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    Build a Simple Silverware Organizer





    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    If your silverware drawer looks anything like mine, chances are you’ve considered building your own organizer. Sure, you can buy a cheesy plastic organizer like the one seen in the photograph, but where’s the fun in that? My version, built from cherry that matches the existing finish on my cabinets, was constructed using simple miter joints for the case and dadoes that house dividers which slide right into place. For added strength and stability, I chose to glue in a 1/4-in. plywood bottom. Miter joints alone just won’t cut it, but the addition of that glued in panel will keep this piece together for years to come.

    Read Part II of Build a Simple Silverware Organizer


    Measure Your Drawer for a Custom Fit
    Although I’ve provided some basic measurements in this post, you’ll need to measure your cabinet drawer’s interior for a precise fit, so don’t build an exact replica of my organizer until you’ve evaluated your drawer size, as well as how many individual storage compartments you desire for your own project.


    A Note on Pre-Finishing
    When it came to finishing my organizer, I chose to apply a light coat of shellac, followed by two coats of boiled linseed oil. You can certainly do this after all the assembly is complete, but consider applying at least the shellac while the parts are still disassembled. It’s a lot easier to apply finish to components laid flat atop your workbench. Just be sure to avoid finishing joints that will later be glued together.

     

    Other Helpful Techniques for this Project


    Build a Beautiful Recipe Box with Mitered Corners

    This earlier post contains useful information on using clear packing tape as a clamp when gluing up mitered boxes.

    Accurate Cuts on Long Workpieces
    Learn how to build and use a "hook stop" like the one seen in this project post.
     


    How to Make

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thickness: I began by milling 4 pieces of cherry down to 5/16-in. thick. These will make up the outer case of the organizer. While I was at the planer, I also milled up some 1/4-in. stock as well. Those pieces will be used later on the project, to construct the individual dividers that slide into dadoes cut into the case sides.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    Rip the Case Sides to Width: Next, I ripped the four case sides down to a width of 2-1/4-in. For thin, narrow stock like this, I like to use a featherboard on my tablesaw. The featherboard helps keep this thin stock aligned with the blade as it's pushed through the cut, making for a cleaner, safer operation.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    A Groove Holds the Bottom in Place: Now use a rip blade to cut the groove which will accept your organizer’s bottom. I’m using 1/4-in. plywood for this. I begin by making the first cut about 3/8-in. up from the bottom edge of my case sides, and then re-adjust my tablesaw’s rip fence to widen the groove just enough to accept the plywood bottom. Once again, using scraps to dial in the rip fence setting before making your final cuts is key to this operation. Also note that I’m careful to use a rip blade with a flat bottomed cut.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    Set Up for Solid Miters - Step 1: Next, I set my tablesaw up to cut the miters on the ends of each workpiece. Be sure to make test cuts using scraps and check the accuracy of those 45-degree cuts before proceeding on to your final cuts. Here I’m checking the accuracy of a cut using the angled fence on my combination square

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    Set Up for Solid Miters - Part 2: Just to be double-sure, I like to take the test piece I just mitered and bring the two separated halves together. If they form a perfect 90-degree corner, I know I've got an accurate miter.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    Cut the Miter on One End of Each Piece: Now miter one end of each piece. This procedure is akin to "squaring up an end" before measuring for final length, setting up a stop block, and then cutting a piece to it's final dimension.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    Cut the Bottom: With one end mitered, you can set up a stop block to cut the 4 case sides. In this case, I'm using a "hook stop." This is a great trick for situations where your workpieces are longer than the fence on your crosscut sled. Be sure to check out the other links in this post for more information on this technique. For my organizer, I cut two front/back pieces at 23-in. as well as two side pieces at 16-in. Of course, the dimensions of your particular drawers will vary.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    Time for a Dry-Fit: Don't forget to cut the bottom. I cut mine from a sheet of high quality 1/4-in. veneered plywood.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    X Marks the Spot: With the joinery cut and the bottom ready, it's time for a dry-fit. Now is the time to mark up your sides for the dadoes which will hold each individual divider. In my case, I marked out for enough dadoes to accommodate 5 sections for various types of silverware, as well as two larger "catch-all" bins.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    A Sanding Block Makes a World of Difference: I find it useful to denote the material I'm going to be removing with a series of "X's." This technique has saved me from making incorrect cuts on more than one occasion! With all the dadoes marked out, you can head to the tablesaw and cut out the waste. The depth of my dadoes was equal to half the thickness of my5/16-in. case sides. I cut them out using a specialty box joint blade that makes a 1/4-in. wide cut in a single pass, but you could make these cuts in multiple passes using a flat topped rip blade as well.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    Pre-Finishing Saves Time: Wrap your sandpaper around a sanding block for a smoother, flatter finish. I sanded all my components up through 320-grit.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    Packing Tape and Glue: I chose to apply a sealer coat of shellac before glue-up. It's a lot easier to apply finish to components ahead of glue-up. You don't have to deal with persky inside corners and can lay each component down flat for easier finishing.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    Fold Your Project Together: I used an old trick from box-maker Doug Stowe, who likes to use packing tape to clamp mitered boxes together. In this case, I laid out all four sides end-to-end, with the miters facing down. Next, I taped each joint together using clear packing tape before flipping the entire assembly over and applying glue to my joinery. Don't forget to add a bead inside the groove that will house the plywood bottom.

    Mill the Case Sides to Final Thicknessclick to enlarge

    Now inser the bottom into the groove in one of the long sides, and fold up the remaining three case sides. Have a piece of clear packing tape on hand to clamp up the final joint, as seen here. For more information on this technique, be sure to check out the links to related content in this post.



    Ed_Pirnik