Maximize Your Drawer Space

Eight simple projects for better storage and less clutter.

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Try these eight simple projects for better storage and less clutter.

Tools Required

  • Table saw
  • Jig Saw
  • Miter saw
  • Drill/driver
  • oscillating multitool
  • random orbital sander

Materials Required

  • 1 qt. polyurethane (optional)
  • 1/2 in. plywood
  • 1/4 in. plywood
  • Assorted fasteners
  • Assorted hardwood
  • Ball bearing drawer slides
  • Power strip
  • Wood glue

Every kitchen could use a little more organization, and these drawer projects deliver a lot! Easily accessible pots and pans, a charging drawer and much more. The projects are also easy to build using butt joints, glue, and nails or screws.

I built all but the knife rack from Baltic birch plywood. It has attractive raw edges that don’t need edge banding. Or you could use standard plywood or solid wood and apply wipe-on poly for a clean, high-end look!

Project step-by-step (8)

Step 1

Custom Silverware Tray

Store-bought silverware trays never fit the drawer perfectly. They shift and slide around and leave awkward space around the tray. Custom-fit partitions maximize the kitchen storage space and eliminate the annoying sliding.

Silverware drawer Fh21mar 608 51 102 CustomsilverwareFamily Handyman

Start with the main dividers 

I sectioned this big drawer using a T-shaped divider made from 1/2-in. plywood. I screwed it into place through one side and the back. If I ever want to change the configuration, it’s be easy to do. Because these drawers are melamine, I sanded and finished all the parts of this kitchen drawer organizer before adding them to the drawer.

Build drawer dividers Fh21mar 608 51 002Family Handyman

Add the partitions 

Divide the large sections using 1/4-in. partitions, just as in the drawer in a drawer. Here, however, since the parts are prefinished, I attached the spacers with countersunk 1/2-in. wood screws instead of glue.

Building drawer dividers Fh21mar 608 51 011Family Handyman

Step 2

Hidden Knife Rack 

A knife block takes up valuable countertop space. This simple insert puts all your cutlery inside a drawer in a safe, tidy, flat rack. My drawer is large enough to store all my sharpening supplies as well.

Hidden Knife Rack Fh21mar 608 51 102 KniferackFamily Handyman

Build the rack 

To make the blocks, glue up two layers of 3/4-in.-thick hardwood. A single thickness would set the knife handles too close together. Size the length and height of the blocks to fit your largest blade. When the glue dries, sand the blocks and glue them to a piece of 1/4-in. plywood sized to fit your drawer. 

Cut 1/8-in.-thick strips of wood to space the blocks while the glue dries. Pull out the spacers as soon as the glue starts to hold so they don’t get glued in place. A support strip under the handles makes them easier to grab. I added two more 1/2-in. dividers to make compartments for other supplies. Learn how to make DIY drawer dividers.

Building a knife rack Fh21mar 608 51 001Family Handyman

Step 3

Drawer in a Drawer 

This sliding tray turns a deep drawer into two shallower drawers to make better use of the space. It looks complicated, but it’s pretty simple. The drawer still operates like usual. But when you open it, you can slide the inner drawer back into the cabinet to access the lower part of the drawer.

Drawer in a Drawer Fh21mar 608 51 111Family Handyman

Cut down the drawer back 

Decide how deep you want the inner drawer, then cut out a section of the drawer back to accommodate. I made the long cut with a jigsaw but used an oscillating multitool to make the end cuts flush with the sides. I knew I would hit nails, so I used a bimetal blade. Measure the opening to find the dimensions for the inner drawer, allowing room for drawer slides.

Cut drawer back Fh21mar 608 51 019Family Handyman

Build the inner drawer 

Cut the parts and assemble the front, back and sides. Glue and nail on a 1/4-in. plywood bottom, then add the interior partitions you want. I used 1/2-in. plywood for the main dividers and 1/4-in. plywood for the small partitions. Instead of cutting grooves for the small partitions, I cut and glued 1/4-in.-thick spacers to hold them in place.

Build the drawer Fh21mar 608 51 021Family Handyman

Attach the slides 

Fasten the slide components to the main drawer and the inner drawer. I used full-extension ball-bearing slides. Standard roller slides don’t work well for this project.

Attach the slides Fh21mar 608 51 025Family Handyman

Install the inner drawer 

With the main drawer still out of the cabinet, slide in the inner drawer. Place the whole assembly back into position in the cabinet.

Install the drawer Fh21mar 608 51 028Family Handyman

Step 4

Charging Drawer 

Here’s another way to remove clutter from the countertop. These power strips don’t require any electrical wiring; they just plug into an outlet. If your kitchen is up to code, it will have an outlet for your garbage disposal. All you need to do is route the cord to the outlet.

