Introduction: Hole-in-the-Wall Spice Rack

I love to cook! Unfortunately, I have a very small kitchen. Because all my counter-top appliances, gadgets and spices take up a lot of space, I have to be clever about using the limited space I have. Over the years my spice collection has outgrown a conventional spice rack, plus, I don't have a wall to hang one on. Fortunately, I do have a wall that I can hang one in.

Initially, I was unsure if the wall between my kitchen and dining room would accommodate a recessed spice rack, so I drilled a one inch "peek-a-boo" hole behind my calendar and evaluated the hidden studs and electrical service behind the wallboard. I took some measurements and found nothing preventing the installation, so I began building the Hole-in-the-Wall Spice Rack. I designed my rack to hold 38 “Spice Islands” brand jars, the design can be scaled up or down to suit anyone’s kitchen.


table saw

drill press


1-7/8” Forstner drill bit

1/8” roundover router bit

6mm birch plywood

12mm birch plywood

1-1/4” sheetrock screws

1-5/8” sheetrock screws

#7 x 2-1/4” Deck Plus stainless steel trim screws

wood finish

Step 1: Hole Layout

Step 2: Best Way to Drill Large Diameter Holes in Wood

Two 12mm plywood panels about 12” x 20” were cut and screwed together in the waste margin to form an assembly. The hole placements were laid-out on the front panel and center-punched with an awl. Each mark was drilled with an 1/8” pilot hole that would guide the 1-7/8” Forstner bit. The best results were achieved by drilling the forstner bit ¼” deep in the back side of the assembly and then finishing the hole by drilling from the front side. This method ensured a hole with no wood tear-out on either side.

Step 3: Roundover the Edges

The assembly was then unscrewed and the holes on both sides of both panels were trimmed with a 1/8” radius roundover router bit. These radii gave the rack a pleasant appearance and help guide the jars into their holes.

Next, the two panels were cut to their final size. It's important to offset the panels so the holes are 1/16” lower in the rear panel relative to the front. This gives the jars a slight downward slant in the back to help keep them in place. It's important to that in mind when trimming the panels.

Step 4: Build the Box

With the front panels cut to size, it was time to build the five-sided box to hold them. I left enough clearance between the panels and box so I could easily assemble and disassemble the rack for the remaining steps.

I cut four 12mm thick x 3-7/8” wide boards. Two of them were nominally 10-3/4” long, the other two were nominally 19-3/4” long.

They were glued and screwed together in four places, a 6mm back panel was simply glued to the back of the box. A 6mm thick, 7/8” inch wide mitered frame was glued to the front of the box to finish it.

Step 5: Panel Spacers

Eight small pieces of wood were needed as spacers to hold the panels in position so they could be screwed to the box. Four 1-1/4” cubes were positioned between the box back and the rear panel. They were glued to the interior side of the back of the box and provided extra height so shorter screws could be used to hold the panel stack together. Four 1-1/4” x 1-1/4” x ¾” blocks float between the two panel. To simplify assembly, they could have been glued to the back of the front panel. I found it easiest to predrill the holes in the blocks and panels, and then glue the blocks as described. Apply pieces of cellophane tape anywhere you think glue may leak out, you don’t want any parts to be accidently glued together or you won’t be able to take the rack apart.

Step 6: Mount the Box in the Hole in the Wall

With the box in it’s final form it was ready to be fitted in the wall. The peek-a-boo hole I made in the wall was enlarged to accept the box. The exact hole placement was based on the location of the adjacent studs, build-out boards were added to create a mounting surface for the box. Four clearance holes, two on each side, were drilled in the box for sheetrock screws to hold the box in the wall.

Step 7: Finish the Wood

After demonstrating the parts could easily be assembled and disassembled, it was time to sand the wood and apply a finish. I chose a clear varnish to match my cabinets. Thinning the varnish with mineral spirits enabled me to wipe multiple thin coats of finish on the wood with a cloth. Applying thicker coats with a brush to all those holes would have created a lot of drip marks.

Step 8: Quick-read Labeling

I labeled the spice jar lids with 1/2” wide, white Brother P-Touch laminated tape. I chose a narrow font so I could cram a lot of letters into the limited space on the lid. After printing the labels, I trimmed them to length with a scissor and then “clipped” the ends with a curved fingernail clipper. I’ve found a slightly curved label ends appear more aesthetically pleasing than a 90 degree scissor-cut end on the small diameter lids.

Step 9: Functional and Attractive

I've used the Hole-In-The-Wall Spice Rack for over a year now. It’s very convenient to have all my spices just an arm's length from the stove. Because the spices are in the wall instead of in the cabinet, on the counter or on the wall, I have more room to store other kitchen items.

Fun fact: over one-third of my spices have names that begin with the letter "C".

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