Spice Rack

I’m sure this is highly uninteresting to most people, but this is one of the things that’s been keeping me busy lately.  We built a new spice rack!  I am almost embarrassingly excited about it.

For years, my spice collection has been growing as such things will: slowly and imperceptibly.  You buy a little of this and a little of that for various recipes, until one day you realize that half your spices are being stored in the cabinet above the oven, dying inglorious deaths in the heat therein.  I had long known that the tiny, two-tier lazy Susan that had laughably served as the primary storage location was no match for my collection; but it was only after a tally that I realized exactly what I was up against.  Yes, for my fifty-seven (!) spices, I needed something serious.

I’d seen wall-mounted spice racks, which I liked the look of, and it seemed like that solution would easily accommodate the largest number of containers with a minimum amount of real estate taken up, a real concern in our 500 square feet.  It had to hang on one particular wall, right behind the back door, across from the stove.  Complicating things, the breaker box is on that wall, so we couldn’t install anything permanent or that couldn’t be easily removed.

We built a simple frame from poplar boards and dowels, stained dark, and designed it specifically to accommodate a tin that I found for reasonably cheap online.  The tins are big enough to hold a ridiculous amount of any given spice, somewhere around 1 cup or so.

The tins are fairly air-tight, but more importantly, keep light away from the fragile spices.  A printed label unifies the look, and prevents any mix-ups, as can happen when your unlabeled bag of aniseed looks dangerously similar to the unlabeled bag of celery seed.  (Turns out those two are not interchangeable in the slightest, and your coleslaw will be ruined.  Do not think you are impervious to such mistakes, either; it is hubris, and you will be punished for it.)

As an added bonus, I now have plenty of breathing room in the cabinet for my oils, vinegars, and other liquid seasonings.  Who knew I had tarragon vinegar?

With all my spices carefully labeled and organized (alphabetically, of course), and knowing exactly what I have on hand, I feel absolutely inspired to get back in the kitchen and (ahem) spice things up.  It’s hard to believe that I went for so long with such a crucial part of my culinary arsenal in such disarray.  You may notice there’s a few empty spots towards the bottom of the rack; obviously, I had to leave room for the collection to grow.  At least now, I won’t feel bad about bringing home a new spicy friend, since I won’t have to store him over the stove anymore.

Here are some unglamorous before and after shots:

before, no hope of shoving anything else in
after, plenty of room!
above the stove before, spices in unlabeled bags shoved into tins
before, all the bags of spices from above the stove; those tins are crammed full
above the stove after, the tins are empty!
after, all my pretty spices in their new home


This is by far my most popular post, and so! many! people! have asked about the construction to replicate their own spice racks. Flattering!  So here are some more detailed pictures of the inner construction. Hope these are helpful.

so spice

Yes! This photo is awful! HOWEVER, it shows the nasty inner bits. The board on the very left is the left vertical side of the entire rack. You can see the tins rest on two thin dowels, run through  holes drilled in the inner vertical boards. We clearly didn’t give a shit if the wood split when drilling, because you’ll never see it. The dowels are not affixed in any way, and can rotate freely if they so choose. Free range dowels.

so spice

Behind the tins are 1/2″ square dowels. Pretty sure we nailed those to the back of the inner vertical boards, but WHO KNOWS. We made this literally 11 years ago, and I can’t even remember last week. These square dowels are intended to push the tins forward slightly, to make them easy to grab. And so they are.

so spice

Another angle.

so spice

But oh shit! If you look at the top, you’ll see the inner vertical boards don’t quite match up with the outer frame! WHAT’S UP WITH THAT.

so spice

The inner vertical boards are 2 1/2″ inches deep. And they don’t touch the plywood backer that covers the whole back, because of the aforementioned 1/2″ square dowels.

so spice

So from the plywood backer, the leading edge of the inner vertical boards sticks out 3 1/8″.

If you need any further measurements, they’re all in the comments. It’s a goldmine of info in the comments. Hope that helps!

81 thoughts on “Spice Rack”

  1. Wow Beth, that is wonderful, good-looking and practical! Would you mind if I asked you what its dimensions are?

  2. Dear Elisabeth: the overall dimensions are 31.25″[79.4cm]H x 24.75″[62.9cm]W, assuming .75″[1.9cm] board thickness and .25″[0.64cm] dia. dowels. Each opening is 2.25″[5.7cm]H x 3.25″[8.3cm]W.

    Thanks for the kind words!

  3. Nice job. This reminds me that I was planning to post about my new super-sexy spice rack but haven’t yet. (Mine is store-bought, though, so it’s not as cool as yours).

  4. I need to do this too! My cabinet matches your befores, which explains why I found 3 cans of ground cinnamon, but no oregano the other night. 🙂

  5. Love your rack. We are renovating out kitchen and I love the fact that you have room for so many spices. I’ve had mine in three wall racks-all different and don’t want to go back onto the wall, but somehting like you have resting on the counter would be wonderful! Imagine my disappointment to find out that it’s a one of a kind! Good job!

