As I mentioned in my bedroom drawer divider post, spring means an attack on chaos at Hawk Hill and the kitchen did not escape my organizational wrath this year. Like most 1920’s homes, my kitchen is cute but tiny. The kitchen has only 4 drawers total! These drawers, as you can imagine, quickly become a jumbled mess that off-the-shelf drawer dividers are never tough enough or large enough to handle.
While construction grade foam board worked great for dividers for the bedroom dresser drawers, these high-traffic drawers needed tougher, thinner dividers to maximize storage space and tolerate shifting cutlery each time the drawer opened and closed. Thin pine craft boards from the lumber yard worked perfect! 3/8 thick by 3 inches wide was the perfect thickness and width for my shallow kitchen drawers.
At about $1 per foot, this wood wasn’t cheap. To make sure I cut my boards right the first try and didn’t waste this expensive wood, before even buying the wood I cleaned out my drawers completely and used strips of corrugated cardboard to design and play around with options for dividers. When I’d created the perfect arrangement, I hot glued my cardboard strips together and took measurements.
I created my dividers’ joints in two ways: fitting together boards by notching them (done with several parallel cuts with a miter saw) and T-type joints that were glued and nailed with small finishing nails. (Update 2016: this project has help up well, although the glued and nailed T joints have needed repaired once. The notched boards have worked well maintenance free)
The notched boards were eazy to zip through with my miter saw- Although that type of saw left some rough, angled edges at the end of the cut, the edges are completely concealed when assembled:
If you don’t have a piece spanning the full width and full depth, be sure and place pieces to make up that difference- this will prevent the divider from shifting within your drawer:
Joints that are joined as a T rather than two interlocking boards will need to be glued AND nailed with a small nail:
With the help of pre-planning with cardboard strips, this project took less than an hour- not counting a new application of contact paper and time spent waiting for glue to dry. I’m thrilled with having better looking, better functioning drawer dividers!
I’m really pleased with the final result- and actually pretty impressed by how easy it was to create professional-looking DIY wood kitchen drawer dividers on a budget. – And a new liner of houndstooth contact paper didn’t hurt a bit, either!
Making heavy-duty drawer dividers
I chose wood for my drawer dividers after finding that the premade plastic cut-to-size drawer dividers just weren’t tough enough for my kitchen drawers. See, the problem is I like really nice flatware. Straight out of college, I filled my kitchen with typical inexpensive stamped flatware that manufactures make cheaply from stamped and shaped steel. These lightweight spoons and forks fit compactly in a drawer and a fairly lightweight, but have you ever noticed how much more satisfying it is to eat with silverware that has a nice heft to it? I did, and so the plain but heavy Oneida flatware shown above went on my Christmas shopping list one year. Using heavier flatware has proven to be so much more durable as well – and three or four moves later (and two separate downsizings as I transitioned from a regular home to tiny living to digital nomad travel and back to typical housing!) This flatware still my favorite and gets partitioned into a drawer divider in every kitchen I move into.
How to make extra deep kitchen drawer dividers
the beauty of these custom wood DIY drawer dividers is that they are almost infinitely customizable. By choosing finishing lumber or trim in different dimensions, you can create shallow, deep, or extra-extra deep dividers for your kitchen drawers. Making very deep dividers can be a great way to keep utensil drawers organized, as deeper dividers contain even the most boisterous of tongs, spatulas, and spoons.
Cardboard kitchen drawer dividers
Because I did my first drawer dividers with cardboard to develop a divider style that worked well for me and my flatware, I get questions from time to time about using cardboard to make DIY kitchen drawer dividers. You can definitely use the instructions above to give it a go. Follow the first two steps of this tutorial to create a cardboard version of these drawer dividers. The problem is, unless your flatware is mostly plastic or very lightweight metal, you’ll find that the cardboard is simply don’t hold up. Every time a drawer is opened or closed, the silverware and utensils are thrown up against the partitions. This wear and tear tends to wear out dividers pretty quickly. If you try this with cardboard, you’ll probably want to use double or triple corrugated cardboard and perhaps add a layer of contact paper to help the paper stay a little more durable.
Using this technique for my bedroom dresser
After realizing how simple these drawer dividers were to make, I actually purchased more board boards and used the same process to create neat dividers for the top drawer of my dresser, where I store my handkerchiefs:
Love this tutorial but need drawer dividers for clothes or underwear? Check out my tutorial for dresser drawer dividers:
Lindsayanne is a professional artist, writer, and serial-DIY-er with a knack for solving problems creatively at home, in the studio, out in the garden, and even online. Learn more about Lindsay, her training, and her background here.