Spice Up Your Boxes With Wooden Dividers

An easy way to spice up an otherwise ordinary box is to add dividers.

Follow along to learn how to make wooden dividers.

fishing lure box
Photos and boxes via wooden-box-maker.com

Half-lap joinery

The best way I have found to make dividers is to use half laps. A half-lap joint is created by cutting halfway through one piece of wood and halfway through another so they are flush when you join them together. You can join a half lap vertically or horizontally.

half lap joinery

Dividers require a vertical cut, like in the first drawing above. The trick with this type of half lap is to get the thickness of your stock to match the groove you have cut in the mating piece of wood. That way you just need to make one pass to cut your groove and the mating piece fits in without fuss.

A typical saw kerf is 1/8”, so I mill my stock to 1/8”, but if you have a large box or want thicker dividers, you can make them any size you like. I find it easiest to make a trial cut then mill my wood to fit that kerf. That way my wood is the exact size I need it to be. It is easier to do it this way than it is to mill my wood and then try to get the kerf the right size.

I start by cutting the correct number of dividers to length making them so they are snug in the box. It is easiest to do your sanding at this point, before the slots are cut.

Layout for half laps

The next step is to lay out where I want the cuts for the half laps. Sometimes I need a specific size, but usually I will simply decide how many squares I want and then divide the space into equal sections.

It can be tricky to get the divisions even so I use a handy trick. Find or make a sheet of paper with evenly spaced lines. It doesn’t matter how far apart they are as long as they are equidistant from one another. Then take your stock and lay it so that the two corners of the same long side are each lined up with one of the lines on your paper. Any lines in between are now equally spaced.

easy layout trick

For example, in the drawing above, I lined up one corner at the first line and the second corner at the third line. That leaves two lines in between. I make a mark at each of those two lines and my wood is divided into three equal segments. No math needed. If I wanted four sections I would slide the corner down to the next line.

Cut the half laps

Once I have my dividing lines marked, I take my stock to the table saw and set up a miter gauge with a sacrificial fence. Then I take some scrap of the same size and set the blade so it cuts exactly half way through the piece. Then I cut on each of my marks, ending up with a divider with one or more slots half way through. Those slots fit into the slots on the perpendicular dividers, making your joint.

cutting half lap

Once the slots are all cut, the dividers just slide them together. I find that if they are a good fit you don’t need glue, but a drop of super glue works well to hold everything in place.

finished dividers

Then I place the whole set in my box and I’m done.

box for chess pieces

Dividers don’t take a great deal of effort, but they add considerably to the box.

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