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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Self Built Spice Rack

Even with my husband visiting family out of state over Labor Day, I know how to keep things spicy in our house.  Ha ha.  Actually, I've been dealing with this, since before we were married:


Keep in mind, this mess of a spice cupboard is four jars deep and four jars high.  There's one wire rack holding some of them, but needless to say, because I cook with herbs and spices a lot, there's always digging, things fall out and into the sink, there's no way to keep good order. 

We have 51 jars of herbs, spices, & special mixes with more on the way as I continue to grow new herb plants in the garden.  One of those cute little spice racks just won't cut it for us. 

And boy did I try! My first attempt, (no picture) was to make a spice shelf big enough to be mounted on both cabinet doors. This required me to reduce the depth of the two shelves on the inside to make room for the mounted shelves- staining new wood, drilling out new holes for the shelf supports and everything.

I was careful to buy wood the correct width of the half-pint jelly jars that I store my herbs & spices in.

I was careful to see how many jars I could fit across a shelf. 


I was careful enough to make sure to allow enough height to get the jar up and over the shelf rails that I inteded to add.


But alas.  I failed.  First, although I love working on my Gramma's old kitchen table, the top is all crooked.  I kept getting frustrated that all my measurements ended up being off by about 5/16th of an inch and then finally the lightbulb went off - even a slightly crooked work surface will yield an ever increasingly crooked finished project.  DUH!!  Even after straightening out the crookedness, the wood shelves were simply too heavy to be mounted on the cabinet doors.

Attempt #2 was to accept defeat.  We need an orderly cupboard and fast.  After two months of marriage, I was getting irritated that we still weren't "moved in" yet and living in chaos.  A copout was in order.  I'm quite not ashamed to admit it.  We bought two of these racks from the Closet Maid line:


Yea, it's pretty clear that these will not even come close to being able to hold all 51 of our spice jars but we could at least keep the wire ones mounted for other stuff, right?  Nope.

Extract jars would slip right out, the salt, starch, and boullon jars are all to big.  Back to the store they went.  Time for Plan C. 

I headed back to the Orange store determined to find new wood and somehow find a flat, level work surface.  Down the aisle from me was one of those Earth Mother type women looking for wood.  She just went right up to the rack, grabbed two boards and threw them in her cart. 

Even my 8 year old niece knows better than that.  You need to eye them to make sure they are straight!!! 

And readers, the thought of spending hours in the store looking for straight pieces of pine almost made me cry.  Better woods like oak and mahogony are far more reliable, but you pay by the FOOT.  And I needed a lot of footage.  Too rich for my blood.

Then I spotted MDF.  And, on impulse, I bought some "boards".  (If you're interested in MDF, I'll post my notes tomorrow. Do read before you buy.  There are definate pros and cons).

I loved working with the MDF!!   See how nice and straight it is.  Cutting was a dream!


The super smooth surface made painting a breeze.  I used some leftover egghsell from when I repainted the kitchen walls:


Assuming you measure carefully, assembly was a breeze!  You do have to use screws - coarse drywall screws, which I never would've guessed.  And you need to pre-drill the holes with a coutersink.  But that was a snap:



(I was still a little intimidated by the countersink.  You can see here that the screwheads were still a little too close to the surface.  I made this side the unseen side and did a better job on the side that would be seen).

But, oh, that crooked table!  It was while framing this attempt that I had my lightbulb moment.  I screwed in the right sides of all the shelf pieces then I decided to mount the frame before screwing in the left side, just so I could lay my level across each shelf and double check for accuracy.  Smart move!  You can see I also used L brackets across the top, bottom and middle shelves for added stability.


To keep the jars on the shelves, I made rails out of lath, painted to match.



And here's the finished product!  All 51 jars and room for a few more or for bigger pint jars.

I couldn't get a ful front picture - there's a bookshelf across from it.


I do need to redo my jar labels soon.  Some of them got covered by the lath. 


The Conductor was very impressed.  I didn't tell him that this would be my project so it was kind of serendipitous that he brought home a particular gift from my mother in law:

Onion garlic spice mix - too cool! 



9 comments:

The Dice Joint Fuzz said...

Very nice job! I like the exposed screws on the front. I bet it looks good in your kitchen.

Look forward to seeing you in a few weeks!

Revi said...

Great use of space! I love it when functionality can be good looking, too. :) That green is so vintage 1940's - looks great!
-Revi

The Single Nester said...

How awesome! My spices fall all over the place when I try to get to them!

linda @ Axiom at Home said...

Just skimming your blog and I am blown away with how talented you are. I was just talking to someone today about how I wished I would have learned to do more things with my hands growing up, like sewing, working on my house, things like that. Anyway, I know it's not too late to learn. :) Lovely blog, beautiful wedding, and awesome spice rack!

Caroline Phoenix said...

I love my sister! You are awesome.

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Nancy said...

Looks like it's perfect fit for your herbs and spices!! I have two lockers that I store mine in, so I understand your dilemna! :)

Beth said...

Wow. I have spice rack envy.

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