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Steampunk Spice Rack

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This was just a short project I did for my wife Kathleen. It was her idea to use small 4 ounce Quilted Crystal Ball canning jars to hold spices. She thought of making a flat board that would hold these jars sideways held to the board using rare earth magnets. So of course I did the project in my Steampunk style.

4 ounce Quilted Crystal Ball canning jar

The Start

After gluing oak boards together to the correct width, I covered the surface with painter’s tape. Using a compass I marked out the locations for all 32 jar lids onto the surface.


The rack uses two 6mm diameter by 3mm thick NAZZO rare earth magnets to hold each lid/jar. In these pictures the locations for each of the 64 magnets are being marked. The marks are located so that the two magnets will impinge on the top edge of the lid on the outer ring. Each marked location was first drilled with a 1/4 inch drill about 2-3mm deep. Finally I use a 1/4 inch end mill to flatten the bottom of each hole to exactly 3mm deep, the thickness of each magnet. This will allow the magnets to be flush with the wood surface after gluing a magnet into each hole.

I remove the tape and then sand the entire surface smooth ready for staining.

Mounting Holes

This Steampunk Spice Rack is going to be mounted to a wall when done. In preparation for that I drill two holes in locations that will be between jars. Screws through these holes will hold the Steampunk Spice Rack to the wall.

Staining The Surfaces

The Stained Wood Rack Back.

.Before gluing the magnets into place I stain the surface with a red oak color stain. If I glued first, any glue residue that would get on the wood surface would prevent the stain from absorbing and would leave a pale blotch after staining.

The Magnets

The magnets that will be used can be seen stuck together in the pictures at the top. The bottom image shows one magnet set into one of the holes. When resting in place, the top of the magnet is flush with the surface of the wood.

Using a two part epoxy, all 64 magnets are glued into their respective holes.

A magnet test with one jar.

In this image a jar is tested in place with the lid stuck to two of the magnets.


I coat the back, front and sides of the board with polyurethane varnish. This also coats the magnets. If I only varnished the front and sides, the board would tend to warp as the back uncoated side absorbed moisture and the front would not due to the varnish. So that I can coat both the top and bottom at the same time, I set the board on top of nail points that have been inserted through some scrap lumber.

The Brass

In order to keep each jar from sliding down the vertical surface of the Steampunk Spice Rack, 1/4 inch square brass stock is screwed to the surface. The bottom of each jar will rest on this brass rod. There will be four brass rest pieces — one for each of the four levels of jars.

I only had enough brass in my stock to make two pieces cut to the right length. Here I am drilling them for mounting. One of these will be used for the brass strip that the bottom row of jars will rest on. The other will be used for a top decorative piece that will be attached to the top edge of the Steampunk Spice Rack.

Top Rod

As more of a decorative element, I decided to make a rod that will hang over the top of the Steampunk Spice Rack. This will make the finished piece look more balanced. Short brass pieces are cut drilled and tapped. They are threaded to take a #4-40 brass screw through one end and then drilled on the side for mounting to the top of the wood rack.

In this picture you can see the finished decorative rod mounted to the top of the Steampunk Spice Rack. The short pieces are both screwed and soldered to the longer rod before attaching the whole assembly to the top of the board.

The Rack so Far

The bottom rest is also seen attached in these images. On the right I am testing the jar by setting it on the bottom rest and sticking it to the magnets. Works pretty good. At this point I had to wait for delivery of some more brass stock.

The Center Rests

After getting some more brass square stock I cut and drilled three more jar rests. On the right I am using painter’s tape to mark the locations for each rest before screwing them to the Steampunk Spice Rack.

The completed Steampunk Spice Rack Mounted to the wall.

When done with the basic assembly the Steampunk Spice Rack is mounted to a wall in the kitchen with two longer #8-2 inch brass wood screws. Almost done.

The Jars and Mounting

Jars with labels and spices added.

While I was making t the Steampunk Spice Rack, Kathleen was filling jars with spices and attaching labels. The labels are adhesive backed black paper. The white circles are embossed with powder. The letters are written with a white chalk marker pen. And yes, Kathleen does use all those spices plus a few more.

With that the Steampunk Spice Rack is complete.

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