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Hey folks: it seems to be that time of the month again (no, not THAT): it’s build challenge day!
You’ve seen me participate in these before (such as here and here… and oh yeah, here too) and probably have noticed a few other bloggers participating with the hashtag #OrganizeBuildChallenge on social media this morning. Doing one of these challenges is usually tough, but also a lot of fun — mainly because it always gets my butt in gear to complete something on my to-do list, but I have to constantly reassure myself that I’ve got the skills to put my project up next to the amazing showcase of DIY talent. As for my project? I went back into the kitchen for this one:
As I’ve gone through the process of remodeling the kitchen, I am now at the phase where I get to start putting everything back into place and making sure it works and flows for my needs. Part of that involves upgrading kitchenware, such as swapping out my mismatched plates, glasses with beer logos on them (way. too. many!), and bent silverware in favor of their “grown up” counterparts. Slowly, I’ve been editing each collection of “stuff” and donating things as I go — nixing the items I bought in one of those 50-piece sets where everything is cheap and melts or rusts in the dishwasher in favor of the items that cost a little more and make me feel like I’m a little better off than a bachelor’s first apartment after college — basically, what adulting is supposed to look like now that I’m in my 30s.
This drawer, along with the many other cabinets and drawer spaces throughout the kitchen, needed some refocus and tidying up. As I combed through the old set, I wanted to find a convenient way to feature my recent purchase of an entire set of matching silverware. It may not seem like that big of a milestone until you’ve seen the hodgepodge of crap I was using before!
I guess it’s one of those things that you just don’t notice on a daily basis, but keep in the back of your mind that it’s time to make the upgrade. I found this set during a Black Friday sale, and I love the simplicity of the design and the extra weight these have compared to my old set(s). There was just one little issue that bugged me: there were more types/sizes of silverware in this set than my old ones, and I ran out of spots for each one in the existing silverware organizer that I’ve been using.
It wasn’t a bad organizer by any means; it was clean and perfectly nice to look at, but also too small for the drawer. So, since this month’s theme was to organize something, now seemed like as good of a time as any to make a custom organizer and fully utilize the space inside the drawer:
Making a custom silverware drawer organizer is actually pretty easy: you just have to make sure you get the cuts precisely right, and have a few extra clamps on hand. If you want to make something similar, you’ll need (FYI, some o’ these are affiliate links):
- craft wood of your choice (I went with 1/2″ for the frame and larger dividing pieces and 3/8″ thickness for the dividers between each type of cutlery)
- wood glue
- clamps (24″ or longer is a good choice)
- nail gun & finishing nails (optional: you can still build the frame without this as long as you have extra clamps, but it will likely take a little longer since the finishing nails secure things while the glue dries)
- something to line the table you’re working on (I used leftover wrapping paper)
And the usual suspects:
- tape measure
- miter saw
To get started, I first lined the drawer with some drawer liner material I picked up at IKEA (already an improvement, since it looks bright and clean). I also removed the drawer from its placement in the kitchen so that I could take precise measurements without the stove getting in the way (the drawer doesn’t slide all the way out, so I’m looking into extending these as well with new sliders if possible).
To protect my work surface (the dining room table), I rolled out some leftover wrapping paper that had conveniently not found its way back into storage yet after the holidays. The first task would be to create the frame for the cutlery holder. While I could have just cut the divider pieces and then tried to glue those together by itself, the frame keeps things square and sturdy.
I was playing around with ideas for a while, but settled on dividing the silverware by its five major groupings (butter knives, small and large spoons, small and large forks), with a space at the back for lesser-used items (serving spoons and forks) and a longer channel on the left for miscellaneous items (can opener, etc.).
I doubt sharing measurements for this project is at all helpful because this was a custom fit to the specific drawer, but I figured that it made better utilization of the available wood to cut the longest pieces first and then cut the shorter ones (or as Ana White might say, look to create columns first before dividing it up more; you’ll have fewer cuts). For those that are wondering, the cuts for the dividers between each type of flatware were 10″, which is probably a good standard for most sets. I also wanted the dividers between the cutlery to be slightly narrower, so I used 1/2″x3″ for the frame and middle dividers and 3/8″x3″ for the ones between the spoons/forks/knives (there are multiple options for species of wood in the craft wood section of your local home improvement store; I went with pine because even though it’s a softer wood, it’s cheaper and was the only one my store had with a 3/8″ width option).
I first glued and nailed the outer frame to make sure it fit into the drawer before gluing any other pieces. Once the outer frame was done and dry, I then cut the rest of the pieces and dry fit them before any gluing took place (this is a good time to sand each piece as well; sanding once it’s all together makes it much harder to reach the corners). At first, I thought I’d measure the width of my existing cutlery organizer and use this as a guide for creating each flatware channel, but it wound up being close enough in width to the wood I was using, so I just put scrap pieces in between each divider to use as a temporary spacer until the glue dried.
Once you’re happy with the placement of each piece, start gluing. You’ll need clamps to help hold everything together until dry enough to move, which should take less than half an hour or so.
After the glue is fully cured, it’s time to protect it. I’ve seen some DIY tutorials that show the piece being painted once finished, but I wouldn’t really recommend this; your cutlery will bang and scrape along these dividers over time, and chipped paint isn’t really a seasoning I prefer on my quesadillas. Instead, I went with the same food safe option as I did with my butcher block counters: a mix of beeswax and mineral oil. As a bonus, the treatment really brings out the color in the wood grain!
Then, it’s just a matter of adding things in where they belong.
There you have it! For about $10 in wood, that’s one drawer down, several more yet left to organize. And don’t forget to check out the other DIY projects in this series with several of my blogging pals:
- Elisha from Pneumatic Addict (this month’s challenge host)
- Donna from Funky Junk Interiors
- Jen from House of Wood
- Jaime from That’s My Letter
- Emily from Merrypad
- Kim from The Kim Six Fix
- Corey from Sawdust 2 Stitches
- Mindi from MyLove2Create
- Sarah from The Ugly Duckling House (that’s me!)
What’s your latest DIY organization project? There’s always room on my to-do list for another!