DIY Pantry Spice Rack

I would like to dedicate this post to my mother, who passed away April 17th, 2016. This one’s for you, Mom. ♥

Once upon a time, I created a super-organized pantry. Then I moved. (Sigh.) But new beginnings bring new opportunities, so here’s my new and improved pantry. After much searching for different ways to organize spices and such,  I tweaked some Pinterest ideas, and here’s what I ended up with.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Let me first say that I had some reservations about this project, not because of the building of the racks, but because of the uncertainty of mounting them on a hollow-core door. If you have the same hesitation, don’t sweat it because mounting the units was easy, and they feel very safe and secure.

This project requires only basic carpentry skills. And if you’re reading this tutorial, you will also benefit from my mistakes, as I’ll also be sharing with you what not to do. You’re welcome.

My projects are usually pretty inexpensive because I use leftovers from previous projects, treasures from garage sales, and special finds from curb shopping. (I pull a ridiculous amount of wood off of curbs.) That being said, this project is no exception and cost me less than $25. A wire-coated rack would cost two to three times that much, and wouldn’t be specific to your needs like one you can make yourself.

First, I gathered up all of my spices and other items that I wanted to store in the racks, so I would know how to space the shelves and how much wood I was going to need.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I found it helpful to draw a simple sketch, although I did change some of the shelf spacing as I got further into this project. (Incidentally, the second set of numbers on my rough sketch don’t add up to the total shelf dimensions, as they were measurements of the spaces not including the wood. My math isn’t that bad.)

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since I was doing this project without help, and because of my irrational fear of mounting something on a hollow core door, I decided to break this down into two more manageable units rather than one big one. That turned out to be a very good thing.

Since spices are small and lightweight, I used thin pieces of wood to build the top section. I used Pine Mull Casing scraps that I had leftover from another project.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I have no clue what mull casing’s intended purpose is, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t created for DIY spice racks. It resembles lattice, but is thicker. I strongly suggest not attempting to use lattice for this project because nails need to be driven into the skinny side of the wood, and lattice is too thin.  The mull casing measured 3/8″ thick, and just shy of 2″ wide—just like it said on the sticker in the last photo. Imagine that.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Most of the spice racks I saw on Pinterest used wooden dowels to hold the spices in place, which is nice because a small dowel won’t cover up too much of a spice container’s label. However, I chose not to use dowels for four reasons. I would have had to use a wider, bulkier piece of wood to construct the frame if I went with dowels, since a dowel eats up shelf depth; because they are a son-of-a-gun to paint; because I didn’t want the stress of trying to drill the mounting holes perfectly even on the side boards and because I had something else on hand that I could use for free.

And my free dowel substitute was…(da, da-da, daaaaa), wood from a clothes-drying rack. Yes siree, ladies and gentlemen. Recycling at its finest. I disassembled the pieces, and spackled over the center holes to make them disappear. The end holes were cut off when I cut the pieces down to fit the units. I know what you’re thinking. But for the record, I’ve used these before on a similar project, and once they’re painted up, they look great. I also liked these because the edges were routed. If you don’t happen to have a broken clothes drying rack lying around, screen molding or another small piece of trim would be another option.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL I used the recycled wood pieces for the bars that hold in the taller spices, and to make a ledge to hold my smaller spices on the shelves without covering their labels.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I bought bead board paneling for the back of the shelves. Not only did it keep the shelving unit square and more secure, but it was what I screwed into to attach it to the door. Plus it looks sweet! Home Depot sells 32″ x 48″ sheets of bead board for $10, and they cut it to size for me. I laid everything out to get an idea of spacing.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The bead board on my top unit was 18″ wide x 32″ tall, and the bead board for the bottom unit was 18″ wide by 30″ tall. My pantry door measured about 24″ x 7′, which left roughly three inches of space on each side to allow the door to open and shut freely. Very important.

I suggest priming and painting the wood pieces before you cut them. You can paint it in half the time with a lot less mess. I didn’t paint first because I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop, but this is one of those important do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do suggestions.

I cut all my pieces making sure that all of the shelves were exactly the same length, and making sure that the two side pieces were exactly the same length. If the boards are not of equal length, you will not be a happy camper when you assemble them.

For the small spice containers, the space between shelves (not including the shelf itself–air space only) was about 3 3/4″, and for the taller spice containers, the space was 6″. That spacing allowed just enough “headroom” to be able to lift the taller containers up and over the bar that kept them from falling out.

