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Blog archives: March 2011

Media Organizer Step-by-Step

I promised to some of you to put together the step-by-step directions for building a media organizer like mine. Please refer to my previous post for images and description of the unit. Following are detailed instructions on how to build it.


  • 6 sheets of  foam board 30" x 40" x 3/16" thick
  • 1 piece of plexiglass (clear acrylic) 12" x 24" x 1/8" thick (0.125")
  • glue gun, acrylic cutting knife
  • white artist tape
  • non-slip liner (optional)


  1. Cut the foam board
  2. Build the main structure
  3. Build the trays
  4. Cut and glue the plexiglass
  5. Cut non-slip liners to size (optional)


Use the four drawings below as guidelines. The white areas represent all the foam board pieces that you'll need for this project, while the gray areas are the left-overs. Remember that if you use smaller foam boards (20" x 30") you will have a lot more waste. Be very precise when you measure, draw, and cut your pieces.

Each drawing is a scaled representation of a 30" x 40" foam board. Drawing A needs to be repeated on three separate foam boards. Drawings B, C, and D are only used one time each (six boards total).

The media organizer is composed of two parts:

  • the main structure, made of 15 shelves, two sides, and one back
  • 14 removable trays, each one made of one bottom, one back, two sides, and a plexiglass front

Main structure dimensions:

  • 15 shelves: 22 3/4" wide x 7 3/4" each
  • 2 sides: 15 3/4" high x 7 3/4" each
  • 1 back: 15 3/4" high x 23 1/8"

Trays dimensions:

  • 14 bottoms: 22 1/4" x 7 1/2" each
  • 14 backs: 22 1/4" x 11/16" each
  • 28 sides: 7 1/2" x 1/2" each

Drawing ADrawing B


Drawing CDrawing D



This is the most challenging part of the project. I hope that by explaining how I did it, I can make it a little easier for you.

First you need to draw on both sides and on the back of the main structure the guidelines for the shelves.

Please note that the 15 shelves are a little less than one inch apart from each other. Sorry, I don't have the measurements for this step; you'll have to do the math.

When you have all your guidelines drawn, you can start gluing.

Gluing technique:

  • place a strand of glue at the seam where the two surfaces meet
  • do not place the glue directly on the foam of the board - the heat will melt the foam
  • hold the foam board pieces in place until the glue cools down and feels solid

Begin by gluing together the two sides onto the back of the main structure. Then move on to the shelves.

Proceed by gluing one shelf at a time. Make sure the shelf is in the right position. Place your glue strands on the three seams. Wait for the glue to cool down and move on to the next shelf until you are finished. Remember to place the glue only on the top side of the shelves, not the bottom (see picture #1 and #2).

Picture #1: Main Structure Close-upPicture #2: Main Structure



Glue the back of each tray to the bottom. Then glue the two sides over the bottom. See pictures #3 and #4.

Picture #3: Tray Side ViewPicture #4: Tray Top View



Do not remove the protective film from the plexiglass. You need 14 strips, each measuring 22 1/4" x 11/16". Draw your guidelines directly on the film.

If you have never cut plexiglass before, please practice a little before cutting the strips. I use the "score and snap method" with this type of knife.

When you glue a plexiglass strip to a tray, it will look as in picture #5 where the glue is completely visible. I hid the glue with white artist tape for aesthetic reasons (picture #6).

Picture #5: Tray Front Showing the GluePicture #6: Tray Front with Tape



This is an optional step but I highly recommend it. I purchased the non-slip liner from my local home improvement store. It keeps pencils and other media from rolling even if the tray is on a slant (see pictures #7 and #8). The measurements of each liner are: 21 3/4'' x 7 1/4''.

Picture #7: Tray with LinerPicture #8: Close-up


Last but not least, turn your main structure upside-down so that the glue strands of the shelves are on the top, not on the bottom of the slots. This way there's no interference with the sliding of the trays.

After filling your trays with colorful media, from pencils to crayons and pastels, you can place them inside their slots (picture #9 and #10). Now you can finally enjoy your creation.

Let me know if this was helpful. Feel free to ask any questions along the way.

Picture #9: Media OrganizerPicture #10: Trays Pulled Out



My Art Studio: New Media Organizer

Everybody has a different way to relax; mine is to build something with my hands. That's how this new media organizer came about. My previous one was old and frail and after five years of daily use I could definitely envision a much improved model. I spent a full day planning, cutting, gluing and I'm very pleased with the results.

Media OrganizerFront ViewClose-up


My media organizer is a shelf unit with 14 movable trays where I store all my wax-based drawing media (colored pencils, artist crayons, and oil pastels). I place it on top of my taboret right by my desk .

One of its best feature is the plexiglass on the front of each tray. It lets you get a clear view of what's inside without having to pull the tray out.

Trays Pulled OutTwo Trays OutTop View


The trays can be pulled out together for complete accessibility of media or individually. They are deep enough that they can hang from the unit without falling.

Colored Pencil TraysArtist Crayon TrayOil Pastel Tray


Sometimes I prefer to place several trays directly on the desk. I usually do this when I select the main colors of my drawing.

Empty TraySide ViewClose-up


Tray dimensions:
bottom - 22 1/4" x 7 1/2"
back - 22 1/4" x 11/16"
sides - 7 1/2" x 1/2"
plexiglass front - 22 1/4" x 11/16"
non-slip liner - 21 3/4" x 7 1/4"

Structure dimensions:
15 shelves - 22 3/4" x 7 3/4"
sides - 15 3/4" (high) x 7 3/4"
back - 15 3/4" (high) x 23 1/8" (corrected - was 22 3/4")

Materials: foam board (3/16" thick), plexiglass (the thinnest you can find), non-slip liner, and a glue gun.

Having my media accessible and organized makes my workflow so much more fluid. I can concentrate on my art and don't have to waste time looking for things.

Feel free to ask questions if you need more clarifications.

Edit (2/27/2011): for step-by-step instructions visit this blog post.