Drawer dividers can be helpful if you are struggling with having enough storage space in your home. To make the most of your storage space, it needs to be both organized and convenient. Making a drawer divider is a simple way to accomplish both aims. Drawer dividers can be either the type used to make separate compartments, or to add a compartmentalized liftable tray to a deep drawer.
If you are just using a big or deep drawer to put a few big items in, then you are probably fine as is. However, most people keep throwing in little things as well, and over time, digging through all those accumulated little items takes up more and more time to find what you need. So that is why a divider can be helpful. To make sure it stays helpful over a long period of time as your storage needs change, it is recommended to install adjustable dividers that can be rearranged to suit the items being stored.
Adjustable Drawer Dividers
To create adjustable dividers, the first step is to measure the front and back ends of the drawer on the inside faces. Take down the width and height, then subtract about an inch from the height. You will be cutting two pieces of ½ inch thick plywood that will fit against the front and back of the drawer. Mark off the pieces on your sheet of plywood and use a hand saw or table saw to cut them. These are the End Inserts.
Next you will cut a series of grooves in the end inserts. The grooves need to run from top to bottom of the drawer. Make the grooves an eighth of an inch wide, and a quarter inch deep. You can make them spaced about an inch apart or so, depending on how much adjustability you want. It is important that the grooves be at the same distance from each other in both end inserts, so that the dividers will fit in to be parallel to the sides of the drawer.
To cut the grooves in the end inserts so that they match, use a table saw or router and lay the end inserts side by side. For a router, use a straight bit with a 1/8 inch diameter, and for a table saw, use a blade that can make a 1/8 inch wide cut.
If you don’t have access to a woodworking router or table saw, an alternate way to make the grooves is by adding pairs of thin furring strips of plywood, each spaced so as to create a 1/8 inch gap between the two. Attach the strips using construction glue or similar adhesive type such as Liquid Nails. It is a bit trickier to achieve the matched location of grooves on either end insert with this method. Lay the two end pieces on your workbench so that the long sides are against one another, then mark off with a pencil or scribe the centers of the grooves on both pieces in one stroke to insure they match. You can use c-clamps to hold the strips in place temporarily to check alignment.
The end inserts, once created, are glued to the inside faces of the back and front of the drawer. If you have made grooves that are not spaced equally, make sure the end inserts are oriented properly by sliding in the dividers being final gluing.
Your drawer dividers should be made from 1/8 inch hardboard. They should be cut at a length that makes a snug fit, but does not touch the ends of the grooves so tightly that they are hard to push in. Make the height the same as the end inserts. The whole idea, of course, is to make them easily removable, so they will not be glued in.
Lift Out Trays
For drawers that are deeper, creating a second layer of storage is a good option. Bottom drawers on a desk or in the kitchen are often deep enough for a lift out tray. To start with, you will need to install support strips around the inside of the drawer on which the tray will sit. These can simply be lengths of ½ inch plywood which are half the height of the drawer. One piece should be glued to each side of the drawer interior; clamp them in place while the glue dries.
The tray itself should be made on a base of smooth finished hardboard, cut to dimensions 1/8 inch smaller than the inside width and length of the drawer. If you have a drawer where you have stored items you need quick access to, consider making your tray sized only half the length of the drawer; this will leave open the other half to easily reach into. You will also be able to slide such a tray back and forth as needed.
The sides are of the tray are four pieces of ½ inch plywood with butt joints at the corners. The end pieces of the sides will be the full width of the base, while the sides will be 1 inch shorter, having to fit between the ends and butt against them. After you cut the base and side pieces, fit them in the drawer to make sure they fit before assembling them. Also before assembly, if you want to add horizontal dividers to the tray, then cut grooves in the end pieces, using the methods discussed above. In addition, drill a one inch diameter hole in each end piece, to allow a finger hole for lifting the tray up out of the drawer.
To assemble the lift out tray, pre-drill nail holes in the ends of the side pieces, this will prevent the plywood from splitting. Nail the side pieces together into a square. Finally, nail the base to the side frame with small finishing nails.
Photo by Sh4rP_i, Creative Commons Attribution