I told my wife we were going to do an article on how to make a spice rack. “Well,” she said, “I need one.” I asked her what she had in mind. “Something simple. Not a piece of furniture. Just big enough to organize the spices I take out so they’re close at hand while I cook.” She gestured to the wall and a cabinet door nearby. be you could put it there or hang it inside the wardrobe, here.”
“Okay,” I replied, “I have to go to the lumber yard and get a piece of wood.” “You have enough wood for what I want downstairs,” she replied. I was skeptical. “What size rack do you want? ” I asked.
“About that big,” she said, spreading her hands about a foot apart. ” A shelf ? ” I asked. “A bookshelf,” she replied, adding, “the kind of thing you can build in about fifteen minutes.”
I must have looked doubtful. “I want you to have fun building it,” she said. “I don’t want this to turn into a big production.” She paused, then added, “I remember the good smell of wood coming from my father’s carpentry shop.”
I headed for the basement door, thinking of the many woodworking projects we’ve done over the years at Popular Mechanics and this project as the second in a series of scrap wood projects. “Have fun there,” she said. “And no bad language! I don’t want to see ampersands, exclamation points and asterisks coming out of the basement.
Supplies to help
The 15 Minute Spice Rack
Anyone who has ever built anything, whether it’s a spice rack, a house, a boat or an engine, will tell you that it always takes longer than you think. think.
But my wife is right. I get carried away, like everything I build needs to be inspected. An elderly man I met decades ago recalled one such inspection he faced as an apprentice to a German master craftsman. The young man proudly showed the master the chessboard he had just finished. It was perfect but for a little bit of shellac stick he used on an imperfect corner. He pointed out the concealment and the master nodded appreciatively. Then the master went to his tool chest, took out a large hatchet and planted it firmly in the center of the plank. “We don’t use putty,” he snapped as the astonished apprentice looked at his crumbling work. “Do it again.”
What I forgot about woodworking is this: it’s supposed to be fun. I was wondering if I could design a spice rack that would be fun to build in fifteen minutes, plus or minus an ampersand or two.
Work smarter, not harder
Our 15-Minute Spice Rack consists of just six pieces, crafted from 3⁄4 inch thick white pine (1 by 4) and 7⁄16 inch pine trim. The longest piece is 12 inches long. You can probably build it out of scrap lumber you have in your store. This is where we found our materials.
The spice rack is made from small pieces of scrap wood. I cut clear, knot-free portions of the 1-by-4, but the 7⁄16-inch pine was clear; it had damaged ends, which I cut off.
If your workshop is already set up with your miter saw and finish nailer ready, and you have other materials on hand (sandpaper, super glue), you could probably build this little spice rack in one. fifteen minutes. Caveat: By construction, I mean cutting and attaching the pieces.
Here are the steps:
Select your stock and quickly buzz exterior wood surfaces with a random orbital sander and 220-grit disc. Don’t get carried away; it is not furniture. Wipe off the dust.
Cut two pieces of part A that are slightly too long, then cut them at a 50 degree angle. Now stack them both on the miter saw and cut them both to 6-5⁄8 inches long (see drawing).
Cut two pieces, part B, slightly too long, stack them on the miter saw and cut them (13-1⁄2 inches). Drill a mounting hole large enough for a number 6 screw in the center of one of them.
Spice rack mounting hole
Low and dirty stuff: super glue. Cut part C and put a few dabs of super glue on its end grain and on the two pieces of part A where the pieces come together. Don’t use too much glue, it could crush and stick the spice rack to the bench. Assemble the parts with pliers.
While the glue hardens, hold part D in position, mark its length and cut it across.
Super glue sets in minutes. Remove the clamp and use a brad nailer to drive two or three 18-gauge 1 1⁄2-inch brads (or use headless pins), pulling the fasteners through part A, into part C. The glue holds the pieces together so they don’t move when you pull in the nails, but it’s the fasteners that provide the holding power.
Assuming part D fits snugly, spread some wood glue on its bottom edge and slide it into position so its front is offset 1⁄16 inch from the edge of the spice rack. This little mismatch is known as the reveal, and it’s a small but nice design detail. Note: Do not use super glue here. It can bind so quickly that the D part could get stuck in the wrong position.
Now place the two pieces of part B on the workbench, spread some wood glue on them so that they adhere to the two pieces of part A. Tip the whole spice rack onto its back with the parts aligned as shown in the photo, and let the glue cure.
While the glue hardened, I cleaned out the shop. Then I took the little spice rack upstairs to show my wife. “It’s cute,” she said, “like a little toolbox.” And I added, “No foul language.” My wife gave me a dubious look. “Well, maybe a comma or two,” I said, “but no asterisks.”