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How to Build Kitchen Improvements

How to Build a Spice Rack

Build the rack to accommodate your spice containers; an 18-inch rack holds 12 standard spice cans, 2 1/2 inches deep. Use 1/4-inch dowel for a retaining strip across the front of the rack; add brass hangers at the top of the back panel.

Even if you search long and hard, you may never be able to find a spice rack to suit you. This rack is both easy to make and inexpensive.

Tools: ­


  • Measuring rule
  • Pencil
  • Straightedge
  • Carpenters' square
  • Handsaw or saber saw
  • Drill with 1/4-inch bit
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Screwdriver
  • Paintbrush
  • 3/8-inch grade A-B or furniture-grade plywood
  • Piece of 1/4-inch dowel
  • Hide glue
  • 1-inch brads
  • Small brass hangers
  • Plastic wood
  • Medium- and fine-grit sandpaper
  • Stain or paint

Time: 1 to 11/2 hours, plus finishing time

Plan the spice rack to fit your containers -- standard spice cans are 21/2 inches deep, and an 18-inch rack holds 12 standard cans. Line up the tins or bottles you want to display and measure them for the length, height, and depth the rack should be. Use 3/8-inch grade A-B or furniture-grade plywood for a professional finish.

Cutting the Wood

To make the rack, use your measured dimensions. Measure and mark the bottom panel on a piece of plywood, with the grain running the length of the shelf; use a carpenters' square and a straightedge to keep your marks even. Cut the panel out carefully with a handsaw or a saber saw. Measure and mark the two side pieces of the rack, exactly as wide as the bottom piece and high enough to accommodate the spice containers, either square or rectangular. Cut the side pieces carefully, making sure that their corners are square and that the two pieces are exactly alike.

Drill a 1/4-inch hole at one corner of one of the side pieces, evenly spaced from the two sides of the corner. Set this piece on top of the other side piece and use it as a template to mark a matching hole. Carefully drill a 1/4-inch hole through the second side piece so that it exactly matches the first one. The corners with the drilled holes are the top front corners of the side pieces.

Measure and mark a plywood back panel 1/4 inch longer than the bottom piece and 3 to 5 inches higher than the side pieces; cut it out carefully. With the back panel laid flat, butt the back edge of one side piece against one side of the back panel, with the bottom edge of the side piece flush with the bottom edge of the back. Carefully outline the back edge of the side piece on the back panel; this outlined area will be cut out so that the side piece fits smoothly into the side of the back piece. Repeat this procedure to outline the other side piece on the back. Then, being careful to cut within the traced outlines, cut out the marked corners of the back piece. Finally, measure and cut a piece of 1/4-inch dowel to the exact length of the untrimmed top of the back piece.

Assembling the Spice Rack

To assemble the spice rack, apply hide glue to the cutout edges, on one notched side of the back panel. Fit a side piece into the notch, with the drilled hole at the opposite top corner and the edges of the side piece flush with the back face and bottom edge of the back panel. Secure the side piece with several 1-inch brads driven through the side and into the edge of the back panel; use a nail set to sink the heads of the brads below the surface of the wood.

Apply a drop or two of hide glue around one end of the dowel, on the turned surface and not on the cut end. Insert the glued end of the dowel into the hole in the side piece, pushing it from the inside out, so that the end of the dowel is flush with the outside face of the side piece. Apply a drop or two of hide glue to the other end of the dowel and insert it into the drilled hole in the unattached side piece, from the inside face out. Then, holding the dowel in place, quickly glue and nail the second side piece into place. Sink the nailheads with a nail set.

Apply hide glue sparingly to three cut edges of the bottom panel and slide it into place, butted firmly between the side pieces and against the back of the rack. Nail the bottom piece firmly into place with brads driven through the back into the edges of the side pieces and through the side pieces into the ends of the bottom piece.

Completing the Spice Rack

To complete the rack, attach small brass hangers to the upper rear edge of the back with the screws provided. Fill nail holes and imperfections with plastic wood, and sand the rack as necessary with medium- and fine-grit sandpaper. Stain or paint the rack as desired.

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