A utilitarian kitchen utensil holder that’s easy on the eyes

I hate fighting with my better half over kitchen stuff. Take this utensil holder for example.

P76-BEFORE Utensil Holder-Closeup-CLUTTERED view

See how it’s crammed full of spatulas, ladles, spoons, spoons and a spoon with a hole in it? That’s about half of what we’d like to have at hand. But noooooo. That circular ceramic holder just doesn’t have the real estate. And its enclosing circumference has the added frustration of packing the rubber utensil handles together. So that when you try to ease one out, it pulls the others out with it. Then there’s the slick bottom. It’s no good as a stop to prevent anything else around it from slip-sliding hither and yon.

P6-BEFORE Utensil Holder-Side view

So after the latest utensil-spill-that-triggered-an-adjacent-cutting-board-avalanche-into-the-knives, I resolved to build a utensil holder that even my lady wouldn’t mind having in the kitchen.

The available space was tailor made for a rectangular container…with two dividers to make three compartments. One for spoons, one for spatulas and one for…what look like surgical tools and such.

So I gathered up some pine boards, which, of course, weren’t wide enough to give me the desired 6 5/8” of height I sought. You see, if the sides were too low, then utensils would splay all over like petals on a wilted flower. Since that would defeat the purpose of a compact holder, I opted instead to add a 1.5” wide border. What a perfect opportunity to add a nice contrasting hardwood. I set out the options of walnut, red oak, mahogany or cumaru (a Brazilian legume tree) for my lady to view. She went with the latter I suspect because of its reddish hue and beautiful grain.

Pretty though cumaru may be, it sure is a bear to work with in a hand-tool shop. It’s damn hard. Not unlike hickory, which makes it difficult to do anything with it except look at it. It also has some funky grain, which promotes nasty tear out no matter which direction I plane it.

To build it I rabbeted the ends being sure to drill 1/8” holes to accept brass rod “dowels” to reinforce the joinery. The plywood bottom and dividers seated into grooves routed to house them. I stop-dadoed the grooves for the dividers short of the hardwood border to maintain a cleaner look.

After glue-up and finishing, I cut rubber shelf-liner bottoms for each section and epoxied rubber bumpers to the bottom. Final outside dimensions: 14” long x 6 5/8” high x 5 ½” wide. Dividers roughly placed to yield two 4 ½” and one 3” compartments.

P5-Utensil Holder-Top view

The finished product passed Gail’s inspection…

P1-Utensile Holder Project Picture


P2-Utensil Holder-Side view

P3-Utensil Holder-Top view

…and it found a new home atop our counter.

P8-Utensil Holder-Filled for use view

It has room for all the utensils we use. Plus, with the rubber bumpers, it doesn’t slide around, which means it acts like a bookend to keep the cutting boards to the left in check. And it doesn’t bother the knife neighbors either. In fact, it works so well that we’ve stopped arguing over which utensil to put out, or why I knocked this or that over. Such is the power of wood to promote harmony in our house.



About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
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5 Responses to A utilitarian kitchen utensil holder that’s easy on the eyes

  1. José Santiago says:

    Bravo! Nicely done.

  2. rodtermaat says:

    Looks great. Now you need to get rid of that plastic and carve your own spoons to fill up the container. I may have to build one myself. rod

    • Rod, it’s interesting that you mention the carving of spoons. I’ve completed my first one and am working on the second. I was surprised to discover how much fun it is. Lots of different skills needed and it’s fantastic practice. Stay tuned 🙂

  3. Jeff Branch says:

    We have the same problem in our kitchen. Looks like a nice quick project I could use. Nice looking with the contrasting wood.

    • Jeff, the rubber bumpers have worked perfectly to keep things from shifting. The adjacent cutting boards don’t fall over any more. But best of all, my lady is looking forward to clearing out a drawer of utensils that have languished due to countertop space limitations.

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