 24″)
- 17 Linear Feet (LF) of Pine Screen Trim
- 13 LF of 3/8″ x 2″ Pine Mullion Molding
- Wood Glue
- Set 4 Plate Casters (I used vintage stem casters)
- 5/8″ x 3″ x 24″ piece of scrap wood
- Paint (I used Sherwin Williams Jaspar)
- Paint roller
- Drill Bit (sized to match hardware screws)
- Extra wood screws 1 1/2″
- Electric Staple Gun
- 1/2″ Staples
- Flat head screwdriver
- Phillips screwdriver
- Vice Grips
- Miter Saw
SHOW ME WHAT YOU’RE WORKING WITH
Open your Ikea Rast and lay out all the pieces.
Identify the wooden ‘Base’ parts which will be comprised of a top piece, two sides, and two bracing pieces. These are the pieces identified in steps 1-5 of your Ikea instruction manual.
Identify all the drawer pieces. This includes three drawer fronts, 3 sets (2 each) of sides, 3 backs and three bottom pieces. These are the pieces identified in steps 6-10 of your Ikea instruction manual.
MEASURE AND CUT YOUR BASE
If you prefer a more square finished piece as I’ve created vs. the rectangular shape (as the piece comes) you will want to trim your sides down. If you prefer to keep the original shape of the dresser, you can skip this section entirely and jump right into Painting & Assembling Your Base.
TBH, I’m not a big fan of the ‘kick plate’ at the bottom of the dresser. Plus, I’m using this piece as a bedside table. So it made sense for me to trim it down to a more appropriate height.
Using your miter saw, cut the bottom 3 1/4″ inches from the two side pieces. Your cut should be below the predrilled hole where the bottom support piece (I call this the kick plate) is to be installed. (*UPDATE: I’ve received feedback from a few that have completed this tutorial that the cut is shorter on some Rast dressers. It should be made below the predrilled hole, but also allow enough clearance for the bottom drawer to open and close without getting stuck. USE YOUR BEST JUDGEMENT HERE!)
*This kick plate will be rotated 90 degrees upon install so that the edge is facing front and the front is facing down.
PAINTING & ASSEMBLING YOUR BASE
Grab your stack of ‘base’ materials and paint all sides and faces of each of your wooden pieces (not counting the dowels). Allow them to dry fully before assembly.
Assemble your base according to the IKEA instructions in steps 1 & 2.
At step 3, you’re going to veer off course a bit. Install the center brace per instructions. When you get to the kick plate, Do NOT add dowels. Instead, use the two screws given to screw the kick plate into the predrilled hole as instructed. Do not tighten screws fully.
Rotate your kick plate parallel to the floor (mirroring the center brace) so that the top of the kick plate is facing outward and the face is pointing down. From the front, it should look like the top and bottom are the same.
(*Note: This stage looks a little bit different for me because the vintage casters I chose to use had to be installed into 2″ thick wood. As such, I needed to cut my kick plate down to 1 1/2 inches to allow space for wooden blocks to be installed. Your project at this step will look a bit different from the photos I’m sharing.
STOP HERE AND MOVE ON TO THE DRAWER ASSEMBLY BEFORE YOU CONTINUE! YOU WILL WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH CLEARANCE FOR THE DRAWERS TO OPEN AND CLOSE BEFORE DRILL ANY MORE HOLES FOR SUPPORT.
PREPPING YOUR DRAWER MATERIALS
Fill a bathtub with water and soak your caning material until it is flexible and easily unrolled. I left mine overnight, however 30 minutes should suffice.
Once saturated, unroll the material onto a large bath towel, cover with another towel and place books or a large piece of wood on top to allow caning material to flatten for 15-20 minutes.
*DO NOT LET CANING DRY COMPLETELY as it is more malleable and easier to work with when it is dampened. If your material dries out, simply give it another soak and try again.
Grab your three drawer fronts (identifiable by the two pre drilled holes in each piece) and fill the pre drilled holes with natural colored wood filler.
Once dried, sand until putty is smooth and flush with drawer fronts.
*Note: you’ll notice my drawers are fully assembled in photos at this stage. That is because I am working this out as I go. I ended up having to take them apart and put them together multiple times during this process just to test things out. That said, It may be a good idea for you to put your drawers together (following Ikea instruction manual steps 6-10) just to ensure everything is lining up as it should and that all drawers open and close properly. Pro tip: Keep your screws somewhat loose so they are easily taken apart again. The drawers will need to be fully disassembled for caning.