  6. I admit it. I’m shamelessly copying your spice rack. I’ve been looking for a solution that holds more then 24 or 36 spices for so long, and nothing out there is as beautiful as this. To make my copy complete, would you share what font you used for the labels? Thank you

    1. Andrea: Copy away! I know, there’s nothing attractive out there for holding large numbers of spices. Now you know why I built my own. The font is P22 Gauguin Regular, which you can find on MyFonts.com.

  7. Beth, did you build this from scratch or did you find a blueprint somewhere?

    Also what was the final cost after everything was purchased?

    1. Kyle: Built totally from scratch from our own design. See the comment above from Nathan (my partner in crime) for some dimensions. As for cost, I’ve completely forgotten the numbers. But I seem to remember that it came in under $100, including the tins. Hope that helps!

  8. Wonderful job. I am going to copy it immediately! I got some 60-70 different spices and every time I need to find one I get crazy and loose a lot of time…The hard part is to convince my wife to lend a piece of wall to hang it! But beautiful! You have to sell it to some company you can make some money. Compliment there’s nothing as beautiful and practical at the same time on the market.

  9. I love your idea and am going to have my husband build me one. What kind of wood did you use. My spices take up so much room in my pantry, this is just awesome. Did you print out the labels on avery labels? Thank you for your spice rack. Saved my life. I am totally getting into organizing everything.

    1. Sue: Thank you! The wood is poplar, just some reasonably cheap stuff from Lowe’s. And yes, the labels are just standard Avery address labels. Please let me know how it turns out! This rack is absolutely life-changing.

  10. Beth – I love your site, and I love that spice rack! It was only after having built a spice rack (shelves) for my wife’s birthday that I did a web search on the topic and found yours. Our available wall space was only 17 inches wide, so a tall, narrow set of shelves was all that would work.

    I really like the size and shape of the tins you chose, and really really like that font you used. Our circular tins are labeled with a label maker….maybe a spring refresher is in order? 🙂

    We completely understand the predicament of not having spices orderly and readily at hand. Ours were kept in 3 shoe boxes, around 55 tins in all, in our pantry. The spices were supposed to be kept in alphabetical order, but things never stayed that way, so cooking typically entailed taking out all three boxes, taking most of the tins out, and searching to find what the recipe required. It became an impediment to cooking – dreading that search. I’m sure you’ve been in spice heaven since having made that wall beauty.

    Your spice shelves are so very very nice!

    1. Elia: Thank you so much! So true, having all the spices organized is a huge help when it’s time to cook. Can’t imagine life any other way now. Kudos to you for making your own, and thanks for the sweet comment!

  11. Love your spice rack! I’ve been trying to find something uniform yet beatitiful for ages now to no avail until I saw your design. I’ve been entirely inspired. I intend to use tobacco tins though as I’ve more depth available on my wall space and since they have seal in the lid. Just hope my DIY skills don’t end up making it look like Homer Simpson’s sorry attempt!

  12. All I can say is: wow! This is one of the most beautiful spice racks I have ever seen. Stumbled upon it trough a google search. I love how you carefully printed a label for each spice, it makes for such a harmonious sight.

    If I had the spice (and that many spices) I would love to have something like this someday.

  13. Of course, the first spice in the last sentence should be ‘space’. Well, a case of what the heart thinks, the keyboard types I guess ^_-

    1. Kim: Thank you! Obviously, the awesome thing about a custom spice rack like this is that you can adapt it to whatever space you’ve got, and however many spices you have (or think you’ll have!). Pick a spot, and customize away!

  14. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. I have a smaller space to work with but I’m going to try to copy your idea modifying to use in my space. I also prefer smaller tins, so I bought 4oz ones from specialtybottle.com

    Thank you so much for the DIY inspiration!

  15. What a fantastic do-able solution! I too have spices stored in several shoe boxes, and they idea of endlessly searching has put me off of more than one ambitious recipe. Your design is the only one I’ve seen that has sufficient space plus room to grow. thank you so much for sharing.

  16. Love it! This is my next project. Did you cut the dowels to glue within each opening, or drill holes in all the vertical boards to insert one long dowel through?

    1. Erin: We drilled holes in all the vertical boards to insert one long dowel through. Waaaaay easier than cutting all them dowels down to size!

  17. Checked out your beautiful and clever spice rack this morning while sipping my coffee and had to post this comment – not only do I love your great use of space and ingeneous design, I chuckled out loud at your delightful writing style! It was a pleasure visiting your site. Keep up the good work.

  18. Barbara: The poplar boards have a .75″ thickness. The entire unit is 3.5″ deep. Those boards are pretty standard at your big-box hardware store.

    Vicki: Thanks so much!

  19. Thanks Beth….What I really need to know is how wide the upright boards are. I realize they are 3/4 inch thick and how long they are, just need how wide? I found them at hardware here where I live, but can pick two different widths….One I’m sure I would have to cut lengthwise though. Thanks, Barb

  20. Beth, a fantastic idea and superb execution. It’s really great. My question, however relates to spices. Which 72 spices do you use. Can you please list them or email the list to me. Thanks

  21. I shamelessly used your idea and it looks sooooo lovely in my wee kitchen! A great handy friend built the box and i ordered your tins. Could you just confirm how you hung it on the wall, brackets?

    1. Nicky: Glad you like it so much! Ours is mounted in front of the breaker box, which sticks out a bit from the wall. As a spacer, we attached a board (the same width as the spice rack, and hung horizontally) to the wall. The spice rack has two heavy-duty picture hangers on the back, which hang on two nails driven into the board on the wall. Hope that helps!

  22. Beth, now that you have lived with this for a while… Do you have any problems with the tins getting knocked out? I would have to place mine in a location that I reach past many times a day and I don’t want to be knocking spice cans out of the rack. (I would hate to build this and then discover the problem). Oh and BTW this is the prettiest spice rack I have ever seen:)

    1. Carney: We just nailed them together with small finishing nails.

      Renee: I’ve had no problem with tins getting knocked out. But then, it’s on a wall that’s set back a little (i.e., it doesn’t get reached past). I don’t think it’d be much of a problem.

      Sally: The dimensions were posted in an earlier comment.

  23. I love this design I would use it in my craft room to organise glitters,embossing powders, beads and little bits in odd tubs in the back of draws that get overlooked. I would be so grateful if you could e mail me with dimensions and instructions

    1. Patrick: I haven’t noticed any rust. But I have noticed that it’s better to keep ground spices in plastic bags within the tins (turmeric in particular is a disaster, even in plastic, and is probably best stored in glass). Dried herbs are fine.

  24. I copied this design, great idea! My labels dont stick very well. Did you do something to help the stick? Also, what problems did you have with the ground spices?

    1. Jeremy: Glad you liked the design! I didn’t do anything to the labels. I used Avery brand labels, which are widely available.

      The problems I had with the ground spices varied according to the type of spice. Ground ginger developed a weird sticky moisture on the lid. Turmeric also gets very sticky. It clings in between the lid and container, making the two stick together. When you finally pry it open, some always escapes, which can be very bad as turmeric stains like the devil.

      I just realized, maybe that’s a problem with ground rhizomes. Huh.

      But there is an inherent suction that happens when you open the containers. That can make ground spices fly around a bit. I’m OCD enough that I prefer keeping those types of spices in plastic bags. It’s a personal preference, really.

  25. Hi Beth,
    This is simply fantastic! It is such an ingenious piece of work, I cant help but admire the creativity and craftmanship that went into building this.
    One question…from the pictures it looks like the base of each shelf is made of dowels.How many dowels did you use for each shelf? I could see two but would that be sufficient to prevent the container from slipping through the gap between the dowels?

    1. Anu: You’ve got good eyes; there are two dowels. And yes, it’s plenty to keep them from slipping.

  26. This idea was awesome and went through and created a replica of it. Thanks so much for putting this online. The commercial ones were always too small. IMG_0885.JPG

  27. I see your post is years old…hope you are still answering it!

    My husband built me a beautiful spice rack based in this template, but we can’t figure out a good way to mount something so hefty to our wall. Could you please share what you did? What kind of hardware did you use to hang it, and what kind of holes did you put in the spice rack itself to receive the hardware?

    Thanks for the design ideas and the extra help!

  28. Hi, I love the idea. I was wondering where you got the tin from as I would love to make something like this for my tea collection.

  29. OMG this is perfect! I adore this arrangement. Where did you buy your tins from? I very much like them

  30. Hi Beth,
    LOVE your spice tin collection!!! Can you please tell me the size tins you used. Also, very curious which type font you used and where you got your labels. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Display issue with the comments has been fixed. Those looking for the tins: again, they came from PaperMart.com, item #6519331P (8 oz square steel tin can).

  32. This post is a little old, the same questions appear over and over as people visit the site. I thought I would compile the answers to make it easier.
    1)The tins came from PaperMart.com, item #6519331P (8 oz square steel tin can).
    2) Her husband built the cabinet, The overall dimensions are 31.25″[79.4cm]H x 24.75″[62.9cm]W, assuming .75″[1.9cm] board thickness and .25″[0.64cm] dia. dowels.
    3) The dowel goes all the way through so you don’t have to cut them.
    4) The wood is poplar, ¾” thick, purchased from Lowe’s. Each opening is 2.25″[5.7cm]H x 3.25″[8.3cm]W.
    5) To label, Avery address labels were used. Beth used font P22 Gauguin Regular, which you can find on MyFonts.com.
    6) I used the 2/3”x 1 ¾ “ labels for mine, with a standard “finger paint” font in a size 12.

    1. Thanks, Cindy! That’s all correct, with the exception of item #2: I built it together with my husband. We did it together.

      1. I’m sorry I tried to copy and paste and improvise a little bit. This is genius and we are going to build it.

      2. I would love to know if your labels are coated to make them waterproof. I used standard lables, they tend to get messy from time to time. Did you use something different? Thank you.

        1. Cindy: I didn’t coat them. Whenever the labels get too dirty (like once every five years), I just scrape them off and print new ones.

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