A Silverware Organizer is a must have component for every kitchen. And it doesn't have to be one of those cheap plastic ones from the local big box store. And even the wooden organizers are usually designed for the least common denominator leaving lots of unusable space in the drawer. A silverware organizer should be an elegant part of your cabinet drawer, designed to fit in with everything else in your kitchen workflow. It should look like it was made specifically for your kitchen, well, because it was! And I'm going to show you how!
Step 1: Milling Down the Materials
You're going to need to mill some wood down to size. I personally used a 3/4" x 5 1/2" section of Red Oak that I picked up at the local home improvement center. It was 6 ft long. I decided on oak purely because I had oak flooring in my kitchen and wanted it to match those.
The first thing you'll want to do is rip the board into 2 1/4" strips. I did this all at once so that I never had to move the fence a second time on my table saw. This will insure that all of my cuts are exactly the same. Using the table saw (or your band saw if you prefer) you'll need to re-saw the board into roughly 1/4" wide strips. I prefer to oversize these my 1/16" or so to make sure I have plenty of material left over to run through the planer and sand. You're looking for exactly a 1/4" finished thickness.
Step 2: The Rabbets, Dados, and Glue Up
Assembling the silverware organizer is going to be much simpler if we have rabbets and dados to use for alignment and proper fit. Remember that whole 1/4" thickness goal on the previous step? You'll need to install a 1/4" dado stack (or use a 1/4" router bit) on your table saw and cut a rabbet on the ends of both the front and the back strips.
Follow that up with making dados everywhere you want your dividers to go. Be sure to add 1/8" inch to every measurement to account for the depth of the dado or you'll wind up with dividers that are too short when you're finished.
The dados, especially if they're a snug fit, make it easy to slip everything together and keep it all aligned when you do the glue up. It's important to note that using brad nails is not a good idea. Wood this thin is highly prone to splitting. I'd recommend you just use some clamps and lightly clamp up the tray. Do not glue on the bottom section yet!
Step 3: Install the Bottom and Finish It!
Installing the bottom is done separately. Cut the wood about 1/4" too large in both length and width. Glue it to the bottom of the tray and let it sit overnight. This will allow the glue to cure completely before the next step.
The reason we over-sized the bottom is because glue ups of this nature a very prone to errors. The slats are likely to shift during the glue up and warp a tiny bit. This will leave us with a tray bottom that fits perfect in some places, but not in others. Over-sizing it allows us to use a flush trim bit on the router remove the excess material and leave us with a perfect fit, regardless of any imperfections in our glue up or previous cuts.
The last step is to finish the silverware organizer. I finished mine with Minwax Jacobean oil stain. I picked that stain because it is water resistant and matches the stain of our cabinets and flooring very close. I simply covered it with spray lacquer to protect that finish. I like to spray on a couple of lighter coats, wait 30 to 40 minutes and then use a fine steel wool on it before applying the final coat.