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    Build a Kitchen Drawer Organizer

    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    Ralph Bagnall, also-known-as the Consulting Woodworker, has a great plan for a kitchen drawer organizer on his site that's available for download. Have a look at the excerpt below and be sure to download the plan from the link at the top of this page. 

    To Organize Your Kitchen, Divide and Conquer

    The basic problem with commercially available drawer organizers is that what needs to be organized is different for every drawer, and the drawers that the organizer must fit can be just about any size. The only real solution to the problem is custom-making each organizer for the drawer at hand, and to divide as needed. Not only is that time consuming, but a drawer's use rarely remains the same over time--new flatware or gadgets are acquired; kids grow up and learn to cook; food tastes change. Before long, that custom organizer you made is obsolete.

    I've built dozens of drawer organizers over the years for clients, and these challenges were in mind when my wife and I remodeled our kitchen. I finally hit on a system that's pretty easy to make yet remains flexible enough to rearrange as needed. The organizer shown here was built for a flatware drawer, but could be used in any drawer to keep everything neat and at hand. You might even consider making one for your toolbox.

    Getting Started

    The system is quite simple: A grid of holes is drilled into a plywood base, with the spacing of the holes matched to holes in the bottom of the divider stock. The dividers are simply cut to length and screwed onto the plywood base where desired.

    After a lot of testing and adjusting, I found that 1-1/4-inch spacing between the holes works best. Smaller spacing is all right, but means drilling a lot more holes, most of which will never be used. Larger spacing reduces the options for finding the right size compartments.

    The first step is to measure the drawer, being sure to note the depth of the drawer box. Your assembled organizer should be flush with the top of the drawer sides, or just a little below. My drawer is 3" deep, so the divider stock is milled to 2-1/2-inch high. With a 1/4-inch base, this leaves a little space above the organizer. Mill the divider stock flat, true and to 3/8-inch thickness. There is no specific length needed: whatever scraps you have will work, but two or three of them should be at least the full width of the drawer to provide the main dividers. Smaller pieces can be used for the secondary dividers. The dividers are reusable if you change the setup of the organizer, but it's a good idea to make extra divider stock. It can be stored in the back of the drawer, and used in the future if you need to make radical changes to the organizer.

    How to Make

    Drilling the Dividersclick to enlarge

    Drilling the Dividers: The hole spacing in both the base and the dividers must be uniform to work correctly, so everything is based on an indexing block like the one in Fig. 1. This block is used both as a drill guide for the dividers, and to set up the grid pattern in the base. Cut a shallow dado in the bottom of a hardwood block to fit closely over the edge of the dividers. Set up the drill press to carefully center two holes in the dado 1-1/4-inch apart and drill through the block using the same 1/8-inch drill bit you'll use to drill the parts. The second hole is for an indexing pin to locate the block when drilling each subsequent hole. Anything that fits the hole snugly--such as a nail or transfer punch--can be used as an index pin, but I just used a second 1/8-inch drill bit since it fits the hole perfectly. To drill the dividers, hold the stock bottom-up in a drill press vise or clamp it in a vertical drilling jig, set the indexing block onto the divider near one edge, and drill the first two holes through the block to a depth of 3/4-inch. Now move the block over and set your index pin through the block and into the last hole in the divider (Fig. 2). use the other hole in the block to guide the drill bit. Keep indexing the block and drilling 3/4-inch deep holes into the divider until the entire edge is done. Make as many dividers as you think you'll need (Fig. 3).

    Download the Plan: For the rest of Ralph's detailed instructions. Be sure to download the detailed PDF plan from the link at the top of this post.



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