This one didn’t work out the way I wanted. The goal of doing the drawer dividers for the metal drawer box I store my art supplies in was to make the dividers cheap but also modular. The cheap part thanks to the cardboard worked but modular it wasn’t. I couldn’t make the tabs and slots work the way I wanted. So I decided this week, with access to some new and somewhat stronger cardboard I tried again.

Spoilers: It didn’t work as planned. On the plus side I think I learned something while doing this and I’m not sure I can do what I really wanted to do. So here’s what I ended up doing this time and some ideas I have going forward.

So here’s how it finally ended up after the first attempt. The empty space is for my inking pens, which I need new back-ups for so that’s why the space is empty. They’re divided up well enough but the old dividers were very flimsy. The system I used was a groove in the short divider that connects to the groove in the long divider and I learned while doing this it wasn’t just the cardboard that was the problem.

For the new attempt I had to measure out the piece I needed. I was hoping to hold it in with friction but at first I thought it was coming up slightly short. It was only in later stages that I learned it didn’t matter. The cardboard was still too floppy once cut to the length and height of the drawer.

for the long dividers I found putting a shim in there helped. I’m not sure why because even when I got the length right you’d think the drawer would hold it. For some reason it didn’t but the cardboard it would hold in place for, though again still a bit floppy.

The short dividers are where I had the most trouble. Here’s the old groove system I mentioned, but in order to move them around to fit the pen and pencil count I’d have to cut more grooves, and it was too floppy. Once I got the long divider in place I thought I could hold the short divider, but once again friction doesn’t seem to work on these small dividers. It worked on the larger drawers but not here. I guess somewhere in the downscale things get too weak.

I ended up taping the short dividers to either end of the long dividers and shims, which seemed to work but again it’s not as modular as I wanted. What I really need is some way to hold things in place but the tabs or tracks that could pull that off are a bit difficult for this design. I may have to face the fact that I won’t get the level of modularness (not a real world I know) I wanted. I’m still going to have to make something that I can move a bit to size up the compartments but it will never be as close as I want. Some options are…

  • create a series of small boxes and organize them, but if a particular group is too small or too large I’ll have to accept wasted space or make a whole new box
  • create an entire storage unit and still find a slot design that will hold them in place, though my cheap and artistic project has a few limits there
  • another option I haven’t considered yet.

Sure I could probably buy one but I haven’t seen any where I can resize the compartments to whatever I want, and that’s one of the reasons I’m trying to design my own dividers with cardboard. Wood isn’t an option because that would use up space as well and be a bit heavy. I want something thin enough to use as little storage space as possible while still being able to resize the compartments as necessary. It’s a design challenge I’m going to have to think about a bit more so this is what I’ll be using for now. The second drawer I use dividers for, with all my coloring tools not in the art caddy, will have to wait until I figure something better out but thankfully I don’t use those that often. I don’t consider it a failure until I give up. This was a learning experience and I just need to apply what I learned to get as close to my goal as possible.