Knife block reality check

Not long ago, a satisfied-but-less-than-thrilled knife block customer sent me a picture of his finished project.

Though the knife block is functional, some cooks might like the levitating knife handle of the cleaver shown in this photo above. Others might love it. It would be easy to grab for a quick chop, chop, chop…

For handle-heavy knives, you might end up with a situation like the above. The handle of this butcher knife is resting on the block while the tip of the knife is exposed. Assuming the tip is towards to back of the drawer, this wouldn’t be cause for concern, but if the block was being stored in another orientation, that could be problematic.

Just understand that tall-bladed and long, handle-heavy knives might “sit” differently that expected in the knife block.

Layered/stacked kitchen drawer organizers

I recently received the following images from a happy customer who ordered two custom drawer inserts, and they sit in the same drawer, one on top of the other. The top insert fills the width but not the depth of the drawer. She can move the top layer to the front or back of the drawer to access the items underneath. Clever. And it looks great!

This is a great solution for tall drawers and for tiny kitchens where some drawers need to pull double duty.

“I want a cubby grid, but my drawer is over 31 inches wide. What can I do?”

If you have a greater than 31″-wide drawer, you won’t be able to plan a cubby grid using our design wizard, as it won’t accept drawer dimensions greater than 31.

But you can contact us, and we can design a cubby grid for your large drawer that will actually be two cubby grids with staggered walls that sit side-by-side in your drawer.

The red dots on the drawing below indicate where the “tails” of the two cubby grids would meet.

Is there an ideal cubby size for a tie drawer?

Good question. There would be if all ties were created equally, but they’re not. Remember the skinny neckties of the ’80s? Perhaps they were in backlash to the wide ties of the ’70s. Today, ties tend to be mostly somewhere in between, but you never know when a new width will become the next big trend. What to do? Here are some thoughts on how to size your tie cubbies.

Cubby Grid tie drawer organizer

If you want your cubby grid to be evenly spaced, and you want your ties to be placed broad-side up in drawer, as seen above, you need to measure the width of your widest tie and plan the cubby width accordingly. The above are 3.5″ x 3.5″

A 3 x 3″ cubby will comfortably accommodate the typical tie, if not in the broad-side up position, then in the edge-side up position so that the coil is visible, like a cinnamon roll’s swirl, as in the photo below. (Thanks to Flickr’s WernerKrause for the use of this image.)

rolled tie

Don’t forget that cubbies don’t have to be evenly spaced. You could have a couple columns for skinny and bow ties and one for wide ones, as shown in the layout below. On page four of the design wizard, just drag the wall to suit your preference.

cubby grid design

On page four of the design wizard, just drag the walls to suit your preference.

“The drawer insert is beautiful and is the right size…but I can’t get it in the drawer!”

I recently got the following from a customer:

The divider looks great. The only problem is my drawer does not come out and it just won’t fit. We are talking about half an inch…So upset. What would you recommend? Is it easy for me to remove the nails from one side and trim it a bit?

This was my response:

Don’t worry. We’ve never met a drawer that could not be removed from the cabinet. Sometimes it seems impossible, but you probably have some modern drawer slides with a safety feature to keep the drawer from toppling out on a curious toddler. There’s probably a very simple mechanism that needs to be pressed or slid to one side to allow you to completely remove the drawer. 

I recommend you do a Google image search to find out what kind of drawer slides you have, and then to a search at YouTube for how to remove a drawer with that type of slide.

Let me know how it goes!

The customer was able to figure out how to remove his drawer and successfully put his insert in. No tools required.

Small/Narrow kitchen drawer inspiration

Flatware tends to get relegated to the narrowest of kitchen drawers — and for good reason! Few kitchen tools are as slim as silverware. Though they’re often small in size, a flatware drawer is typically the most frequently opened drawer in the entire kitchen. For that reason alone it deserves to be well-organized and to look great!

