Articles - Paint Drawer
08/27/2009
One day I was visiting the personal blog of Tim Warris of Fast Tracks. He built a drawer that could hold model paint bottles. Like a lot of us, he prefers to store the bottles upside down to prevent the paint from drying out. I had created a wall-hanging set of cabinets for storing our paint bottles. However, that design was based on the bottles sitting right side up. When I started storing the bottles upside down, they became top-heavy and could easily topple over. I have a set of cabinets that I built which contain storage space for all sorts of things. I simply found one drawer that was tall enough to hold the paint bottles. This page describes how I built the paint drawer storage rack.

The first photo shows the drawer in the background. I measured the inside dimensions of the drawer and subtracted 1/16 of an inch for clearance. I cut a piece of 1/2-inch thick MDF board to those dimensions. I used MDF, because that is what I had on hand. However, any sturdy sheet of wood will do. Realize, however, that once holes are drilled in it, the board becomes weaker, so it should be of sufficient thickness or properly supported. What I am doing in the photo is attaching blocks of wood which will hold the board some distance away from the bottom of the drawer. Our typical paint bottles come in two sizes. One is just under 1.5 inches in diameter and 2.5 inches tall, and the other is a bit smaller in diameter and 1-7/8" tall. So, the total height of the drawer storage rack needs to be such that the smaller bottle can still be grasped and lifted out. I made the blocks of wood 1-1/8" tall. Combined with the thickness of the MDF, the top surface of the board will therefore sit at 1-5/8.
Paint Drawer
I then drew a grid of lines evenly spaced across the top of the board. I wanted to leave 1/2" of space between the holes. I used a 1-1/2" Forstner bit in the drill press to drill each of those holes. I was able to get 10 holes across and 6 holes deep into this drawer. As you can see, there is more unused surface space on the long side facing the camera. There wasn't enough space for one more row of holes. However, that is good, because that prevents me from pulling the drawer all the way out of the cabinet just to see the last row of bottles. The large tube is from the dust collector, which is an absolute must with this kind of work. There is a tremendous amount of dust generated, and MDF in particular is not good to breathe in. It probably took me about an hour to drill all 60 holes.
Paint Drawer
And here is the final result. I flipped the board right side up with the "legs" down. The drawer is fully extended with all the holes showing. At first I had thought about gluing the storage rack to the drawer bottom, but it isn't going anywhere, and it allows me to pull it out should the need arise. This is our entire paint collection at this time, so there is room to grow. All in all, it took me about two hours to make this, including design work. I could easily make another one for another drawer when this one is full. I organized the paints by color. Having the bottom of the bottle showing makes it easy to see which bottle is which color.
Paint Drawer