In my never-ending quest to find the best storage and organization solutions for everything aboard Summer Dance, the hardest storage problems are the smallest items. Big items like life jackets and sails aren’t hard to find places to store because there aren’t a lot of options. But finding a home for little items like pens, pencils, keys, digital memory cards, maps, and registration paperwork can be tough. They need to be readily accessible yet securely stowed and water resistant. There aren’t a lot of options. Waitaminnit, didn’t I say that already?
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The traditional option for small item storage has been a teak drawer unit from that popular online Catalina parts retailer. It matches the other cabinetry in the cabin and it’s made to fit under the dinette table. Now, I like teak woodwork as much as the next guy but that drawer doesn’t seem like the best option to me.
You can buy that heavy, knee-knocking, wooden box for around $150, wait for it to be built for your order, and then saw your expensive table leg off to make room for it. If you later decide you want your knee room back because nobody wants to sit (or can fit) under the table anymore, you have to buy a new table leg because your old one is now too short.
Or you can buy the inexpensive, feather-light, stealthy, Add-A-Drawer Kit model 814 by Smart Solutions. It won’t hold as much junk as the big teak drawer but you don’t have to modify your dinette table for it either. And remember, all the weight you add to your dinette table with that wooden box and everything you put it in, you have to lift up and down whenever you want to raise or lower the table to make the port berth.
The Add-A-Drawer model 814 measures 8” x 17” x 2”, which fits neatly on either side of the folding leg of the Catalina 22 dinette table. It has a little pencil tray in front and the remainder of the space is enough to hold your most critical items.
The drawer and its slides are shallow enough to leave knee room for average size sailors. I’m 5′-8″ tall and have 1″-2″ of air space when I sit under it. A teak drawer would be torture, on the other hand. The slides have two slots in them, a lower set for tables that have an overhanging lip and a higher set for tables without a lip.
The Add-A-Drawer is made of molded plastic and only weighs ounces when empty. Install two kits, one on each side of the table leg, for twice the storage.
This is one of the few projects on this site for which you don’t need to make anything. The Add-A-Drawer kit comes with everything you need except a drill and a screwdriver to install it. The instructions are so simple that there is no instruction sheet in the box.
All four steps are printed right on the back of the box:
- Assemble the drawer in the slides with the included rubber band to hold them together.
- Place the drawer assembly on the surface where you want to mount the drawer.
- Mark the hole locations and drill pilot holes.
- Screw the slides in place with the included screws and remove the rubber band.
DIY doesn’t get much easier than that.
I like this little drawer. It puts small items in a handy location that is accessible from almost anywhere inside the cabin or just a step away from the cockpit. The only thing that I’m disappointed with is its “self-locking” feature, which doesn’t work so well. Pulling the drawer open with normal force easily pulls it completely out of the slides so you have to be careful about that. I’ll be looking for a place to drive in a stop screw to prevent it.
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