I don’t know about you, but every time I go to organize a drawer, I get things all in place and then buy something a month later that no longer fits in my drawer dividers.
We decided to clean up a messy drawer and combat this potential issue in the future by making a DIY drawer organizer with adjustable dividers.
You can decide how adjustable you want it to be. Super adjustable from the get-go, or you can make it for a particular drawer layout now and then add more slots to adjust to your needs in the future.
Alright, let’s start DIYing!
- Miter Saw
New to DIY? Check out our post on beginner woodworking tools to determine which tools to get!
What You’ll Need:
- ¼x3x4 boards (we used poplar and needed 4 for our drawers organizer that was approximately 24.75” wide and 18” deep)
- ¼” dowels (we used 10 poplar dowels on ours)
- Gorilla super glue gel
- Spray polycrylic (we used the matte finish)
How to Make a Drawer Organizer with Adjustable Dividers
STEP 1: MEASURE YOUR DRAWER
Measure both the depth and width of your drawer. Since our drawers are not full-extension, I had to make my dividers less deep than the full drawer so that I could insert the organizer once assembled without having to remove the drawer entirely.
Decide on your overall width and depth. Cut two pieces that are the same as your desired width. These will be the front and back pieces.
Then cut two pieces that are ½” shorter than your desired depth.
Note: we used boards that were 2.5” tall for our organizer and dividers. Our drawers are very shallow. You might find that ¼ x 4 or taller boards work better for your drawers.
STEP 2: CUT DOWELS
The number of dowels you need to cut will depend on just how adjustable you want to make the dividers. We cut 10 dowels to line the entire front and back pieces of the drawer organizer for maximum flexibility. This also gave us enough to add a few extra dividers
Before cutting your dowels, tape them together. Try to line the ends up as much as you can and then tape them every 2-3”. As you’re taping, make sure that the dowels are flat and pressed against each other.
Trim off the ends so that they are flush and then set a stop to be the same length as the height of your drawer dividers. If using the suggested ¼” x 3 boards, that’ll be 2.5”.
To secure my stop, I hot glued a piece of scrap wood to the miter saw. That’s just my preferred method, but you can use whatever method you like best! And don’t worry, the hot glue pops right off!
Cut your dowels down to size.
STEP 3: GLUE DOWELS TO FRONT/BACK PIECES
If you want your dividers to run from side to side instead of front to back, you can do these same steps on the sides instead of the front and back pieces.
Since this is an ultra-customizable divider, if you want to, you could run the dowels along 3 of your 4 frame pieces for maximum versatility.
To attach the dowels, place a ¼” piece on the edge of the piece you’re gluing on to act as a spacer. Then place a small bead of glue on the dowel and place it next to the ¼” piece of wood. Line the dowel up with the top and bottom of the piece you’re gluing on and hold for 10-15 seconds.
Grab your next dowel and add a bead of glue. Place a ¼” piece of wood next to the piece you just attached and place your dowel close to the spacer. Leave a little bit of a gap so that the ¼” piece of wood can comfortably slide in and out.
Note: the glue takes more than 15 seconds to dry, so try not to put any pressure on the dowels or they might shift slightly. If they do shift, return them back to place and hold them there for 10-15 seconds. If needed, add more glue.
Once you get the dowels on the first piece, grab the other piece that’s the same size. Repeat the process.
When installing the dowels on the second piece, we lined it up with the edge of the first piece and used that as a guide to keep the spacing consistent between the two pieces.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE DRAWER ORGANIZER
Once all the dowels are glued on and dried, it’s time to assemble the outside frame of the drawer organizer.
If you have some clamps that span the depth of the organizer, those will come in handy. If not, you’ll just need to act as the clamp and glue one side at a time.
Glue the ends of the side pieces and slide them between the front and back pieces. They should be flush with the ends of the front/back pieces and pushed up against the first dowel.
Clamp in place or hold in place. Once clamped, measure from corner to corner to make sure it’s square. If not, adjust the clamps and the position of your boards until it’s square.
We kept ours clamped for 30 minutes before moving onto the next step.
Pro-tip: place a small piece of parchment paper underneath the corners that you’re gluing. If glue drips out, the parchment paper will prevent it from getting stuck to the table or floor.
STEP 5: CUT THE DRAWER DIVIDERS
We cut 4 drawer dividers to be ⅛” smaller than the length of our side pieces. These will span the entire depth of the drawer.
Once we had those, we brought everything inside of starting laying out the drawer organization.
I decided to flip one of the 4 drawer dividers 90 degrees so that it is horizontal. You can customize any way you wish, but I wanted this particular piece to be versatile and be able to flip directions if needed.
I then marked with tape the approximate locations of where I wanted to add extra dowels and dividers.
Again, you can make this as custom as you want, so feel free to add more dowels to a single divider for maximum versatility.
For now, I just added the additional dowels just where there were needed for this particular layout. I can always add more dividers and dowels later if needed. It’s just some superglue away!
Once you have everything marked with tape, you’ll be able to measure how long your extra dividers need to be and where to place additional dowels.
When cutting the dividers, make sure to make them slightly smaller (~⅛”) than the actual length of the area they are dividing. This will allow you to slide them in and out easier.
When installing the extra dowels on the sides and dividers, no need to measure. Use the tape placement you determined earlier to place the first side. For the second side, slide the divider to the edge and line it up with the other piece that needs dowels. Mark the placement and glue them in place.
STEP 6: PROTECT WITH POLYCRYLIC
Up to you on if you want to do this step. Honestly, I don’t think it’s that necessary, but if you want your drawer dividers to be protected better in case something spills on them or tries to scratch them, you can seal them with 3 or more coats of Polycrylic.
We used the aerosol version in matte because we already had some on hand. Honestly, I’d recommend a semi-gloss or gloss finish for more protection and to make it easier to wipe off if needed.
If you do proceed with this step, give your drawer dividers ample time to dry. If you put them in the drawer too soon, it might make your things smell like Polycrylic.
STEP 7: INSTALL THE DRAWER ORGANIZER
Place your new drawer organizer in the drawer and then add your dividers. We even placed one of the dividers at an angle. Talk about getting a custom drawer organizer!
There you have it! Now you know how to make a DIY drawer organizer with moveable drawer dividers.
If you’re in the mood to tackle all sorts of kitchen organization, keep reading the following tutorials: