Magnetic Spice Rack

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Introduction: Magnetic Spice Rack

About: I'm just a guy that knows stuff about things.

I love to cook and, as such, I have a huge collection of spices.  About a year ago I got tired of having to dig through my pile of spice jars to find the one I was looking for, so I decided to change it up.  Pulling some inspiration from Alton Brown and some commercial products that I'd seen I settled on a magnetic spice rack.  In looking around it would seem that I'm not the only one that came to this solution.  In fact, there's even another Instructable on the same topic.

Step 1: Equipment and Supplies

To do this project you're going to need some supplies and equipment.

4 oz Round Clear Top Tins [Pic 1]
1/4" x 1/16" Neodymium Magnets (3 per tin) [Pic 2]
Paper Work Surface
JB Weld (or Other Epoxy)
Toothpicks
Paper for Mixing Epoxy
100 Grit Sandpaper (or Similar)
Damp Paper Towel
Label Maker
Pocket Knife Tweezers [Pic 4]

Step 2: Preparing the Tins

Okay, to get started on the assembly we'll start by prepping the tins.

1) Start with a clean tin.  You want them free of oils and other debris so clean if necessary. [Pic 1]
2) Rough the back of each tin with the sandpaper.  You don't have to get the entire back sanded, you just want to add some texture for the JB Weld to stick to. [Pic 2]
3) Wipe the sanded tins on the damp paper towel to remove the dust. [Pic 3]
4) Let the tins dry briefly so any remaining moisture can evaporate. [Pic 4]

Step 3: Applying the Magnets

With the tins prepped it's time to affix the magnets.

1) Apply equal parts of the JB Weld Steel (black) and Hardener (gray) to your mixing surface. [Pic 1]
2) Mix the epoxy with a toothpick until it is a consistently colored paste. [Pic 2]
3) Apply three small dabs of the epoxy about the size of a sesame seed on the back of the tin using the tip of a toothpick.  This seems like too little epoxy at first but it is plenty to keep the magnets affixed. Also, the JB Weld is magnetic.  So, if you add too much it will crawl up the side of the magnet and begin to coat the top.  If this happens wipe the excess off with the damp paper towel. [Pic 3]
4) Using the tweezers pick up a single magnet. [Pic 4]
5) Apply the magnet to the dab of epoxy.  Make sure your aim is true.  Since the tins are metal they'll attract the magnets as you get close. [Pic 5]
6) Repeat for each of the tins you're making. [Pic 6]

Allow the JB Weld to cure for 24 hours before you continue with the rest of the steps.


Step 4: Labeling the Tins

Now that the epoxy is dry you can label the tins, fill them up and stick them to a metal surface.  For the labels I used a label maker loaded with clear labels with black ink. [Pic 1]  I find that these look the cleanest when applied to the tins.  You could certainly use any other label you like or simply write directly on the tins.  On that note, you definitely need to label the tins.  Once you get them up it's very hard to tell the difference between some of them, especially the leafy herbs.

Finally, when you're applying the labels make sure you place them with the top of the letters facing the bottom of the tin. [Pic 2]  That way when they're stuck on the metal surface you can read them easily from the top.

Step 5: Finished Spice Rack

For my spice rack I decided to stick all the tins to the front of my refrigerator.  There is room for 70 tins; 80 if I cram them a touch closer.  With the neodymium magnets they don't budge a bit when you open or close the door, no matter how hard you try.

Instead of your refrigerator door you could also stick them to a sheet of tin hung from the wall, strips of metal affixed to the inside of your cabinet doors or a magnetic whiteboard.

Step 6: Final Thoughts

Lastly, some tips and pitfalls from someone who's on version 2.0 of this idea.

Tins - There are quite a few different options for tins available.  There are both round and square versions and you can also pick various sizes.  For the size I've found that 4oz tins work best.  First, these tins are compact which maximizes the number you can pack in a space.  Second, they hold nearly the exact amount of contents that are included in a commercial spice jar.  Finally, buy a few extras in case you have some get badly dented.

Magnets - Speaking of dented tins let me give a bit of an explanation as to why this is version 2.0.  When I first did this project I used regular strength magnet tape that I was able to buy in a huge roll.  It was much simpler to apply to the tins but the pull force was much less.  What ended up happening is that heavier contents, salt for example, would slide down the refrigerator.  Also, if a tin was bumped it would fall, often taking others with it.  I'm betting I'll never get all of that Old Bay from under my refrigerator. [Pic 1]  That said, there is an option if you'd prefer to take the magnet tape route; use high energy magnet tape.  This product has double the pull strength of standard tape and should hold much better.

As for neodymium magnets there are lots of options.  I think the ones I chose for this project work great.  They easily support even the heaviest load (my test was a tin full of large crystal sea salt).  However, since I've only used three you can tip the tins and pull them right off without a problem.  If you're looking for another option instead of epoxy you could also try the self adhesive discs that K&J Magnetics offers.

Bulk Production - When I first re-did my spice rack for version 2.0 I processed 65 tins in one go. [Pic 2]  Some quick pointers for working with this many.  First, do one step at a time to every tin.  For example, sand every tin, then wipe every tin, etc.  To manage the JB Weld a little easier I used a dixie cup to mix it in.  Another note on the JB Weld, make sure you move fairly quickly.  It took me about 45 minutes to glue all the tins and the JB Weld was beginning to get fairly viscous by the time I finished.

3 People Made This Project!

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186 Discussions

I built this and have been using these for about a year now. I love them, and have had a lot of compliments about them. I have a couple comments from what I learned, and a question about a problem I'm having.

I used super glue and decided to use two magnets. Sometimes I just have to learn the hard way. For the really heavy spices (think salt), two magnets was not enough. They would slide down the fridge. Also, after a few months, the superglue started to fail and the magnets started to come off the tins. I used JB Weld now and they are rock solid.

The really fine, ground spices (cinnamon for example) are giving me major problems. The fine dust gets between the lid and the rim of the tin and this makes it almost impossible to get the lid off. I definitely can't pull the lid off, and usually I can't twist it off either. I now have a pair of channel locks (pliers) in my kitchen that I use to get the lids off the ground spices. Anyone else having this problem? How do you keep the lids from binding?

15 replies

I had the same problem with cinnamon specifically. I never did find a good solution to that problem.

Anyone else have a tip?

Well, it's been a while since your post, so I don't know if you still need an idea for a solution. The problem is that the times seal by side pressure. The tin sides are slightly narrower in diameter/circumference to allow lid to attach. It si that gap which accumulates powder.

I have two possible solutions (untried BTW) . If you can find a gasket that fits inside the lid, that will allow the wall of the tin to touch the lid preventing the powder getting into the gap. The lid just has to touch the lip of the tin wall.

The best would be a plastic ring of the type used for spice shakers - flexible. It should be a ring to preserve the clear view inside. Depending on availability and size of your lids, you could just modify a Ball jar gasket, or even cut a hole in the center of a Ball jar lid, if just the gasket is not available.

Another possibility is getting thin metal tape, about 1" wide. Cut a strip equal to the inner circumference of the tin. Lengthwise, Fold over the tape to stick to itself, leaving another half inch exposed. Paste that on the inside of the tin so that it extends above the lip of the wall, sufficient to touch the lid when closed, and provide a slight pressure barrier, to prevent the powder from getting into the gap when closed. It should be completely invisible from the outside.

Try putting plastic wrap over the top of the jar first. Then screw on the lid. The plastic wrap forms a tighter seal, conforms to the threads, and forms an anti-friction barrier between any spilled powder and the lid. (I also do this to keep things from leaking, when transporting liquids or other leakables in a suitcase.)

Great post. I love magnets, but hadn't thought of this. (stupid) Question: could you not just put your magnets inside the jar at the bottom? They would stick to the jar, which would, in turn stick to the metal board.

While it sounds like a good idea, there are reasons why we don't put them "inside" of the containers.

1) The magnets will be weaker by sheer virtue of distance, and they'd start slipping once again.

2) The flavor of JB Weld doesn't go with anything that I cook, no matter how bad my cooking could be.

3) If the magnet EVER gives way it would not enhance the flavor of my food, with or without any JB Weld flavor enhancers. However, it can provide a free trip to the emergency room, should two magnets escape and somehow be consumed. They'll find each other in the stomach or intestines later, and usually capture a bit of lining between them - which cuts off blood supply, creating diverticulitis type symptoms, and could infect the entire body cavity with flora not meant to be dancing around with your spleen and liver.

All in all, a bit too powerful for my sensitive digestive tract. :)

If you put the magnet inside, you shouldn't need adhesive at all ... just the magnet.

If you have screw on lids, try some of that stretchy white plumbers tape around the threads on the container part.

Good idea with the plastic wrap. As for the magnets inside the jar - I read that the adhesive (JB Weld or whatever you use) might not be good to put with food. I have no idea if that's true, but it was enough for me to put the magnets on the outside.

I think agwh meant to skip the JB Weld altogether, and just have the magnets on the inside of the jars without any adhesives.

Yes, I meant put the magnets inside without the JB Weld. The magnets should stay put, due to, well, their magnetism. ;)

Here is a link to spice tins whose bottoms are already magnetized:

http://tinyurl.com/h7x69cw

I've had pretty good luck with rubbing the outside of the rim with a TINY bit of coconut oil so it will spin off next time it also cleans the powder off

How about tapping off the lid except the contact point and spraying/painting that with a thin layer of plasi dip or rubber spray paint? I haven't done this so I don't know if it would work but I just thought if it works for Ball jars it might work for this.

Sorry, I don't follow you. So the plasti-dip on the outside of the lid so it is easier to grip?

I'm still trying to find a solution to this problem, so I'd like to understand your idea better.

on the inside of the lid between the lid and the jar edge; however, more i think about it the more it seems that it won't work. the idea was to create a gasket-like effect so that the cinnamon will not slip between the lid and the edge of the jar, like on canning jars (http://www.canningbasics.com/images/canninglids2.jpg) but with out a two piece screw top it doesn't really work.

Oh, I see. That's a good idea, and one I haven't tried yet. I've got nothing to lose so I'll try it.

Not at the time I created this nor for the cost I was looking for. There are a few other options available today that would make this project easier.

thanks for the idea i built box frame tin plate in back cut 80 holes and mounted it. the frame box is nice size i used walnut 1x2's the 1/2 plywood cut all holes looks amazing. frame 1/8 in plywood back tin sheet 1/2 in plywood with all holes cut into it hang it anywhere so easy and the 1/2 in plywood lip keep all the tins in place..