Make your own magnetic spice rack
House & Home

Make Your Own Magnetic Spice Rack

Before we moved into our present home, we lived in a 2,000-square-foot loft in an urban neighborhood. Our kitchen took up over 200 square feet of that open space with cupboards and cabinets galore, and an island counter that was so massive, friends joked about having go-go dancers groovin’ on it while we hosted dinner parties.

Now that we’re living in the coastal ‘burbs in a more traditional house, our kitchen has been downsized to less than half that space. They just didn’t need all that storage back in 1929 when our bungalow was built.

As such, we had to get creative when we moved in — along with all our stuff. A lot of stuff. I’m an unapologetic gadget geek, and I have tools for every task at hand, whether it’s a julienne peeler or an ice cream maker.

Thanks to my husband’s mad Tetris skills, we were able to stack and store all our things quite efficiently, but the one thing we did have to part with was our spinning spice rack. That tower of spices required at least a square foot of shelving, and we just didn’t have any coveted counter space for it, nor did we have any available drawers to stash our spices.

It got me to thinking… What if we could store our spices vertically?

We had dead space on the side of our upper cabinet, but instead of building a bulky shelf, we made a magnetic spice rack to hold our 30 (and counting!) spices.

What you’ll need:

  • 22-guage steel, cut to size with holes pre-drilled
  • Spice containers
  • Rare earth magnets
  • Epoxy (or other industrial-strength glue)
  • Labels

First, we had to find a sheet of metal to serve as the base of our spice rack. We went with 22-guage steel from our local metal supply shop (about $10), and had them cut it down to the same height and depth of our cabinet. They also drilled holes in the corners for our screws. (You can even ask them to make a rolled edge — where the edges are folded and welded under — for a more refined look, but we preferred a rustic raw edge.)

If you choose to use stainless steel to match your appliances, be sure to use 304 or 400 series stainless, which is magnetic (most common types of stainless steel are not). This is a ready-made stainless steel wall base if you don’t need a custom size from a metal fabricator.

We bought these round tin containers in bulk. They’re lightweight, food grade, and feature clear lids so you can easily see your spices. If you go with other spice tins, aim for ones that hold 3 to 5 ounces.

We also bought rare earth magnets (1/3 to 1/2 inch in diameter), which are the strongest magnets on the market. I really do not recommend using any other type of magnet. A standard magnet simply cannot hold about 4 ounces of heavier whole spices like peppercorns and cloves.

Glue rare earth magnets to tins using epoxy

To attach the magnet to our spice tin, we mixed up some epoxy. You can use any other industrial glue, so long as it’s extra strength (due to the extra pull of the rare earth magnet).

With the spice tins filled, I labeled each one with a small label printed from my Dymo. It’s very inconspicuous, but you may want to make a more visible one, even across the lid if you like.

Label spices

Then we screwed the steel plate onto the side of our cabinet, and arranged all our spices to fit.

Screw steel plate onto cabinet

With the way I arrange my spices, I have all my peppers and spicy spices at the bottom, then all my Italian spices, then all my Asian spices, and then my least-used random spices on top. This kind of organization makes it easy for me to reach for a spice I need by sight alone. For things like basil and oregano, which look very similar, it only takes me a couple extra seconds to check the label on the side (though I tend to keep my Italian spices in a specific order anyway, so I know where they are without checking).

DIY vertical magnetic spice rack

Our spice rack is within easy reach of the stove, out of direct sunlight, and seeing them all out in the open is infinitely more convenient than trying to remember what we have (or how much we have). Keeping them in tins means we buy all our spices from bulk bins, which is an awesome deal compared to spice jars from the store. And I just love the way it looks in our kitchen! (Not to mention everyone else who comes over and comments on how cool it is.)

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  • lori

    Thank you

  • lori

    was wondering if the screw on lid would be better

  • lori

    have you ever had an issue with the lids coming off when you are taking the container off of the steel wall?

    • Never, but I also don’t pull the containers off the wall by their lids. I grab the containers themselves.

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  • Ken Burbary

    What are the dimensions of your metal sheet and approximately how much does it weigh?

    • The metal sheet is sized exactly to the side of our cabinet, 11″ x 30″. I don’t know how much it weighs. Weight was a not an issue since it’s screwed into the wood. A metal supply shop should have samples you can hold and feel.

      • Ken Burbary

        Thanks for the reply. I ordered all of the materials and am going to make my own. Appreciate this post! 🙂

        • You’re welcome and good luck!

  • Diane

    Do the 4 oz tins fit all the spices from the average grocery store spice jars?

    • Yes. But if you have a store near you that sells spices in bulk, that’s a much cheaper and better way to go.

  • Donna Reyburn Frank

    Hi Linda! Do you have this on Pinterest? (I couldn’t find it on your boards) I wanted to pin it so I can go back to it easily when I am ready to finalize my spice rack in my kitchen! Thanks!

    • I haven’t gotten around to pinning my own projects yet, but you can pin this yourself using the Pinterest browser bookmarklet or entering the URL of the post on your Pinterest page.

  • Missmealie

    I love this idea. I used an IKEA magnetic knife rack to hold the spices and rubs that come in metal containers. The others are stored on one of those (again) IKEA picture holders that come in white or black.
    My kitchen measures 5 x 5 feet, sort of, it’s not square and has a sloping ceiling, so, not a lot of spare space.

    • Knife racks are a great idea, especially if you’re limited on vertical space and can’t do a whole metal sheet like this. You can do a long strip of spices wherever it fits best.

  • vera@growntocook

    What a clever idea! I can totally sympathize as here in the overpopulated Netherlands houses are small and kitchens tiny. We have not found a good solution for storing our extensive collection of spices yet, this might be it!

    • If you don’t have a free wall to hang a metal plate, you can also stick the magnetic tins to your fridge. I use this trick when I rent vacation homes and bring my own spices to cook with.

  • Cynthia H

    Love, love, love this!

  • oukay

    We did something similar on the inside of the doors of a couple of cabinets. We attached the sheet metal (sprayed a color that looks fun) and then use magnets to attach frequently used recipes. When I am cooking, I just open the door to look at the recipe.

    • That sounds like a great idea!

  • luckylee8

    I thought about doing this when I recently moved into my new and tiny place but I heard that light can diminish the quality of the spices. I suppose if you use them quick enough or keep them in a shady spot they should be fine.

    • If you only have a sunny spot to hang your rack, you could use opaque lids for your containers, and just label the lids… Maybe do something fun like paint or cover the lids with chalkboard paint or paper, and write the names with chalkboard marker. Or, use smaller tins so you go through the spices more quickly.

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