DIY Drawer Inserts

Collage drawer 1

Messy drawers. It’s something that we all struggle with. And no, I’m not talking about the kind that cover your bottom half. I am always in a constant battle with my  kitchen drawers, bathroom drawers, even the everpresent “junk drawer”… I mean, why do we even have a drawer specifically to hold “junk”? 

We have an Ikea kitchen, and even though they have their own drawer organizing system, our kitchen has been discontinued so these organizers aren’t for sale anymore. After tireless searching, everything from eBay to The Container Store to Amazon, I decided no one could solve my problem. Not for a reasonable price, at least. So, I took my fate into my own hands. Well, my hands and Mr. Eats’ hands anyway.

aaron saw

After I realized how easy it was, I felt like I had to share it with you. I mean, who doesn’t want their own personalized drawer inserts? Do you have a giant oversized spatula? No problem. 100 tiny knick knacks? Fear not, you will design and create your own inserts according to your individual needs. The best part? They’re completely removable! No commitment required.

If you have a regular kitchen, with drawers that have straight edges and 90-degree angles, you’ll be able to complete this without any issues at all! If you have an Ikea kitchen, you may run into a slight snag. You see, the Ikea drawers have curved edges… and are slightly smaller at the bottom than at the top. So, some finagling was required.

First things first, measure your drawers, you need three measurements: width, depth and height. From there, imagine your perfect drawer. How are your items arranged inside this perfect, beautifully-organized drawer? I did things like measuring the largest item I was going to put into each compartment and went from there.

drawer 1

I sketched out the inside of each drawer, accounting for the 1/4-inch I would lose from each board I added to the drawer. (You can see my beautiful sketches on the counter above my drawer). I then numbered each piece of wood on my sketch so I could measure the wood once I got it and number the pieces. Then it becomes basically just an assemble-by-number puzzle (a pretty easy one, at that).

I used Hobby Boards, which you can find at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot. They’re 1/4-inch thick, so you’ll want to account for those in your measurements. They come in various sizes, but the best for my needs here was the 1/4-inch by 2-inch, by 48-inches.

Once I tallied how many I needed to buy (about 2 to 3 per drawer depending on the drawer I was making), I purchased them (less than $3 per board at our store) and some clear silicone caulk as glue, and brought them home. If you don’t have any sandpaper, grab a fine-grit sandpaper as well to soften the edges of your board. You can also stain the boards if you wish, I didn’t.

Once I got home, I marked my boards with pencil. I used one at the top and bottom of each drawer, and one for each compartment. They will be sturdier if you add ones for the sides too, but I didn’t want to lose the 1/2-inch of space so I left mine off.

After starting with our silverware drawer, we have since expanded this to all of our utensil drawers and I can’t believe I ever lived without them.

drawer during

How to Make Your Inserts

What you need:

  • Hobby Boards – The exact number and size of boards depends on your own needs
  • Clear silicone caulk – Similar to this
  • Q-tips or wooden spatula – to wipe off excess caulk
  • Fine grit sand paper – to sand the cut edges
  • Measuring tape & Pencil
  • Newspaper or other extra scraps of paper you have laying around
  • Miter saw (or hand saw, or just ask the nice gentlemen at the lumber store to do it for you!)

Measure your drawers and plan the layout you want them to have. You’ll want equal pieces for the top and bottom (the top part is optional, but will make the insert sturdier, obviously). Then longer pieces for the vertical lengths, and dividers to go in between the vertical pieces to section them off.

I wish I had taken a picture of my actual sketches, but I suck at life, so below you will see my dramatic re-enactment.


Sketch this layout onto a piece of paper, accounting for the 1/4-inch thickness of each piece of hobby wood you are using. Number each length of wood on your paper (mark these same numbers onto your wood pieces). My particular drawer was cut as noted below:

  •  3 pieces (A, B, C) cut at 2 inches to use as “dividers”
  • 1 piece (D) cut at 1.5 inches (also a divider) – I wanted to have a full-length spot for larger knives on the far right.
  • 2 end pieces (E, F) cut at 11.5 inches (the width of the drawer) then angled to allow to fit with the curved bottom of our Akurum drawer. *If your drawers are normal, you don’t need to worry about this part because your boards can be straight-edged.
  • The bottom of the drawer was about 1.5 inches shorter than the top. What I did was:
    • Measure the full length (11.5 inches) then the bottom length (10 inches), divided by two (.75 inches on each side).
    • About 1 inch down the side of the piece I drew a line from the side to my .75″ mark and used that to guide the angle. I specifically tried to remember this angle and failed (I think it was 11 degrees? Maybe 18? I think 11.). Either way, once you have the angle you can leave your saw at that angle and cut all of your angled pieces with that same degree measure.
  • If desired, cut additional pieces for the outside edges (left and right) – this will make your drawer inserts sturdier but I opted to skip this step.

Using a pencil, measure the pieces of wood to match your plans, numbering the pieces of wood accordingly.

Cut the wood (or have a handy helper cut it for you) according to your measurements. Sand the edges that were cut to get rid of any splinters. If you don’t have a saw or a willing helper, just ask one of the employees at your neighborhood lumber store.

If you’re going to stain or treat your wood, now would be the time. Be sure to allow plenty of drying time.

Empty your drawer and line the bottom with newspaper. Place your wood pieces into the drawer in their positions. Glue them together using a generous amount of the caulk, wiping excess caulk with a Q-tip to remove it. It’s OK if you have to move it a tiny bit, just be sure to re-caulk the seams if you do.


I let mine dry with the drawer open for about an hour, then closed the drawer and let it continue to dry for another hour. I probably could have let it dry longer, but I’m impatient. After that you can remove the paper lining and add your silverware. Simple as that!


4 thoughts on “DIY Drawer Inserts

  1. i remember how impressed i was with your (collective) skills when you made these dividers; such a good idea! Mr. Table gets very frustrated with me for our drawers – especially the “sharp knife” one, which…well let’s just say that mr. table has almost lost a finger or two thanks to my lack of organization.

    Since we’re moving in a month, i’m not going to worry about these drawers. However! I totally forgot to see whats going on in our new drawers, and if there are no dividers? TOTALLY making these. May as well start our new home off on the right foot, and Mr. Table doesn’t need to live in fear of our knife drawer anymore.

    • You definitely should – every time we open our drawers we are excited at how much better they are now ^_^

      For our sharp knives we have this (or something like it) – it works well. The steak knives can go in the upper area and larger chef’s knives in the lower area – If you like, I can confer with Mr. Eats to see which one we actually have.

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