Here are some photos of beautiful, narrow kitchen drawer, worthy of a smile every time they’re opened.

narrow kitchen drawer Jill template

Continue reading “Small/Narrow kitchen drawer inspiration”

Thin side walls for inserts in narrow drawers

narrow drawer with extra-thin side walls to maximize usable space

Another title for this post could have been “A match made in heaven — your narrow drawer and the Brandi template.” But that sounds too dramatic and rather ridiculous. So we’ll stick with the boring-but-practical-sounding title.

The narrow kitchen drawer tends to be used for flatware, and there may be no better candidate for a custom drawer insert. Why? Because every bit of space counts in a narrow drawer!

Narrow flatware drawer organizer insert

By far, our most popular template for narrow kitchen drawer is the Brandi template…and for good reason. When all the dividers in an insert are oriented front-to-back, we can use thinner material for the side walls of the insert, leaving more usable space across the width of the drawer than with other templates.

You might be wondering, “Why can’t you always use thinner material?” Well, the slots require that we use thicker material. If dividers are in the side-to-side orientation, we need thicker walls to make sure there’s room for slots and for enough material left over for a structurally sound product.

tiny kitchen flatware drawer

If having thinner material is important for your drawer situation, let us know, and we’ll do what we can do accommodate.

When scooped dividers are not appropriate

Scooped dividers are handy — even essential — in some situations. In others, they’re just a preference. There’s one situation, though, where having scooped dividers is not advised — when they’re oriented perpendicularly to the utensils they separate. Not only are they unnecessary in those situations, they’re a liability. Let me explain…

In general, scooped dividers should be oriented in same direction as the utensils, as in the scooped divider (not circled) on the left in the image above.

The remaining circled scooped dividers in the photo above are oriented perpendicularly to the utensils that will be in those sections and will be subject to the impact of sliding utensils on the smallest, most vulnerable area of the dividers, the material just below the cutout, as the drawer is opened and closed.

In such cases, we insist that you opt for regular dividers. Not only will you save money, you’ll get a more durable product.

Can I turn my custom insert around?

If you mean, “Can I turn my custom insert 180 degrees?” the answer is yes. You can plan inserts with this in mind. Here are some examples of inserts that were planned in one orientation, but the owner is using them turned around. What was at 12:00 is now at 6:00.

Here is our Eric template…

And here is an insert designed using the Eric template, turned 180 degrees in its drawer.

The following is our Jill template…

And here is an insert designed with the Jill template turned 180 degrees in the drawer.

Here is our Andrea template…

And here is an insert designed with the Andrea template and turned 180 degrees in the drawer.

So, yes, turning an insert around in your drawer works just fine.

What’s not possible is flipping the insert over, pancake style. That’s a no-no for two reasons.

First, the underside of our inserts are unfinished. Second, and more importantly, the dividers would not function properly. The dividers cannot be removed from the bottom. This is an intentional design so that the entire insert can be lifted straight up, and, even if the insert is bottomless, the dividers will not fall through. 

Avoid this common mistake when sketching your drawer insert

You can see it in your mind’s eye — the perfect layout for your drawer. Quick, make a sketch before the image fades!

If you’re like most of us non-engineering types, you sketch your layout in two dimensions. The artistic quality is akin to a stick figure, which is fine as long as you realize that, like stick figures, stick drawer organizers  don’t exist in the real world. Real-world drawer inserts have dimension (or thickness). Are you with me?

I sometimes receive drawings like the following along with a message like this: “This is a pretty straightforward design. Can you make this?”

Well…no, actually.  Here’s why…

The drawer’s internal depth is 19″. The perimeter walls and the two horizontal fixed walls will be 1/2″ thick. When we subtract the thickness of the front perimeter wall (1/2″ thick), the back perimeter wall (1/2″ thick), and the two horizontal fixed walls (1/2″ + 1/2″ = 1″), we’re left with 17″ of usable depth.

There’s 17″ to divide among the front, middle, and back sections — not 19″. So it’s back to the drawing board. At least one section’s usable space will need to be reduced. If that’s not possible due to the length of the contents being stored, a different layout is needed.

P.S. If things just won’t fit, maybe you need an outside-the-box solution.