Next I pre-drilled all my nail holes. Simply put, I stink with a hammer. And since there wasn’t much room for error on this thin wood, I needed the nails to go in very straight. Also, the nails were tiny and would bend easily if I didn’t have pre-drilled holes. Bending nails while hammering them is my specialty.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I pre-drilled two holes per shelf on the pieces of wood that formed the sides of the unit, and partially inserted my nails. I knew that assembling this was going to be a balancing act, and I didn’t want to be scrounging for nails while trying to hold the boards, with a hammer clenched between my teeth.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I glued the end of every board I nailed. And yes, I did get this unopened glue for $1 at a garage sale (note sticker). If you are buying wood glue for this project, make sure to get paintable glue.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I nailed and nailed…

A smaller upholstery hammer worked best for the small nails.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I laid my rack on the bead board to make sure it was square.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I loosely tacked the bead board to the shelf to keep it square while the glue dried, although that probably wasn’t necessary since it was pretty square on its own. ( Can you say OCD?) I tacked it loosely so that after the glue set up, I could remove the bead board, and paint it more easily.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I repeated the same process for the bottom unit, only I used 1 x 4 pine instead of mull casing in order to accommodate larger items.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I primed, and then painted using a latex semi-gloss paint from Sherwin Williams in the color “Pure White”. You must prime raw wood before painting it if you want your paint to adhere.

The bead board was already white when I bought it, but I painted it so that when I had paint touch-ups after I mounted it (fingerprints, glue, hammer marks), the whites all matched. And you will have paint touch ups, trust me. I made sure I painted the edges of my bead board since they’ll be visible.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the paint dried, I assembled all the wood pieces. I used nails and glue to attach the bead board backing. I also drove a nail through the back of the bead board and into the center of each shelf to prevent the shelves from sagging or warping over time.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then came the scary installation part. This was especially nerve-racking for me because I had just installed new interior doors. And if that weren’t enough, they were special ordered from Lowe’s, so if I messed up the door, it was going to be awhile before I could get a new door to try again. Pressure. Here are the hollow-door anchors I used. A package of four was under $2 at Home Depot.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Basically, how these work is you hold your item to be hung, up on the door. You drill through your item and into the door where you want your screws to be. Remove the item, install the anchor into the hole you drilled in the door and then put the item back up and screw it on. Boom. Done. But not so fast.

I drilled holes for the mounting screws through the bead board backing where I felt the screws would be hidden behind the spices. I did this without holding the shelf up to the door since I knew it would be difficult for me to hold up the shelf and drill at the same time. Not a great idea.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account where the recessed panels on the door were. So when I held the drilled shelf up to the door, re-drilled through the existing holes in the bead board and into the door, the holes ended up in a recessed panel. I will admit a swear word left my lips on that one. So I ended up drilling two more holes in my bead board and my brand new door. (Personal thank you to whoever invented spackle.) Here’s a picture of where you don’t want your holes to end up.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to use three anchors for each shelf unit, but four–one in each corner–would have been better.

Since my door had a handle rather than a knob, I had to be sure to place the bottom unit low enough so that it didn’t interfere with the handle’s operation.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I was still leery of this whole hollow door issue, so I decided it best to install the lower shelf first. A screw-up down low wouldn’t be as noticeable.

I stacked pieces of wood on the floor under the shelf, so I wouldn’t have to try to hold it while I was drilling. I made sure it was at the desired height, centered and level on the door. Next I drilled through my existing holes in my bead board (the second set–ugh) and into the door.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I removed the shelf from the wood stack, and screwed the wall anchors into the holes I had drilled in the door. The creaking noises during the screw turning made me cringe a bit, but I kept plugging away—ever so gently.

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since hollow core doors these days are sort of cardboardish, I was left with fuzzies around the anchors. My OCD was wanting to give that thing a hair cut, and I openly admit I started to remove it with a utility knife. But I got a grip and quit because that tiny bit of “squish-out” is never going to be seen—ever.

I propped the shelf back up on the piece of wood, lined up the holes in the bead board with the wall anchors (I could actually see the anchors through my drilled holes if I looked closely) and installed the screws.

I repeated the process with the top shelf. Installing the bottom unit first, turned out to be a good idea because I could balance the top unit on it while I leveled and drilled.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Lastly, I painted the screws and touched up the paint as needed.

I had actually stopped using most of my spices after I’d moved because it was such a hassle to find what I needed. You can see why from this “before” photo.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here are my after photos.

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

  DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Pantry Spice Rack/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It took me about a day and a half from start to finish for this project. That included figuring out how to space everything, a trip to Home Depot for supplies, painting, assembling and hanging. It was well worth the time, as these storage units have made my life so much easier, and now I have two empty cupboards in my kitchen!

