Easy DIY Wooden Drawer Dividers – No Tools Needed!

Easy DIY Wooden Drawer Dividers – No Tools Needed!

Storage space in my daughter’s bathroom was limited to a very narrow drawer and a couple of narrow cabinet shelves. To solve this issue, a few months ago I brought into her bathroom this versatile little piece of furniture (her bedside table in our San Francisco home). It is about 3 feet long, so the top part gave her plenty of “countertop” space, plus two more drawers and two large shelves. That’s plenty of room for her makeup and other vanity essentials. She placed my gorgeous IKEA Samla boxes on the shelves and filled them with all that she wasn’t using on a daily basis, she styled the top part with pretty glass containers and perfume bottles and she threw her everyday makeup inside the drawers. Everything was perfect, except for the drawers…Soon, she was looking to buy some drawer dividers to keep everything in place.

Knowing that it wouldn’t be easy to find dividers that would fit these small and shallow drawers,  I decided to create them myself, custom made to my daughter’s specific needs. I had seen quite a few tutorials for wooden dividers but they all required either a jigsaw (I don’t have one), or a hand saw (too hard on my hands & arms & shoulders) or multiple trips to the hardware store to have wood strips cut to size (impossible to calculate so many pieces to the exact millimeter). The answer to my problem was to make the dividers from balsa wood which is a light wood that can be cut with a kitchen knife.

This is what I used to make them:

Balsa wood comes in sticks and strips of different thickness and dimensions. The one I chose was 1″ high ~ about half the height of the drawer ~ and wide enough (1/4″) to  give me enough surface to apply glue on.

To figure out where to place each divider, I started by arranging the makeup inside the drawer in groups. I moved everything around a few times before finding the most space efficient arrangement.

To make the dividers, I cut strips of balsa wood on the cutting board to the desired size with a kitchen knife. This structure will best work with at least one strip of wood that goes from one side of the drawer to the other, so I started with that one ~ it divided the drawer in two parts. From there on it was easy to attach smaller strips of wood and create smaller compartments.

Because balsa wood is very soft it will  easily chip and splinter so you need to cut slowly and steadily. I found that it’s better to first cut lightly around all sides of the wood and then cut through.

A sanding sponge will straighten the edges where needed (do not sand too much, otherwise the edges will lose their 45º angles).

With a toothpick or a Q-tip, I applied wood glue {generously} on the bottom part of the strip and the two sides. I placed the wood strip inside the drawer, applied pressure with my hands for a few seconds. With a cloth, I wiped out excess glue. The glue needs to dry for a few minutes before connecting more strips. At first, it seemed as if the entire construction was wiggly and that it would fall apart, but when it dried out after a few hours, it was very stable and strongly attached to the drawer.

You can see here the one horizontal long strip of wood that goes across the drawer. Then smaller ones create the smaller compartments.

After experimenting with the first drawer, the second one turned out even better.

I created the compartments based on the most frequently used items ~ these should be on the front part of the drawer, while the least appealing ones (nail clippers, manicure scissors, etc.) can be in the back.

Another detail I wanted to share, here, is that you must make sure that the items in the back compartments are fully accessible. These specific drawers do not come all the way out, so I made the dividers relatively short. This way the items in the back are reachable.

On another note, I wanted to show the impact of placing a piece or furniture inside a bathroom. This small console/bedside table turned out to be perfect here. It adds the warmth that was needed in this sterile white tiled space and apart from extra storage, it provides an additional surface to style pretty items.

The upgraded IKEA Samla boxes look amazing on the lower shelves of this console ~ I now need to find another solution to store my scarves and belts. I painted this piece of furniture a while back ~ If you want to see what it looked like when I got it, click here.

Opening these drawers is a true joy!

No other storage solution would had given such customization! Even these travel-size lipsticks have their own spot.

It’s also worth talking about the cost: I used 3 pieces of balsa wood, all for about $5 ~ that was the cost of the entire project. I don’t think any other drawer organizer would had been so beautiful, so custom made,  so easy and quick, and at such a low cost.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that balsa wood is soft, so it will easily create dents if you’re not careful. Also, I would not recommend making balsa wood dividers for big and heavy kitchen utensils. This project here would work best for storing smaller items for a desk drawer, a junk drawer, jewelry -of course!- and maybe small kitchen gadgets. With higher dividers, it can also work nicely for lingerie.

I waited for a week before writing this post ~ I had to make sure that the dividers were stable and strong!

Last, if I ever want to removed the dividers, I could easily do so with a chisel.

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Hi! I'm Angelica! For the last ten years I've been sharing my cooking, home projects and ideas with my sister Irene. "Once Again, My Dear Irene" is just an extension of our daily chats. Moreover "My Dear Irene" Continue Reading