A spice rack with room for sauces, oils and vinegars.
I'm not sure how many containers of cayenne we had before I made this rack. With all of our spices jumbled in a drawer, it was hard to know what to put on the shopping list without an all-out search. And it's not just for spices--our balsamic used to tip over and hide behind the tamari in the back of the top cabinet. No longer! Everything is easy to reach, easy to find, and easy to put away. *And* it looks cool.
I'm not sure why, but I hate the look of dowels, but tiny little containers on a shelf need something to hold them in. I love the look of steel with wood, though, and the wire with turnbuckles gives this piece an industrial look without being bulky or overbearing.
I scored major points with the cook in our house when I made this.
Step 1: Step 1: Reclaim Some Wood and Gather Your Materials
Old wood is all over the place. It's in dumpsters, in attics, in half-broken furniture and at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I bought this wood, but I think I paid less than $5 for it. Since then I've found similar boards in the rafters of my workshop.
This wood was filthy, so I spent an evening cleaning it off by sanding it with coarse (60 grit) sandpaper. There are a couple of before and after photos above.
I also needed a back (I decided to go with some mesh I found in a dumpster on a construction site; I think it's used to give substance to concrete), some wire, some turnbuckles, a pocket screw jig, some shiny steel washers, and finish.
Step 2: Step 2: Figure Out the Details
I had a space that was about 4 feet wide and empty from floor to ceiling. I wanted something big enough to hold a lot of spices, but have all of it within easy reach (no squatting or standing on tiptoes).
My method for figuring out dimensions was very scientific: I stood in front of the destination wall with a tape measure and eyeballed it. I am pleased that it fit the space so well.
Step 3: Step 3: Cut and Connect
I used 1x4's, and I cut two 4 foot lengths and six 2 foot lengths. This was pretty much all the usable wood I had gathered, so it worked out nicely.
The top 3 shelves have 6" clearance between them, which allows for 2" of wire fencing, and 4" to be able to pull the spice up and over the fence without having to turn it on its side. The bottom two are larger to allow for bottles vinegar, oil, sriracha, soy sauce, etc.
Pick out one of the nicer looking boards to be the top board. Since it won't be covered in spices you'll want one that looks good.. Before attaching it to the sides, go ahead and attach your L-brackets (I used 2 for each, 4 total) on that board and one that will be your bottom board. I waited until after I had the frame put together and it was a pain, since I didn't have a screw driver short enough to fit between the panels and my drill certainly wouldn't fit. Make sure you drill pilot holes (a hole about the size and depth of the screw you plan to use) before screwing them in; this will prevent the wood from splitting.
Get out your pocket screw jig and prep your shelves on each end. You'll want to go with the less attractive side, as the pocket screws will be on the under side of the shelves. You don't have to do anything to prep the boards you'll use for the sides. I really recommend using pocket screws because they're dead easy and make a very strong joint. I used a Kreg R3 jig because that's what I could afford; they have one cheaper model that goes for about $20. Put 2 pockets on each end of each shelf (on the same face of the board).
Measure out your placements on both side boards and attach the shelf boards. Remember to keep the pockets all facing the same direction (toward the floor).
Step 4: Step 4: Drill Holes and Finish the Wood
Go ahead and drill the holes for your wire fence to pass through. You'll need 2 holes on each side close to the front of the shelf. I used a drill bit that was the same diameter as the hole in the washers and I put the hole about 3/4" from the front of the shelf. Make the first hole 1" above the shelf, and the second one 1" above that. For the bottom shelves you can have 4 wire rails, each 1" apart. It's easier to do even numbers of rails, so you can make the wire a loop and not have to go through any of the holes more than once.
Now you can apply finish. I used Danish oil, which was easy and made a rich color without adding shine or weird texture to the wood. Just wipe it on with a rag, then back off again in about an hour. I had hardly any come off when I wiped it down after applying.
Step 5: Step 5: the Wire Fence (a.k.a. the Cool Part)
The washers go on the outside of the holes, to keep the wire from cutting into the wood. If I had to do it again, I would superglue the washers around the holes. As it was I let the tension of the wire hold the washers on, so they kept slipping until I got it tight. You'll want to cut the wire to approximate length before proceeding, twice the width of the shelf for a 2-rail fence, 4 times for a 4-rail fence.
Adjust the turnbuckles to be at their longest, make a big loop with the wire through the holes, and attach one end of the wire to the turnbuckle by pulling it through one side twisting it around itself. Pull the other end of the wire tight to the turnbuckle and attach it similarly. Now turn the center of the turnbuckle so that the tension of the wire increases and it looks nice and straight.
Step 6: Step 6: Attach the Backing
If you decide to go with mesh, chicken wire or screen (I suggest a nice silvery color to go with the wire fence), attaching is easy. Use a staple gun, like I did. If you want to use some kind of thin board backing, tiny brad nails around the perimeter should do nicely. The L-brackets will be holding the rack to the wall, and the screws will go through the backing so I wouldn't be horribly concerned about fastening it tightly.
Get your tin snips or wire cutters (tin snips go quicker because they're slightly more like scissors) and trim to the edge of the rack, so that none of the bits are poking past the edges.
You are ready for instillation!
Step 7: Step 7: Install and Populate
A helper is handy for this step.
Hold the rack in place--I like to use a level for this step--and mark where each L-bracket is on the wall. I use an automatic center punch for this. It's easy and it leaves a little divot for your drill bit to rest in. If you used a solid back you will want to pre-drill holes for the screws to pass through from the L-brackets on their way to the wall.
If you are installing it on drywall, use drywall anchors. I usually use the biggest ones I have because I don't know how much the rack will weigh when it's full and I'm clumsy so you never know when I might trip and have to grab onto the nearest thing to keep from falling. Since you have 4 points of attachment, and one would hope the weight of the rack is relatively evenly distributed among those, anchors rated for 25 pounds or more should be sufficient. Resident physicists please feel free to correct me in the comments.
Distribute your spices and sauces as you so desire, and have fun cooking!