If you’re like me and love to cook, you’ve inevitably got a decent-sized collection of spices in your kitchen. Until recently, my spice cupboard was an absolute disaster. Mismatched jars made organization nearly impossible, and I managed to collect several duplicated spices (three jars of paprika to be exact) because I never could find what I needed and ended up buying more—more to clutter up the cabinet.
To forever ditch the spice cupboard of horror and tidy up my jars of basil, oregano, cumin and coriander, I made this simple and inexpensive magnetic chalkboard using mostly upcycled materials found around my home. This process can be replicated with items available to you, and while it might not look exactly the same as mine, I’m sure yours will be equally as charming.
1. Rummage for and paint a board.
The chalkboard’s foundation can be made from a number of items in your donate pile. The board can be big or small—whatever fits your needs. Picture frames, mirrors or even old windows will work. If you want a magnetic chalkboard for your spices, like I did, find or purchase a piece of scrap metal. Remove the glass or mirror from its frame, and cover with chalkboard spray paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When dry, cure the board by swiping the long edge of a piece of chalk over the surface and wiping clean.
2. Choose your frame.
If you use an old picture frame, mirror or window and you like the accompanying frame, this part is easy. Simply keep the frame as is or spruce it up using your favorite paint, stain or distressing technique. Reinsert the painted glass or mirror into the frame, and voilà, your chalkboard is complete.
Because I used a sheet of metal for the chalkboard pictured, I decided to make my own frame. Shipping pallets, which I picked up free from the local co-op, made this part of the project much less expensive and provided the rustic-wood aesthetic I was after.
3. Construct the frame.
To make your own shipping-pallet frame, find a pallet in reasonably good condition, and carefully detach the boards. If the boards are too wide for your frame, determine the frame width you prefer (mine is 2 inches), and rip two of the boards accordingly.
Next decide on the length for each wood board in order to properly frame your chalkboard. Because the metal sheet I used was 2 feet by 2 feet, I cut two boards to 22 inches and two boards to 26 inches to account for the 2-inch width with a 1-inch overlay on each side.
Lay out the boards in the desired shape with the back side facing up, and use a staple gun to attach the boards together, keeping them as flush as possible. At this point, sand the front sides of the frame and apply any paint or stain you wish to use, and allow to dry. (Be careful when moving or sanding to avoid working the staples loose—the staples are only the first step to connecting the frame pieces.)
4. Attach the chalkboard.
With the front side of the frame facing down, apply a strong glue suited to the materials you’re using, such as epoxy, and place the chalkboard on top, front-side down, securing it firmly until it dries. Then screw braces across the corners of the chalkboard to reinforce the frame.
5. Hang it.
Attach a sawtooth hanger suitable to the weight of your chalkboard to the top of the frame. Hang it in a spot you frequent often.
Optional Spice Rack
Attach three 1/4- by 1/16-inch neodymium magnets to the bottom of a 4-ounce, clear-lidded tin using epoxy glue, and allow to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Cover a sheet of 2/3- by 1¾-inch adhesive labels with chalkboard spray paint. Once labels are dry, rub the sheet with the long side of a piece of chalk and wipe off. Adhere one label to each tin lid, and write the spice name on it using a chalk marker. Fill the container, and attach to your magnet chalkboard, leaving enough room on the chalkboard for grocery or to-do lists.
Note, the chalkboard with spices attached can be very heavy. Make sure to hang the finished board on a beam for extra stability.