Charging drawer Fh21mar 608 51 100Family Handyman

Cut the opening 

Measure the power strip and mark the cutout on the back of the drawer. Drill a hole near each corner and use a jigsaw to cut the opening. Check the fit of the power strip, then use the jigsaw, a file or a sanding block to adjust the opening as needed.

Cut the opening Fh21mar 608 51 023Family Handyman

Install the power strip 

Insert the power strip into the hole and secure it with screws through the mounting holes. Use a zip tie or cable staple to attach the cord to the cabinet’s back, allowing two to three inches of slack. Route the cord to your disposal outlet by drilling through cabinet sides as needed.

Install the power strip Fh21mar 608 51 024Family Handyman

Step 5

Custom “Egg Crate” Compartments 

Egg crate compartments are perfect for storing plastic food containers and other stackable items. The partitions aren’t fastened to the drawer, so you can easily customize compartments for different containers. All you need is a way to cut slots.

I’ll show you an easy method using a table saw and a custom spacer. Determine the thickness of the spacer by subtracting the width of the saw’s kerf from the thickness of your material.

drawer compartments Fh21mar 608 51 109Family Handyman

First cut 

Use your containers to figure out the bin size, then lay out the slots on each partition. The first cut defines the left-hand side of the slot. Set the fence for the first cut and clamp a stop block to the fence so you cut only halfway through the partition’s height. Push the partition up to the block, then back it out.

Cut the pieces Fh21mar 608 51 003Family Handyman

Second cut 

Slip your spacer between the fence and the partition and make the second pass. This cut defines the right-hand side of the slot. If there’s waste left between the cuts, knock it out with a chisel or a utility knife.

Make the second cuts Fh21mar 608 51 008Family Handyman

Slip in the partitions 

After sanding and finishing, stand up the bottom partitions in the drawer with the slots facing up. Then add the top partitions, sliding them into the slots in the bottom partitions.

Insert the dividers Fh21mar 608 51 030Family Handyman

Step 6

Deep Drawer Slider

Deep drawers are ideal for large or tall items, but when filled with lots of smaller items they’re just a mess. Adding a horizontal sliding tray on rails neatly divides that depth into much more efficient space.

Deep drawer slider Fh21mar 608 51 107 DeepdrawersliderFamily Handyman

Build a tray and add rails 

Build a simple tray constructed like the inner drawer above. The tray can be whatever depth you want. The width, however, should be less than half the width of the drawer so you can easily access everything below.

Attach the front and back rails level with each other using screws, and set the tray on the rails. The partitions in the bottom of this drawer are optional. They’re just pieces of 1/2-in. plywood assembled with glue and 1-in. wood screws.

Build a tray and add rails  Fh21mar 608 51 031Family Handyman

Step 7

Adjustable Dividers

The most efficient way to store pots and pans is to stack them with the largest on the bottom. But it’s annoying and noisy to dig out the pan you need. Instead, install these adjustable dividers in a deep drawer to provide easy access.

Pot and pan divider Fh21mar 608 51 107 AdjustabledividerFamily Handyman

Create slots 

Cut strips to the width that best suits your drawer and pans; these are 1-1/2 in. wide. Sand, finish and attach the strips on opposite sides (front to back or side to side) inside the drawer. Use a piece of 1/4-in. plywood as a spacer between the strips, creating slots for 1/4-in. plywood partitions.

Create slots Fh21mar 608 51 013Family Handyman

Slip in the partitions 

Cut, sand and finish the partitions. Slide them into the slots created by the spaced strips to accommodate your pots, pans and lids.

Slide in the dividers Fh21mar 608 51 015Family Handyman

Step 8

Diagonal Dividers 

Diagonal partitions not only optimize drawer space but also allow the drawer to accommodate longer items.

Diagonal drawer dividers Fh21mar 608 51 112Family Handyman

Cut and install partitions 

Rip stock to match the drawer’s interior height, then mark the drawer where you’d like the partitions. Use the marks on the drawer to figure the partition lengths, then cut each partition with opposing 45-degree angles on their ends. Check their fit and screw them into place, starting with the short pieces, then the long. 

When you get to the last one, you’ll probably need a stubby screwdriver to get between the partitions. To make that installation easier, I installed one long piece, removed it and then installed the second long piece. This way, when I reinstalled the first piece, the holes were already threaded, making hand-driving the screws much easier. 

Cut and install partitions Fh21mar 608 51 018Family Handyman