This project is the third in a series that began with the one shown above. They were all born out of the common need to keep cabinet contents from degenerating into a chaotic mass. While the current project is a single area rather than a double as above, the construction principles are the same. The common feature is a series of 1/8″ hardboard dividers sliding in grooves to create adjustable storage spaces. While this is a simple project, I decided to blog about it in the hopes that it might give the newer woodworkers some ideas.
The project began by cutting a pair of plywood panels to size to fit inside the cabinet. One would attach to the floor, the other be suspended on cleats like a regular shelf. These were first primed and painted (yes, white), and then grooves for the hardboard were cut 5/16” in the surface with a tablesaw blade (standard kerf). To do this, I started with the blade 3” from one end, turned the panel around to cut both ends, and then repeated on the other panel. The fence was then moved away 1” and the process repeated. In the end, you have two panels with a matching series of grooves as seen below.
Murloc the Shop Helper Kitty is pointing out that it’s important to paint the panels before cutting the grooves. If you don’t, imagine the mess you’d have trying to keep the paint on the surface where it belongs. In this picture, the grooved panel has been clamped in the vise in preparation for applying adhesive edge banding. If you’re unfamiliar with using edge banding, Marc Spagnuolo, the Wood Whisperer, has a fantastic tutorial video available on his website here.
Once the edge banding is installed, it is primed and painted as well. Yes, once again, we paint first, and for the same reason. Once the edge was painted, I cut the grooves through with a fine dovetail saw, and cleaned them out with a fine-pointed hobby knife. At this point, the two panels are mounted in the cabinet as described above. Next, 1/8” tempered hardboard is cut into dividers to fit the grooves. It’s better to wait until you have installed the panels in the cabinet before performing this step – you’re far more likely to get the sizes right with direct measurement.
One thing I have found doing these projects is that hardboard is invariably slightly thicker than a 1/8” saw kerf. It would be possible, though difficult, to widen the kerf, but it’s much easier to fit the panels. I set a combination square to the depth of the kerf the divider will slide in and use this to position a wooden fence on the edge of the hardboard (fuzzy side up). Two or three passes with a shoulder plane is all that is needed to create a good fit.
And here you see the finished product. I bandsawed a recess into the front edge of the divider panels in this one to make it easier to reach the contents, but I’m sure you can come up with all sorts of variations of this theme to make your own cabinets a little more organized. Just use your imagination and rack up a few brownie points.