Introduction: Laser Cut Spice Rack
I built a laser cut spice rack for my apartment's kitchen. Now, the spices are all right there next to the stove whenever we're cooking, and we don't have to constantly go to the upper cabinet where we used to keep our spices. In this tutorial, I will walk you through all the steps to make and mount your very own DIY spice rack.
First things first, you will need a file for your laser cutter. I have provided and ai file (for Adobe Illustrator, which is the graphics design program I use) and also a pdf version of the design that is accepted by most design platforms. Please download whichever one fits your laser software better.
Step 1: Gathering Your Tools and Materials
This tutorial assumes you have access to and operator's knowledge of a CNC lasercutter. As each machine's software and interface are drastically different, I'll have to assume that you know how to operate the laser cutter you will be using. The laser I used accepts illustrator files, which is why I uploaded the design as an .ai file. However, I also uploaded the .pdf for people who use a different software. Open the .pdf file in your laser's software, as pdf's are very standard file types and should be accepted by your laser's software.
A hand held drill, either battery powered or corded will work. You will also need a small drill bit (around 1/16" will do) and a drill bit that matches the diameter of your dry wall mounts (1/4" worked for me).
A screwdriver or a philips head bit for your drill.
Wood glue: I used Elmers wood glue, but any wood glue will suffice. You can probably also get away with using super glue or epoxy, but wood glue will yeild the best results. You can get a bottle for just a few dollars at your local hardware store, or even Walmart.
You'll need a a piece of 1/8" plywood (12"x15" will do). I used a small sheet of birch plywood I procured from my local supplier for just a few bucks.
You will need two screws with complimenting dry wall mounts. See the fourth picture above for a photo of the dry wall mount and screw I used, as well as the drill bit that was the same size as the drywall mount. You can get a whole box of dry wall mounts for about 5 dollars at your local hardware store.
Wood stain: optional but recommended.
Step 2: Laser Cutting the Pieces Out
I used a Universal Systems Laser Cutter. It has a materials data base in which you select materials and the machine then knows what power/speed/ppi settings to use. I used the material 'general medium woods' and set the thickness to .120 (using my calipers). I will have to assume for this part that you know how to use your own laser cutter, because they vary significantly from model to model.
Cut out all the pieces and bring them over to a workbench with your wood glue.
Step 3: Assembling the Pieces
First, we will apply some wood glue to the fingers on the back of the base. Join the base with the backboard, as shown in the second through fourth images above. While the glue is still wet, insert the middle divider. You will have to let the back piece bend back a little bit to fit this piece in, then pull the back piece back into place. You should have something like picture 5.
Now, put some wood glue on the edges of the base and back pieces, and put on the two end pieces. After this step, your model should mirror the seventh image above. Lastly, we are going to glue on the gaurd rail so your spices won't fall out. Add a dab of wood glue to the cutout in each divider/end piece, and put in the gaurd rail piece.
Once all the pieces are put together with glue, grab a few of your quick release clamps, or rubber bands, and use them to hold the model together while the glue dries. After an hour or so, the glue will have dried enough for you to handle the model, but wait 24 hours for a full cure before putting any stress on the model.
Step 4: Staining the Wood
After the glue has dried, bring your model to a well-ventilated area, along with your choice of wood stain. I used a fume hood in my workshop that people use to spray paint and what not. I would also recommend wearing some latex gloves or something, because if you get any stain on your hands it is hard to wash off.
After you have set up, get a paint brush or paper towel and dip it in the stain. Gently wipe it onto the surfaces of the spice rack. Leave the model in its well-ventilated area for a few hours to dry.
Next, we will mount the model to the wall near out stove.
Side note: the particular stain I used is called dark walnut. I got it at Ace Hardware for under 10 bucks.
Step 5: How to Set Up the Dry Wall Mounts
The idea for these types of screws is that you drill a hole for the plastic piece, then screw the metal screw into the plastic piece, causing the plastic piece to expand into the dry wall and lock it into place. It's much better than just using a standard screw into drywall, due to the crumbliness of drywall.
To start, position your spice rack where you want it to be, and use a pencil to lightely make two X's where the holes in the spice rack are. These are the spots where you will drill into the wall. First, get out your drill and a very small drill bit. We will use this to make a pilot hole so that our hole is right on point, as larger bits can wander a bit before catching, causing your hole to be off center.
Insert the small bit into your drill, and drill into the drywall. After this pilot hole is set up, swap the bit out for the larger one. Make sure the larger one is the same size as the plastic piece from the dry wall mount. Drill out the larger hole, expanding the hole to be large enough for the plastic piece to fit in.
Next, press the plastic piece in until it is roughly flush with the wall. Insert the metal screw, and screw it in almost all the way. You will want to leave about 1/8" of screw left visible, which will be what the spice rack slots onto.
Step 6: Mounting the Spice Rack
After you have set up the dry wall mounts, stick the head of the screw through the larger circle in the spice rack corners. Then, slide the spice rack down, locking it into place. If you ever need to remove the spice rack, you can just slide the spice rack up and pull it off the head of the screw.
After its mounted, you can load it up with all your spices. If you need more spice space, you can easily make a second or third one and mount them right above each other.
There you have it, the spice rack is done! It fits my spices perfectly. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. If you would like to see similar DIY home improvement projects, check out my profile. Also, if you have any questions about this project or ideas for similar ones, I'd love to hear them so feel free to leave a comment.
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