My old spice drawer had many issues:

– out of space

– tins not airtight

– arbitrary alphabetical organization

– no labelling for spice-impaired

– selection had grown from base pantry ingredients to a “collection”


Research led to a better organizational principle: botanical taxonomy as in Order-Family-Genus-Species, per the International Code of Nomenclature of algae, fungi and plants, 2012 (the Melbourne code); and International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, 2010.

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Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 12.29.13 PMArrangement into a periodic table shape was possible but too “cute” and wasted a lot of space. (A guy did a magnetic spice rack similar to this on Instructables, but used the crappy tins I was getting rid of, and took up 24”x36” of wall space that I don’t have, for half as many spices as I have.)

I did have a doorless kitchen cabinet available, 11”d x 17”w x 30”h, after removing little-used wine shelves.


My compact “periodic” table formed the organizational backdrop for the spice rack. This graphic is actually a spreadsheet in Apple’s Numbers app. Here, have it (PDF download).


Project Steps


I printed it on 30-mil styrene and punched holes for shelf supports.



I designed U-shaped shelves to support ten 4oz jars each, with three shelf support contact points. Researched acrylic, glass, stainless steel, and aluminum. Prototyped steel and aluminum.

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Produced the final shelves in 1/8″ aluminum at a local metal shop with a water jet cutter. Sanded the edges and faces for a scuffed stainless “commercial kitchen” look.


I drilled the empty cabinet with holes for shelf pegs, and added a battery-powered LED light fixture above.


Here’s the periodic table of spices, wrapping the back and sides of the cabinet in a U-shape.



Shelf pegs and shelves installed, face edges of aluminum shelves blacked with Sharpie to match borders on the periodic table.


Spice jars installed, each labeled with its two-letter symbol.


Night light mode