PRE DRILL DRAWER FRONTS FOR HARDWARE
Find the center of your drawer front (length). Mark the center with a light pencil line at the top of the drawer.
Next find the center of the width of your screen trim. If your screen trim is 3/4″ wide, measure down from the top of the drawer front half that width, in this case 3/8′, to mark where your hardware will be installed on the drawer front.
Using a drill bit that is the closest match to your hardware screws, pre drill a hole into the spot you measured for each of your three drawers.
CANING YOUR DRAWER FRONTS
Align the caning material on your first drawer front and cut out a piece as close to the edge as possible.
Staple the along the edges ensuring that the staples are not too close to the edge as to be seen, but also will be covered by the screen trim. Smooth and straighten the caning material as you work to ensure it is completely flat.
Hammer down or remove any staples that do not go in all the way. Staples should be as flush to the wood as possible.
Trim any overhanging material away. Cut away any caning that covers your pre drilled hardware hole.
MEASURE & CUT DRAWER TRIM
*I did not take pictures of this step! Essentially you’re creating your drawer trim as seen in the photo below.
Each drawer will be trimmed out with screen trim.
To do this, you’ll measure the length and width of your drawer front. Cut your screen trim to fit flush to the perimeter of your drawer.
For a more finished look, miter each corner at a 45 degree angle as I’ve done above.
BACK TO THE ‘DRILLING BOARD’
In this step we’re going to pre drill our screen trim for hardware.
I’ve included a short video of this process to give you a visual as well.
Clamp your top piece of screen trim into place ensuring it is as evenly aligned with the top and corners as possible. Use multiple clamps to reduce the chance of movement.
Using your drill bit, gently drill through the back of the drawer front through the screen trim until the drill fully exits through the front.
AFFIXING THE DRAWER TRIM
Apply a line of wood glue to the back of the screen trim and clamp it into place.
Wipe away any glue that squeezes onto your caning.
Carefully fill the small gap between the screen trim and the drawer front along the outside edges with wood glue or wood filler in the way that you would caulk a seam.
Keep the clamps in place until the glue/putty is fully dried.
Repeat these steps with each piece of trim.
Screw your hardware into place.
Fill the seams where the trim pieces meet up with wood filler and sand away excess.
Assemble all the drawers according to your Ikea instruction manual and install the drawers into the base.
SECURE THE BASE:
Now that your drawers are installed, it’s time to secure the kick plate with a second screw. If you are planning to install casters or ‘legs’ any kind you will first need to build a base.
You’ll also want to make sure you can fully open and close your bottom drawer without any part of it getting hung up on the kick plate before you secure it in place.
To secure the kick plate, pre drill a pilot hold for your your 1 1/2″ wood screws by selecting a drill bit that is the same size as the shank between the threads of your screws.
Hold the kick plate securely in place and drill through the side of the dresser into the ends of the kick plate.
Insert your wood screw but do not fully tighten just yet. Repeat with the second side.
In most cases, your plate casters can be screwed directly into this newly secured kick plate. If you are using stem casters like mine, you will need a something similar to what I’ve done here. But for the sake of simplicity, plate casters will be much easier to use.
Next you’ll want to cut and secure an additional piece from your scrap wood to duplicate the kick plate on the back side of the nightstand. This will provide the base for your second set of casters.
*If you’re not installing casters you can skip this step.
Measure and cut a second “kick plate’ piece from your scrap wood. Install it on the backside of the stand by pre drilling two pilot holes on each side of the nightstand into the kick plate.
Secure with wood screws.
Go back and tighten your wood screws on the front kick plate.
You’re ready to install your plate casters directly into these two bottom support beams.
Follow the instructions in your caster kit for specific installation. I recommend placing them as close to the corners as you can to allow for maximum stability.
If you’re so inclined, you can trim out the sides of your nightstand to cover your exposed screw heads with pine mullion molding. I intended to do this, even bought all the supplies. But when time is of the essence and you’re on a wicked deadline you cut all kinds of corners. This was one of those corners. That said, if you’ve made it this far, I have no doubt you’re capable of trimming this out on your own.
Thank you so much for your interest in this project! I hope you’ve found the tutorial to be informative and helpful. If you’re inspired to tackle your own Ikea Rast hack in some capacity, pleas tag me on Instagram so I can share in your success!
Thanks for being here!