If this project seems too complicated for you, and your spice cupboard is a wreck, you may want to check out my simpler “no construction” Dollar Store idea for storing spices by “Clicking Here“.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

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10 thoughts on “DIY Pantry Spice Rack

  1. jdwinterland says:

    I’m still VERY impressed, so awesome! And Sis, Mom (and Dad) would be so proud! Great job. Wish my spices were like that instead of on lazy susan’s in my cupboard where stuff falls off.

    Like

  2. Diana Tyler says:

    Great overview! This type of unit is so easy to build and what a wonderful space saver. If looking to purchase ready made it would be very costly. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial.

    Like

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Thank you, Diana. I agree, to buy something like this would be pricey. The best part is it can be made to accommodate everyone’s personal sizes of pantry items. Thank you for the lovely compliment!

      Like

  3. Patrick Dockins says:

    Great project. I am working on duplicating it now. I do have one question. How high up are each of the strips across the front of the spices (small spices, taller spices and larger bottom shelves)?

    Like

    • Tracy Evans says:

      I’m happy that you’re making one of these for yourself! You’re gonna love it. The actual “air space” in the top three shelves with the large spices (not including the wood) is right at 6″, and from the top of the strips to the top of the boards that the spices are sitting on measures 2″ on the top three sections. The bottoms of the strips on the next three shelves sit flush with the bottom of the wood that the small spices are sitting on. My strips are 3/4″ tall, and they basically just form a barrier that holds the small spices on. On the small spices, the strips stick up 1/2″ in front of the spices. It works out well because I can see all the labels on the small ones. On the bottom section, the openings are all different to accommodate the different sized boxes. The height of the strips on those vary a little bit, but from the top of the wood shelves that the items sit on, to the top of the strips are roughly 3″. I would strongly advise laying everything out based on your items. I built my main boxes, laid them on a table, laid out the shelves and the strips and “practiced” inserting and removing items from the shelves. I wanted to use every inch and placed my shelves as close as I possibly could, while still being able to remove the spices and boxes. If you put the shelves too close together or put the strips too high, you won’t be able to put the spices in or remove them! The space on my top shelf, for whatever reason, ended up 1/4″ shorter than the other two (5 3/4″ instead of 6″). Another 1/8″ smaller and I wouldn’t have been able to use that shelf. If you’re close on your measurements, it might be a good idea to just lightly tack your strips in and try them out before you commit. Good luck!

      Like

  4. Beth says:

    This is fantastic. We’re building a new house this year and this is exactly what I want for the inside of my pantry door. I’m saving these directions and am looking forward to making it!

    Like

    • Tracy Evans says:

      Please let me know how your spice rack turns out!! It’s so nice to be able to see all the spices at once so you don’t end up buying duplicates because you can’t find what you’re looking for. It also freed up a complete cabinet in my kitchen. Good luck and thank you for your comment!

      Like

  5. Ruby says:

    Hi Tracy – I just discovered your blog and I love it! And this may sound silly, but I love that you’re a woman who does all this stuff. You’re inspiring me to get over my fear of tackling woodworking projects (or anything that involves a trip to Home Depot). I just never learned this skill set, and have been embarrassed about it for too long…but as a woman, I worry about asking for guidance and admitting that I know nothing. I poked around on your site…do you have anything for beginners? Tips, tricks, starter projects? Suggested first tools? I am really starting at the beginning…I can hammer in a nail but that’s about it. I would love to get your thoughts on how to get started on this whole new world of crafting and building!

    Like

    • Tracy Evans says:

      I’m so excited that you’re going to give DIY a try!! I’ve thought about doing some really basic posts before, but then I end up nixing the idea. I’m sure there are other people out there like you who don’t know where to begin, so I’ll consider that in the future. I can tell you in all honesty, if you can hammer a nail, you’ve got a good beginning because I can’t hammer a nail to save my soul. I don’t know what your budget allows, but my biggest tip for getting some basic tools if you’re on a budget is to hit some garage sales and estate sales. The bulk of my tools are second-hand, and I also pick up all kinds of nails, screws, hinges, wheels, brackets, clamps, chisels, levels, and such at garage sales too. I pull huge amounts of different types of wood off of curbs for many of my projects. My number one tool suggestion would most definitely be a good quality drill to use for drilling and to use as a screw gun to put in screws. A miter box/saw will go a long way until you can get a variety of power saws. Miter boxes are inexpensive and actually make nicer cuts than power saws in my opinion, but you’ll be limited on the size of board you can cut with it. A jig saw and a power miter saw (chop saw as some people call them) would be next on the list. (I would read up on safety before using a power miter saw.) You could actually make the spice rack I posted about with a hammer, nails, and a miter box if you have the bead board cut at the store. You’ll be amazed at what you can do! Hope this helps.

      Like

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