How to Make Wooden Drawer Dividers
Wooden drawer dividers are a sophisticated solution for disorganized drawers of all kinds. Most often associated with kitchen drawers, wooden dividers are a great way to keep cooking tools and cutlery in their places, helping to cut down on clutter, and improve your kitchen both functionally and aesthetically. While prefabricated drawer dividers are widely available, everyone has different storage needs—the more customization, the better.
With our easy-to-DIY wooden drawer dividers, you can craft tailor-made dividers that are custom fitted for each drawer in your kitchen without spending your whole weekend laboring in the woodshop. Best of all, these dividers require no fancy joinery or permanent mounting and can be customized for years to come, so you’re not stuck with whatever layout you choose on day one.
Before You Begin
The drawer dividers will consist of a front and back board made from 1/2-inch-thick poplar and thin dividers made from 1/4-inch-thick poplar. Before setting out to buy materials, there are a couple of measurements you need to get from your drawers.
First, measure the drawer depth on the drawers you plan to add dividers to. This will determine how wide the boards that you purchase will need to be. Some drawers may require you to purchase a wider board and rip the width to fit using a table saw. Additionally, measure the length and width of your drawers to determine how long your materials should be. Most kitchen drawers are less than 20 inches from front to back, so a 4-foot board will yield two dividers.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Measuring tape
- Miter saw
- Table saw (optional)
- 1/4" straight cut router bit
- Trigger clamps
- 120- and 220-grit sanding blocks
- 4 1/4" x 3" x 48" poplar boards
- 2 1/2" x 3" x 36" poplar boards
- Mineral oil
- Scrap board
How to Make Wooden Drawer Dividers
Follow the steps below to build your wooden drawer dividers. Note that the materials listed above are meant to serve as a guide and the dimensions and quantities may need to be adjusted to fit your drawers and specific needs.
Cut Front and Back Boards
Cut two 1/2-inch-thick poplar boards to the exact length of your drawer (side-to-side measurement).
On one side of each 1/2-inch board, cut vertical 1/4-inch dados every 2 inches. To do this, lay both boards flat on a work surface with the long sides pressed together tightly.
Install a 1/4-inch straight cut bit in your router set to a cutting depth of 1/4 inch, then measure the distance between the edge of the bit and the edge of the router base. Clamp a straight board across the two 1/2-inch boards using the distance of your router base for spacing.
Cut the first dado across the two boards, using the clamped board to ride against the router base. For the next dado, move the clamped board 2 inches further down the 1/2-inch boards and make another pass. Continue until there is a dado every two inches.
What Is a Dado?
A dado is a three-sided groove cut into the face of material that's most often used for wood joinery.
Place the boards into the front and back of the drawer with the dados facing out. Make sure the dados are perfectly aligned on each side. If not, flip one of the boards over. The boards won't stay in place until the dividers are in place, so use trigger clamps to hold in place for the time being. Remove the drawer if necessary.
Measure for Dividers
Use a measuring tape to get a precise measurement from the inside of one dado to the inside of the opposite dado. Use this measurement to cut your dividers to length.
Cut and Place Dividers
Cut the 1/4-inch-thick poplar to the measurement found before. Cut as many dividers as you want. Slide the dividers into the dados to ensure fitment.
Sand All Boards
Remove all boards and sand until smooth using 120-grit sandpaper, then following up with 220-grit sandpaper. Make sure all splinters left from cutting are removed.
Finish the boards with a coat of mineral oil, then wipe off the excess. Install in whatever layout serves you best.
Mineral oil is immediately food safe once applied and leaves a clear finish that protects against moisture, making it ideal for this application. If you choose to add any other wood finish, consult the manufacturer's instructions for food safety and proper application practices.
How to Add Perpendicular Dividers
To further divide the drawer and create slots for small kitchen tools such as measuring spoons and corkscrews, you may consider adding dividers that further divide each slot by running side to side. To do this, rout 1/8-inch dados into the dividers following the same method used to rout the original dados. Then simply cut 1/4-inch dividers to length to span the space between the 1/8-inch dados.
How to Maintain Your Wooden Drawer Dividers
To keep your handmade wooden drawer dividers in top shape for years of use, wipe them clean occasionally and coat them with mineral oil. Then, simply wipe off the excess mineral oil and slide them back into place.