How to Make Custom Junk Drawer Dividers

We all want the spaces in our homes to be efficient and organized. But, sometimes we become blind to the often-used spaces leaving them cluttered and chaotic. This chaos becomes the norm. And this was definitely the case with our junk drawer; we used only a few items in the front, leaving the rest in disarray. It was past time to organize it once and for all.

After assessing our junk drawer, it was clear that custom dividers were the best way to go. And, by custom, I mean DIY. Of course, these custom drawer dividers will be specific to our junk and similar to our custom deep drawer dividers. But you can easily customize these dividers to suit your junk drawer needs. Check out what I did and follow the tutorial to find out how to make custom junk drawer dividers for one of the most used drawers in your house.

Here’s a before photo of my junk drawer. Divided, but not contained. That’s about to change.

How to make Custom Junk Drawer Dividers - junk drawer Before pic

Despite its shortcomings, the so-called junk drawer houses necessary everyday, non-kitchen essentials that we use every day. So, let’s get right to it!!

Custom Junk Drawer Divider Tutorial

Skill Level: Beginner



Approximate Cost of Supplies = $33.71

Step 1: Measure and Make a Box

Remove the drawer and its contents, placing it on the kitchen counter or table protected by a drop cloth or old towel. Then thoroughly clean the drawer.

Junk drawer items on a drop cloth
Contents of the junk drawer.

Build a box made of hobby boards that will line the inside of the drawer. This box will support the sliding trays and provide a framework for gluing individual drawer dividers (without gluing them directly to the drawer.)

Note: I chose 1.5″ hobby boards for dividers because our junk drawer is shallow, measuring only 3⅜” in height. The 1.5″ hobby boards accommodate a two-tiered divider system in our drawer.

Measure the drawer box front to back and transfer that measurement to one of the ¼″ x 1.5″ x 48″ boards. Then cut the hobby board for the left and right sides and dry fit them inside the drawer. Sanding the board ends to smooth any frayed edges as you go (optional). Measure the distance between the right and left boards for the box front and back. Cut the other ¼″ x 1.5″ x 48″ board to make the front and back of the box. Glue all parts of the box together inside the drawer. I added small pieces of wax paper under each glue joint to prevent the divider box and individual dividers from being glued directly to the drawer box (once the glue dries, pull out the wax paper bits.)

Tip: Gluing the boards together can be messy, so keep a few damp paper towels close by to clean excess glue from the boards and your fingers. Since the divider boards fit snuggly, I decided to use the glue as if it was caulk, running a bead along the joints and using my finger to press some glue into the joints.

The photo below shows the completed drawer divider frame inside the drawer. The measuring tape and speed square are holding the boards in place while the glue dries.

How to make Custom Junk Drawer Dividers - completed hobby board box inside drawer
You can see the bead of glue in the front right corner joint and wax paper under each joint.

Step 2: Divide and Conquer

To determine how many dividers we needed, I staged the drawer in different configurations based on possible usage; pens and screwdrivers in the front and less frequently used items in the back (like lightbulbs and flashlights).

I also arranged some of the everyday items onto a piece of 5.5″ hobby board on top of the drawer to serve as a temporary stand-in for the sliding tray that will hold our most used items – scissors, post-it notes, and TV remotes.

Staging the junk drawer prior to dividing it
Staging the drawer and the tray.

I made a small mark with a pencil on the top of the box for divider placement. I then measured and cut the divider boards and glued them into place. This drawer necessitated more divided spaces than any other drawer in our kitchen due to the variety of items it contained.

Tip: To hold the dividers securely in place while the glue dries, I used spacers cut from scrap wood on one side of the divider board and something heavy on the other side like a measuring tape or soup cans.

How to make Custom Junk Drawer Dividers - glue drying on custom dividers, dividers held in place with soup cans
Soup cans, measuring tape, and scrap wood spacers hold the dividers in place while the glue dries.
Bottom level of junk drawer After
Junk Drawer Divided.

Step 3: Put a Tray on it!

Now that the dividers are in place in the bottom of the drawer, it was time to construct the sliding trays using the ¼″ x 5.5″ x 48″ hobby board as the tray base and the ¼″ x 1.5″ x 48″ hobby boards for the sides.

How to make Custom Junk Drawer Dividers - 1.5" and 5.5" hobby boards used for this project
Hobby boards that will make up the tray base and sides. Both poplar and oak work great.

Measure the drawer width for the tray base and cut the 5.5″ board. Dry fit the 5.5″ tray base on the divider box to make sure it has enough room to slide. Next, measure the width and length of the tray base to make the tray sides. Measure, mark, and cut the 1.5″ hobby boards and glue them into place.

Clamps holding sliding tray sides to base
The tray sides are glued and clamped to the tray base while the glue dries, about 10 minutes.

Step 4: Nailed It! (Optional, but highly recommended)

To ensure that the tray components stay together, I used a brad nailer and ¾″ brads to secure the tray sides to each other and the tray base.

How to make Custom Junk Drawer Dividers - using a brad nailer to secure sides to base of tray for added stability
Two completed Trays for junk drawer
Voila! Completed trays!

Once the trays were in place, I found that they weren’t sliding along the box as well as expected. So I grabbed an old candle and rubbed it along the bottom outer edges of both trays to eliminate any friction between the surfaces. That did the trick, and now the trays slide easily without any drag!!

Finished custom junk drawer organizer with sliding trays
DIY Custom Junk Drawer Dividers and Sliding Trays.

This project took only a few hours to complete and was SO worth it! The sliding trays are a much-needed bonus, allowing easy access to the everyday items we use most often.

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