Introduction: Drawing Utensils Organization

My girlfriend is teaching 1st grade kids. My inspiration for this project came to me, when she was experiencing issues keeping the drawing utensils in order, for when the kids are drawing. The system that is in place now, revolves around the kids going up to the drawing cabinet, to get what they think they need. This method is both chaotic and resolves in a big mess when they need to put everything back from where they took them.

The idea behind this organizer, is that she can put one organizer on each table, with everything they need in it. The bottom basket is supposed to contain crayons, colored pencils or speed markers. The middle basket is supposed to contain glue-sticks. The upper basket will contain pencil sharpeners, erasers etc. Of course, this organizer can be used for organizing stuff on your desk or workplace as well.


  • 1 m^2 3 mm MDF
  • 20 mm MDF (just a small piece is needed)
  • Aluminum rod (other metal rods will work aswell)
  • Laser cutter
  • CNC-mill OR a jigsaw and a router
  • Hand threading toom

Step 1: Drawing the Organizer in a CAD-program

First, I started out drawing the parts in SolidWorks. The thing about laser cutting is that it only needs a 2D-file, as depth is adjusted on the laser cutter itself. When the files are done, they need to be saved as a 2D-file. I usually save them as .DXF.

Step 2: Laser Cutting the Baskets

After the CAD drawing was done, it was time to laser cut the baskets. This is done by laser cutting 3 mm MDF. By cutting small lines with a set distance in between, inflexible material becomes very flexible, allowing it to bend a lot.

There is a lot of laser cut patterns for making wood bendable. I used a very basic pattern with just straight lines staggered by each other.

On my first attempt I tried to laser cut the sides of the baskets with 4 mm in between every cut, but the MDF simply broke when I tried to bend it in place. One my second attempt I tried with 2.9 mm in between every cut, and it worked perfectly.

All the CAD files for the basket parts can be found at the bottom of this Instructable.

Step 3: ​Making the Base of the Organizer

When the baskets were done, I made the base of the organizer. I made it out of 20 mm MDF. 18 or 15 mm MDF will do just as fine. As the organizer was designed for a classroom with limited storage, the base was designed to be space effective when stored. Above is a picture of how effective 6 bases can be stored demonstraded as a CAD drawing.

The best way to make the base is by CNC-milling. I do not have access to a CNC-miller currently, so I made it with a router and Jigsaw. But when routing small pieces it can be difficult not to make small inroads.

First, I laser cut a template with the shape of the base out of scrap leftover 3 mm MDF from the baskets. Thereafter I outlined the shape on the 20 mm MDF so that I could remove excess material with a Jigsaw. After that I clamped the template to the MDF and used a flush trim bit for the router. This bit uses the template as guide to copy the exact shape of the template.

After the base was done, I removed some material from the bottom of the base in order to make room for the nut that is holding the rod in place. This was done with chisels and by outlining the nut on the material.

Step 4: Threading the Aluminum Rod

For this project I bought an 8 mm aluminum rod, but other metals will work as well. I started by making a small chamfer on both ends of the rod. This is both for breaking the sharp edge, but also to make it easier to thread.

For threading the rod, I used a hand-threading tool. The best way to thread a rod by hand is by going a full rotation down, and half a rotation up. Keep doing this until the desired thread length is achieved. This method ensures a clean cut and makes sure that a nut will screw on nicely.

I chose to keep some excess rod at the top to act as a handle, but this can be cut shorter for a more stylish look.

After all these parts are done, only the assembly remain.

Step 5: Final Notes

  • This organizer can be made in different lengths. Simply adjust the length of the rod and use different combinations of the three basket sizes.
  • When laser cutting, it is a good idea to weigh the material down to the bars that the material rests on. This is because wood tend to bend depending on the humidity in the room. But make sure that the weights don’t come close to the laser when cutting.
  • If you are going to use the organizer for heavy things, it is a good idea to put small drops of wood glue in the joints, as the bottom of the baskets might otherwise fall apart.
  • I don’t have any pictures of the organizer in use with the 1st grade kids, but I will add them as soon as the organizer is put in use.

Step 6: SolidWorks CAD Files

Classroom Organization Challenge

Participated in the
Classroom Organization Challenge