Don’t we all have a dirty little secret that looks like this in our kitchen? A drawer that is just a mess.
Or maybe this… what once was organized is no longer.
I spent a few hours with my saw, and now I no longer have those particular skeletons in my closet! Now they look like this, thanks to a couple DIY drawer organizers.
And the best part is, they are both adjustable and 100% removable, so it’s perfect for meeting your needs now and in a few years, and renter-friendly.
Watch the video to see how, and read the detailed instructions below.
How to Design and Build Your Own Drawer Organizer with Utensil Dividers
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To cut costs I used plywood. You could do this project with 1×3 pine boards if you don’t have a table saw, but it will be more expensive.
For my first attempt I used 1/4″ plywood, but after a few days the plywood began to bend.
Obviously the dividers would still work, but I wasn’t happy with the end result. So I decided to redo the dividers with 1/2″ plywood. Balsa wood or the thin “craft” boards they sell at the hardware store might work better than the thinner plywood, but the increased cost will be significant, and the thicker plywood has had no problems.
For this project you will need the following materials and tools:
- 1 2′ x 4′ piece of 1/2″ plywood
- Table saw or miter saw
- Palm or orbital sander
- Tape measure
Planning your custom drawer organizers
Step 1: Measure your drawers.
Take note of both width and depth as well as drawer height.
Step 2: Determine how you would like your drawer divided.
Our suggested layouts that we used are below. Some tips for designing your own drawer dividers:
Use your utensils to decide lengths and widths of sections so the dividers fit your needs. As you can watch in the video, washi tape is a good way to visualize the space with the dividers.
Think about pressure points:
- Do you want a full length or width section? Cut the dividers to the same length or width of your drawer so they fit snugly. Then all you need is spacers to separate each section that put pressure on the ends to hold them up.
- Do you want to divide the space lengthwise and widthwise? To reduce the amount of individual spacers for the smaller sections I cut channels in the pieces cut to the width of the drawer. Then for the larger sections I used spacers at the ends, and in the middle to break up the sections.
Suggested small utensil drawer layout:
Front dividers for knives, forks, spoons etc. The other areas I used for chopsticks, corn cob holders, and measuring spoons
Suggested large utensil drawer layout:
I wanted a larger area for my apple slicer, the center compartments are evenly divided, and the final compartment was decided after the others were in the drawer. I measured the remaining space so the compartments fit snugly in the drawer.
Step 3: Rip the plywood.
Using your table saw rip the 2’x4′ sheet of plywood into 3″ strips along the 2′ side. No table saw? You can have the lumber store cut the plywood into the 3” pieces and then use a miter saw for the other cuts.
After you rip the plywood into 3” pieces bring them into your home to acclimate. This will reduce the amount of bowing and shrinking when you assemble the cut pieces in your drawers.
After making your shorter cuts, sand the corners to reduce splinters. You can also spray with a couple of coats of polyurethane to make the pieces washable.
Instructions for Small Utensil Drawer
Step 1: Cut dividers.
Cut 3 @ 19″
Cut 5 @ 10″
Cut 3 @ 3 3/4″
Step 2: Create channels for dividers to slide into.
Set depth of saw blade to remove 1/8″ of material. Adjust the fence to 2 3/4″ and run both ends of (2) 19″ pieces through saw. Then adjust the fence to 2 7/8″. Repeat running both ends of the same (2) 19″ pieces. Continue to adjust saw by 1/8″ increments (the width of your saw blade) until channel measures 1/2″ or 3 1/4″ from the outside.
Repeat this process for the next pair of channels. Setting the fence first at 6″ and adjusting by 1/8″ increments until you reach the outside measurement of 6 1/2″
For the center section set your fence at 9 1/4″ and ending at 9 3/4″
Step 3: Sand the edges to prevent splinters.
The smoother the surfaces are, the better they will slide together and stay put.
Step 4: Assemble the first two sections.
Place one of the channeled pieces against the front of your drawer.
Place the (5) 10″ pieces in the channels.
Position the second channeled piece in place, and adjust the 10″ dividers into each channel.
Step 5: Place the next 2 pieces.
Using the (3) 3 3/4″ pieces and the last 19″ piece, place the 19″ piece and then the 3 3/4″ pieces.
Step 6: Measure and cut the final pieces.
Measure the remaining space, and cut 3 pieces at that measurement. My final measurement was 4 7/8″
Step 7: Place the three remaining dividers.
These will be held in place by tension to keep all the other dividers in place, but they’re easily adjustable (as you can see in the video).
Step 8: Refill the drawer with your utensils!
Here is the beauty of the pieces being removable. They are adjustable! To have the divider pieces in the center my chopsticks wouldn’t fit. So I adjusted the center pieces to accommodate the length of the chopsticks.
Instructions for large utensil drawer layout
Step 1: Cut dividers.
Cut 5 @ 19″
Cut 2 @ 6″
Cut 8 @ 3 7/8″
Step 2: Fit the pieces together.
The pressure of the spacing pieces is what holds this all together. So I cut the final pieces after everything else is in the drawer. That way you get a nice tight fit.
Place all the pieces you have cut so far in the drawer.
Beginning with the two 6″ pieces, then a 19″ divider, then two 3 7/8″ pieces and another 19″ divider.
Continue in the pattern until you have all the pieces in place.
Then measure the remaining space. My final measurement was 4 13/16″
Step 3: Cut the final pieces.
Cut the final 2 pieces to your measurement, and place in drawer. You want these pieces to fit snug. If the pieces don’t put pressure on the dividers, cut new pieces a little longer.
Step 4: Refill your drawer!
Then invite your friends over to show off your newly organized drawers. (That sounded better in my head.)
The hidden benefits to this project were; that I cleaned my drawers, and removed A LOT of items I didn’t really use! I hope you enjoyed this project, and that it inspired you to do a little organizing of your own!
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