One thing that has always bothered me in every single rental I’ve lived in is the lack of drawer organization. Besides a small plastic utensil holder (top left) most of my drawer contents have been left to fend for themselves in whatever space they inhabited regardless of any attempt I made to restore order.

No more, I say!

There are probably a million different DIY solutions for this, ranging from cardboard taped together to wood pieces notched together with the help of a jigsaw and painted to match the cupboards. I wanted something in the middle – more permanent than cardboard but not as time intensive.

Step 1: Planning

The first thing I did is decide which drawers I wanted to organize and then I emptied their contents and used strips of paper to map out where my barriers would be.

Barriers marked out based on actual drawer contents.

Then I took pieces of notebook paper and created sketches of each drawer measuring out how long each piece of wood would need to be. Make sure to take into consideration the thickness of wood when marking measurements.

Diagrams marking measurements and what would go where for each drawer.

Initially I was only going to do my junk drawer and Joe’s bar tools drawer, but then I took a look at my small and large utensil drawers and figured they could also use some help (And I’d be able to get rid of that white plastic utensil holder).

Step 2: Shopping

Over Thanksgiving we were back in Ohio and took advantage of my dad’s expertise – and his workshop – for a few projects. During our trip to Lowe’s I quickly calculated about how much wood I would need total, and we loaded up on a few boards of 2 1/2-inch wide, 1/4-inch thick wood.

Step 3: Prepping the Wood

Once in the workshop, for each drawer I made a list of measurements, then handed the wood off to Joe to cut them down on the circular saw. Make sure when you cut these up you mark the size on each board with a pencil, so they are easy to find later.

Man with a saw.

If you don’t have access to a saw, you can probably convince someone at Lowe’s, Home Depot or your local lumber yard to cut these down for you.


After you’ve made your cuts, go through each piece and sand down the edges and any rough patches. You can use regular sand paper for this. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have access to a power sander, like me, go for it!

Power sanding

Step 4: Glue

Here comes the fun, and messy, part. Get yourself a bottle of wood glue. My dad (and now I) recommends Titebond.

Titebond Wood Glue ready for action

You’ll need a safe surface for gluing (I used cardboard), a pencil to mark lines where pieces need to be glued at, an old rag to wipe off extra glue, and I found having a small ruler, or some sort of flat surface, was helpful to align some edges.

Now, get to business! When you apply the glue, it’s helpful to add more than you think you need – a thick line of it – and then press and hold the pieces together tight for 30-60 seconds. Then wipe off the extra glue.

At this point your pieces should hold together but be gentle with them when moving them around.

Step 5: The Vice

To make sure your organizers stay glued together forever, you’ll want to hold them tightly together overnight. I created a makeshift vice by putting one edge of the organizer against a wall and then putting a heavy book on the other side, pressing it against the wall to hold the pieces together.

My makeshift vice

Step 6: Organize Those Drawers!

Now comes the best part! Empty your drawers, use a damp rag to wipe them out, then place your organizers inside. You can use the Titebond here also to glue the pieces to the sides of the drawer if they are a little loose.

Once your organizers are in, place the drawers contents into their new homes and never have to worry about fishing for a utensil again!

The Bar Tools Drawer

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