How to make a Tray Divider using Dado Joints

I am so excited to show you guys my latest project...How to make a Tray Divider using Dado Joints! 
How to make a Tray divider using Dado Joints with free plans and a full picture tutorial, MyLove2Create

I have wanted to make one of these for soooo long ever since I saw my friends Above the Fridge Tray divider, and I am happy to finally have it checked off my to do list!

If you recall my Long Octagon Tray I made in October I mentioned being a part of the Mentor group with Sandra from  This is my second post as a part of this group and I am telling has really pushed me to accomplish some serious fears!   Stay tuned at the bottom of the post and I will send you over to see what those fears were and why I am feeling so proud of this simple project!
before of tray and pans in cupboard
But for now, this folks, is the offending before shot.  Yeah you may say, that is not so bad...HA!  Every time I would try and grab a tray, half of the others would pull out with it, or they would fall over, or slide down...and trying to put trays back in...ugh, super difficult!  Then when my kids would try and put them away...yeah, it was a major pain!  Do you have this problem?

When Sandra challenged us to try a new joinery method this month, I KNEW exactly what I was going to do, dado I could get this mess under control!  

How To Make a Tray Divider Using Dado Joints

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Free plans to make a tray divider for you kitchen

Cut List:
  • 2 - 3/4’’ Plywood @ 22.5” x 19” (Top and Bottom Pieces)
  • 2 - 3/4’’ Plywood @ 19’’ x 16” (Sides)
  • 6 - 1/4’’ Plywood @ 19” x 15’’  (6 Tray Dividers)
Step 1: Cut Plywood as shown
plywood cuts for tray divider to organize your pans and trays in the kitchen
If you need to buy your plywood new (I used scrap and repurposed pieces) you will just purchase a half sheet each of 3/4'' and 1/4'' plywood.  Use a Table Saw to make your cuts or you can use a Kreg Rip-Cut and Circular Saw to do it.

Step 2: Cut your Dados in the Top and Bottom Pieces using a table saw 
symmetrical dados
To see how I did this you will need to go to my full tutorial on How to cut a Dado on a Table Saw.
1/4'' dado
For this project you will need to make your dados the same width as your 1/4'' plywood.  I suggest you use a piece of the actual plywood you are going to use to measure and cut your dados.
happy about my symmetrical dados
I was super excited to have all my dados lined up perfectly, don't worry I show you how in my dado post, it is easier than you would think!
testing my dado joints
Here are some shots of me testing them out, and measuring for how long to make the sides, since I made up this plan as I went along.  I wrote up plans to save you a ton of time so you don't have to do the hard part!

Step 3: Notch out your Tray dividers and cut out with a jig saw
notching dimensions for tray dividers
Here are the dimensions to notch out your tray dividers, this is the size I cut my dividers, but you can modify it to suit your needs, the notching doesn't need to be exact.
how to notch out dividers with a jig saw
I measured and marked my 1/4" dividers and then cut them out with a jig saw.  Notice that I used my wood glue bottle to help with my curve. :)  To save time I stacked three dividers together, clamped them down, and then cut out all three at once.

Step 4: Attach the bottom to the sides
attaching the bottom tray divider piece to the sides with pocket holes
Using your Kreg jig drill 3/4'' pocket holes into the 19'' ends of the top and bottom pieces, on the opposite side of your dados.
using a right angle clamp to screw in pocket hole screws

Attach the bottom to the two sides with 1 1/4'' pocket hole screws and wood glue.   I like to use bar clamps or right angle clamps to hold my boards together while I add the screws.  This keeps the boards together so they don't shift while you drill.

Optional: Paint before building
paint building pieces before you build to avoid painting in tight spaces
If you plan on painting your tray divider, then I highly recommend that you paint it BEFORE you build it!  Just trust me! ;)

Step 5:  Add your tray dividers and attach the top piece
add tray dividers to dados in bottom piece
Fit your tray dividers into the dados on the bottom piece.
attaching the top dado piece
Then attach the top piece with pocket hole screws.
building the tray divider with dado joints
I started doing this on my work bench but it was too hard to reach, so I moved it to the floor.  It found that it was easier for me to loosely clamp the top board to the sides and then slide in the divider pieces.  Then I tightened the clamp on one side (bottom left) and added the divider pieces to the other side.
clamp and screw in pocket hole screws
With all the dividers in place and the top board clamped flush to the sides, I was ready to add my pocket hole screws.

And I was done!!  Woo hoo!
organize your trays and pans in your kitchen cupboard with this amazing DIY Tray divider
I cleared out my cupboard and set it inside, it is just what I needed!
get your kitchen organized with free plans for this tray divider
No more messy pans and trays falling everywhere...And the best part?!  My kids can get them out and put them away without my help!  Why did I wait so long to make this!

If you have a similar problem in your kitchen cupboard then I highly suggest you tackle this project!
How to make a Tray divider using Dado Joints with free plans and a full picture tutorial, MyLove2Create
See the amazing difference!?!  This is what happiness looks like people!

Be sure to pin this for later!

Now it is time to go over to see my mentorship post on How to cut a Dado on a Table Saw, and my newest conquered fear!!  Seriously it is such a relief!  I am so excited to share this with you!




  1. This is so perfect. I build a tray divider for my kitchen remodel but wish you would have made this tutorial first. Yours is so much more sophisticated! AND yeah for conquering your table saw fear! You go girl!

    1. Thank you so much Sandra, you are so sweet! Thanks for helping me to conquer my fear, you get big props for that!!

  2. Amazing Post. Nice Images as well. Thanks a lot for sharing a great idea


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