How To Properly Measure/Join Drawer Dividers

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Forum topic by Tripe46 posted 09-19-2016 04:11 PM 295 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 38 days

09-19-2016 04:11 PM

Hi! I’m new to the forum and to woodworking in general. I’ve made some drawer dividers for our silverware drawer, and I want to separate the 3 sections that I have made using joints like the picture below.

What is that particular method of joining wood called, and what is the proper way to measure for it?

I did one successfully, but I just measured to center of the divider marked it then measured 1/8th” to either side (as the board I am working with is 1/4” thick.) Then I made a few cuts halfway though the divider with a table saw to get 1/4” width. It worked, but the joint is loose. Is there a better/more precise way to do this?


6 replies so far

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Rick M.

7732 posts in 1804 days

#1 posted 09-20-2016 04:20 AM

It’s called a half lap joint. I just made dividers for drawers in my shop. There is probably a jig you can make but I just marked them with a pencil and cut them on the tablesaw same as you.


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2302 posts in 1833 days

#2 posted 09-20-2016 04:22 AM

It s called a half lap joint. I just made some dividers for drawers in my shop. There is probably a jig you can make but I just marked them with a pencil and cut them on the tablesaw same as you.

- Rick M.

Same for me, takes patience to set it up. I made one for a drawer full of 2 inch square Corian pieces took awhile to draw it all out and cut.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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754 posts in 344 days

#3 posted 09-20-2016 12:45 PM


Getting the exact width of the half lap joint could produce a snug fit that can eliminate some of the wobble evidently seen in your joint. Some test pieces and a stop blocks at the table saw is one way to get a snug fitting joint. One stop block could be clamped to the table saw fence, positioned on the infeed end of the saw and held back away from the blade. The other stop bock would be clamped to the fence on the mitre gauge. A distance between the stop blocks that is exactly equal to the length of the work piece PLUS the thickness of the work piece would produce a joint whose width is the same as the work piece.

Setting up for the initial cut could be done by placing the workpiece against the mitre gauge and aligning the work piece with the blade to establish the location of the first cut. The table saw fence is then positioned so the stop block on the fence contacts the end of the work piece. The fence is locked down. A scrap piece of material the same thickness as the workpiece is then placed with its face against the stop block on the fence. The work piece is butted up to the opposite face of the scrap now setting against the fence stop block. The stop block on the mitre gauge is brought into contact with the opposite end of the workpiece and clamped. These two stop blocks now limit the position of the workpiece to the thickness of the workpiece and the cuts to establish the joint can be made.

If a fine threaded screw is installed in the stop block clamped to the mitre gauge and the screw is positioned so that the work piece butts up against the screw stop, then fine tuning of the width of the joint is fairly easy. If the joint in the test piece is a little too tight, the screw be turned a ¼ of a turn into the stop block; if the joint is a little too loose, the screw can be turned a ¼ turn out of the stop block.

If you table saw is like mine, the mitre gauge fits into the mitre slot milled into the table of the saw table with a little slop. This slop can be enough to prevent the width of the joint from being accurately cut. I overcome this problem by ensuring the mitre gauge is in firm contact with one side of the mitre slot when doing the setup and when making the cuts.

Even with snug fitting joints the ¼” thick material can still allow for some wobble in the joint. Gluing the joints will help eliminate the wobble, but setting the silverware dividers in a border frame or on a bottom would likely be the best solution to stabilize the silverware boxes.

View jumbojack's profile


1667 posts in 2048 days

#4 posted 09-20-2016 01:01 PM

Do a search on these forums for kerf maker and table saw sleds. With those two shop made tools your dividers will turn out perfect.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

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222 posts in 267 days

#5 posted 09-20-2016 01:02 PM

You can make a bottom piece in 1/4” ply and glue. You could dado in grooves for the pieces to fit in, but the glue will almost certainly be strong enough on its own. Just set the dividers with glue on the bottom onto the bottom piece and add a weight to maintain contact. Let it sit for at least 6 hours and then put it in the drawer.

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View Tripe46's profile


2 posts in 38 days

#6 posted 09-20-2016 03:19 PM

Thanks for all of the advice/suggestions. I’m really looking forward to getting good at this.

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