Determine the placement of the sink. Make sure to leave enough room for the lip of the sink to sit on the top of the dresser. Determine where the faucet will be placed. Draw circles where the sink and faucet will be. Use a drill with a hole-bit attachment to start the circle for the sink. Then use a jigsaw when you can get it into the hole. Place the sink into the cut-out to make sure it fits (it is easier to cut more off than to fix a hole that is too big). Use a drill with a hole-bit attachment to make the cut-outs for faucet.
If you are laying tile down on the vanity like we did, dry fit all the pieces in place. Leave enough room around the edge for a trim border. Center all the pieces from the center line of the dresser. When all of the tile pieces are in the right location, label each tile to make it easier.
Use a wet saw to cut the pieces that fit around the sink. If you don't have capability of making the hole in the tile for the faucets (a tile core bit), cut half-moon shapes instead.
If you are leaving the top of the wood dresser as is, apply marine varnish to the wood top to give it a protective seal.
One at a time, starting from the center, working out, use clear adhesive on the back of the tile and on the wood top (in a zig-zag pattern) and put the two together. Wiggle each one around to ensure they are in the exact location you want. Then move onto the next tile, try not to bump the other out place but make sure they are pushed together at the seams (use a little clear adhesive there as well).
When the adhesive is dry, seal the top with shellac. Apply three coats. Make sure there aren't any gaps in the tile for the water to leak through.
Place sink into the hole, use clear adhesive to put it in place, then seal it with bathroom caulk. Double check there are no holes for water to leak through at tile and wood edges and seams.
Joanne Palmisano is the author of Salvage Secrets (W.W. Norton, September 2011). Visit her blog, also called Salvage Secrets.