This is my spice cabinet. Now, in this and the following photos, you may notice that I am the lucky owner of some “European” 1990’s cabinets. Don’t be jealous. I know you all want them but they are mine. Mine . . . mine . . . sob . . . You know your cabinets are bad when you covet other people’s “before” cabinets.
Anyway, back to the spice cabinet. It’s hell. I bought those white, pull-out things thinking that would solve all my problems. Hardly. When I slide the white thing out, whatever is on the right side of the cabinet falls behind the white thing so that I can’t close it. It’s a nightmare. Well, it’s a first world problem, that’s for sure.
So, have you seen this?
Yeah, I want this. I’ve had a similar picture in my dream kitchen folder for over two years. Then it hit me – I can make this! Okay, not exactly this but something equally functional and it can go in my weird lower cabinet:
Please don’t notice the dirty floor boards. I swear I did a thorough cleaning of the entire kitchen when I was done with this project.
This cabinet is very narrow and quite deep. It is only 8 1/2″ wide and 22 3/4″ deep. My husband stores a plethora of grilling accoutrements on the top shelf. I tried to store all of our olive oils and vinegars in the bottom area but most of our bottles are taller than the space allowed (11 1/2″). I also have to get on my hands and knees to reach anything in the back of the cabinet. It is quite awkward.
So, on to a newer, easier spice solution. First, I would like to make a disclaimer. I am not a carpenter. I also hope to redo this 1990’s throwback of a kitchen in a couple of years (when the last stepgirl finishes college.) So, whatever I build now does not have to be beautiful. It just needs to be functional and sturdy-enough. My work here is crappy. It has a bunch of ugliness that a real carpenter would just laugh at and label as shoddy workmanship. I know it and am okay with it. My work has held together for a while now and, despite the ugliness, it works. That being said, this is what I did and I’m just giving you the basic info. Your cabinet will most likely be a different size than mine. Also, my top shelf slides out which makes this project so much easier. If you don’t have such a shelf, you can install sliding guides and make a top shelf. I’m not going to go into the installation of the guides here. It is fairly complicated because it involves a lot of measuring to make sure each side is level and plumb to each other. I hate installing guides. Especially in weird, narrow cabinets.
First, clean out the cabinet (and all the crap that you find in the back, like one pencil inside a sandwich bag and a 1970’s harvest gold egg timer.) Then measure your opening.
We are going to make a box that will be attached to the sliding drawer. It will also have casters underneath it to support its weight. Your box will end up looking something like this:
I used lumber that I found in my scrap pile. I don’t want to spend money on this project ’cause, remember? This is temporary. If I had a nice kitchen, I would use more uniform pieces of wood than I am using. For the bottom, I used a scrap piece of a 8’x10″x1″. I cut it down to be one inch less than the width and depth of my cabinet. That way, the box will have 1/2″ between it and the opening of the cabinet. Next, I cut the sides for the front and back of the box. They are the same measurement as the width of the bottom board. I’m using MDF but regular white wood would work fine. I would recommend using a board that was around 2″ wide for all the sides. That will give you enough of a lip to stop things from jumping off the box when you are sliding it but it should be low enough to easily see your smaller spice bottles.
Apply wood glue to all surfaces before screwing together. Attach the front and back sides to the bottom by screwing through the bottom into the sides. Be sure to pre-drill and countersink your holes. All of my boards are 1″ thick so I’m using 1 1/2″ screws.
See that cracked MDF board?
Yeah, that’s because I didn’t pre-drill it. Normally, I would throw that board away and cut a new one. But, I’m keeping it as-is for this project which against my grandma’s advise of , “If you are going to do something, do it well.” I agree with Grandma, but it was 105 degrees in my garage and this . . . is . . . temporary.
Next, you will measure the distance between your two side boards. That will be the length of the right and left side boards.
Attach the side boards.
Why, yes. Yes, my side boards are all different heights. How nice of you to notice. I totally don’t recommend this. But, hello? 105 degrees. Temporary.
After you screw the right and left side onto the bottom, screw through the front and back into the sides to hold everything together. Next, we install the casters. You want the kind that have screw holes, not the kind that have posts. I bought the smallest casters I could find at my little, around the corner, hardware store. They were $4.99 and I had a $5.00 off any purchase coupon. I think I paid $.35 which represents the tax.
Install one caster at both of the back corners. My casters swivel. If yours don’t, be sure to place the wheels so they are facing in the correct direction and move along the length of the cabinet. I marked the holes, pre-drilled and then screwed the casters on.
Install the other two casters about halfway down the length of the bottom.
Next, bring your box into your air conditioned house and insert it into the cabinet. Grab a glass of water to hydrate.
Measure from the bottom of the inside of the box to the bottom of the upper shelf. That will be the length of the boards which will attach the bottom box to the upper shelf. Cut four boards that length. Next, we will attach those boards to each corner of the box.
Screw the attachment board to the side board. Make sure it is at a right angle with the bottom. I screwed one screw into each attachment board from the inside of the box and then two through the bottom into the attachment board.
You can see that I marked my bottom board to show the width of the side boards. That way, I could figure out where my attachment boards where in order to screw into their bottoms. Does this make any sense? I hope so.
After the attachment boards are, well, attached, bring the box back into the kitchen and put it into the cabinet. Mark the front of your box. Does it slide in easily or does it get stuck? If it gets stuck, as mine did in the back, you may have to remove the sticking attachment boards and cut off a tiny bit. My top shelf wasn’t level so the back boards were too high. I cut them down 1/8″ and re-attached them and then they fit fine.
Here is the finished build after I spray primed it. Obviously, if you are doing this for a permanent installation, you would want to fill all the screw holes and sand all the boards. I did not bother doing either of these things. This is a case of do as I tell you not as I do.
After the primer was dry, I chose to spray mine black flat on the outside and satin on the inside. I’m hoping the satin will be easier to clean if anything spilled inside the box. I already had both of these cans of paint. I chose black to help hide all the errors of my build. After three thin coats of paint, the box was ready to install in the cabinet. Yeah! Air conditioning!
Installation was fairly easy. I slid the box into the cabinet making sure the end marked front was actually in the front of the cabinet. I centered the box under the top shelf and marked where the front attachment boards met the bottom of the shelf. I then removed both pieces from the cabinet and lined up the marks with the boards, made sure the back boards were centered on the bottom of the shelf and screwed through the bottom of the shelf into the attachment boards.
Then, insert the top shelf into its guides. Test to make sure it glides easily. If not, you will determine where it is sticking and make adjustments to the length of the attachment boards.
Then, wipe it down and fill it with spices.
As you can see, I labeled the tops of my frequently-used spices for easy finding.
So far, the cabinet has held up great and I love the ease of finding my spices. The whole project took about two hours which includes paint drying time. It was definitely worth the time spent!