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Drawer Organizer/Pencil Tray

Look at that mess!

I got a new (new-to-me that is) desk at work. However, it had NO pencil tray in the drawer, and really not much in the way of dividers for organizing things either.

Yes, I can fix this!

This project was essentially built entirely out of my head. But just to show you what I was thinking, I quickly drew this out.

I'm going to make a box to fill the drawer from side to side, which is a width of a bit over 12". It's going be about 8" long, and I'm going to make it a full 4" deep, to fill the drawer vertically.

I also want it to have a lip on each end, so I can make a pencil tray. The Pencil tray will be about 4" wide, and fill the box from side to side. It will ride on that lip, so I can slide it forward and back, to reveal more storage underneath.

Got it?

Adding to the fun, is the fact that I am going to build it out of a old chair. At work, everyone uses these upholstered adjustable office chairs. No one wants the old sturdy wooden chairs. They were going to throw out some old beat up square shaped chairs, so I took them home and broke them apart for the wood.

Here are a couple seats, and some leg pieces, and some slats. This is more than enough wood to build this little box.

The thicker leg bits are going to be glued up to make the pencil tray.
The chair legs had lots of holes in them, from the dowels that used to hold the chair together. I could not work around them, so I just found some dowels to glue into the holes to plug them up.
Here's the old broken seat after the first pass through the planer. In addition to showing a funny colour contrast, it also reveals some pretty nice red oak.
I planed the seat down to about 3/8" thick, and here are the other pieces glued up and in clamps.
There were still more holes to be filled in the legs! Five minute epoxy is a great help.
And here the stock is finally all dressed down to thickness and ready to be cut and shaped.
This was a good excuse to pull out my Woodgears Box Joint Jig and make some finger joints.
Here is a close up of the cutting operation. I love how you can load up four pieces of wood in the jig at once and therefore cut all the fingers on one side of the boards at once. Then I just flip them and cut the other set. It often feels like setting up the jig takes about as much time as using it.
The box is glued and clamped. The corner-to-corner clamp was added to make it come to square. Afterwards I glued and nailed a 1/4" piece of plywood to the bottom. It's a fairly utilitarian project, so I thought plywood was quick, strong and easy.
Next I could turn my attention to the pencil tray. I drew a curved shape on the end of the piece, roughly outlining the shape I wanted. Then I used some dado blades in my table saw to cut away the bulk of the waste.
I carved out rest on my Router Table using core box and roundover bits. The result is a pretty pleasing double curve (or whatever you call it!) like this.
Then I clamped in some pieces where the pencil tray could ride upon.

I also built a cross-shaped insert, which I did not remember to take photos of, to divide up the lower interior of the box. A few coats of rattle-can spray lacquer provided the finish.

Here it is installed in the drawer. The upper tray slides back and forth to uncover storage beneath.
One thing you might note is that I had to cut a notch to accommodate the (never used) lock in the front of drawer. It now serves as a sort of clamp to hold the tray in place

And that's all...


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