Building a Custom Spice Rack

August 13, 2012 | by Ethan (email) |

A lot of my woodworking projects start with Jocie coming to me and saying, “Can you make me one of these?”. That’s how this owl and these owls came to be. Let’s not forget about the elephant or the barrette holder, and, more recently, the planter box. So it came as no surprise when she started showing me pictures of spice racks on Pinterest that I had another item on my todo list.

Jocie’s been giving our kitchen a makeover, and as part of that, she wanted a small shelving unit for holding spices, oil, vanilla and other kitchen-y things. She gave me a sketch and rough dimensions (32″ x 20″), and I got to work.

I had some spare 3/4″ plywood in the shop, and I cut several pieces for the frame.

I also had some 1/4″ plywood that I used for the shelves. In hindsight, I should have just made everything from 3/4″ ply. It would have been sturdier and look a little more uniform.

I routed rabbets at the corners of the frame because I didn’t feel confident that butt joints would stay put.

I glued and finish nailed the frame together, working to keep everything square and tight.

Next, I cut small support blocks and glued and nailed them in place. If I had used 3/4″ ply, these blocks wouldn’t have been necessary, giving the shelves a cleaner look in the end. I’ll keep that in mind for the next spice rack I build.

I glued the 1/4″ ply to the support blocks and used my extensive collection of batteries to weigh the shelves down while the glue dried.

The face frame was the most challenging part and purchasing a pocket hole jig would have been a smart move. Instead, I glued, stapled and sometimes pin-nailed all the joints. I made the face frame from 1 x 2 poplar and some scrap oak. Since the shelf was going to be painted, I could mix and match wood types, and I didn’t have to worry about orienting the grain of the wood.

I used some wood filler to clean up a few gaps, and I was pleased with how the face framed turned out.

Jocie had special plans for the backing so I didn’t attach that right away. After her work was done, I drove some screws and tiny finish nails into the 3/4″ plywood. I opted for a few screws because I knew that I’d be attaching this shelf directly to the wall.

Jocie painted and “decorated” the spice rack before I hung it on the wall. She also picked up a few bottles and jars from IKEA. To get the full story and see the finished product, click-through to her post.

13 Responses
  1. “I routed rabbets at the corners of the frame…” Handheld router or dado stack in the table saw? I need a stack for my TS, if you used one I was going to ask what brand and if you liked it.

  2. Icarus says:

    So you had more of an idea than a plan when starting this one out?

    • Ethan says:

      Hey Icarus, that’s usually how these projects go. I try to “catch the vision” of whatever Jocie wants me to make. Sometimes not having much on paper can really backfire on me.

  3. Reuben says:

    nice work. that’s one heck of a spice rack. You’ll be able to hold some substantial spices on that thing!

    • Ethan says:

      It looks good up on the wall, and I’m pleased that Jocie likes it. I feel like it could have been better (like using pocket hole screws). Even so, I’m proud of the finished product.

  4. trebor says:

    The face turned out really well. I think it looks good.

    Also, love the battery weigh-down shot 🙂

    • Ethan says:

      I don’t have nearly enough clamps to hold all those pieces in place so I used what was around. I never have a shortage of batteries….

  5. poiboybf says:

    Pockethole jig… so worth it. Makes every job (well, face frames anyway) cleaner looking, squarer, and tighter. Highly recommend the Kreg. Best 100 dollars (or thereabouts) that you’ll spend.

  6. JustME says:

    Great tutorial Ethan. Thanks to you I might finally get the picture frame that my hubby cut for me months ago put together. I planned on getting those little wiggly things that you tap across the mitered corners, but always forgot. Glue, staples and a little pin nails I have on hand. Thanks!

  7. Chris says:

    The spice rack came out great. Makes me really wish I had room for more woodworking tools.

  8. HANDYMAN51 says:

    Very creative use of what you had on hand. Your wife doesn’t give you a ” Honey Do List”. She gives you a ” Honey Do BOOK!”. Women everywhere will begin to put this in wedding vows.

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