Second Project - Kitchen Island

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Project by PatesWoodshop posted 12-05-2017 09:02 PM 1069 views 5 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is the island that got me started in wood working. 2 years ago my wife wanted me to buy a cheap island she liked from Ikea for around 300 bucks. I scoffed and said I wasn’t spending that kind of money for fiberboard furniture that wouldn’t last. I would make it myself from “real wood”.

At the time of this decision I owned a handheld black and decker jigsaw and that was my only wood working tool…

After watching a few Paul Sellers videos on Youtube, I decided I was going to make this with hand tools. Then I spent a few weeks collecting hand tools both new and restored some antiques. It didn’t take me long to realize I was going to need a workbench to hold the stock if I planned to hand plane and chisel out mortices (see my first project, laminated pine workbench).

Fast forward nearly a year and I finally have a workbench but I’m not much closer to having an island. Time for the construction to begin.

I gathered up random wood from all over for this. The legs are made from Douglas Fir 4×4’s from Lowes. The stretchers / stiles were cut from some rough cut red oak I got from a friend with a band saw mill. The top is made from two red oak stair treads with the rounded end squared off using my table saw (this went from hand tool to “hybrid woodworking”). With the two stair treads together I was short a few inches in my overall width for the top so I found a similarly thick board (that I think is cherry) off of an old pallet to laminate in the middle of the two oak pieces to create my top. I did flatten this out with my hand planes so that was fun.

My first attempt at assembling the frame was a bust as I calculated my needed measurements wrong. I was so proud that I had made my first mortice and tenon joints with chisels and a hand saw too..

After buying some new 4×4’s to make new legs I started over. I made all new M&T joints all around, glued up and it stayed together and square! This may sound like the basics to most but in my head I was the next Norm Abrams.

My wife wanted what I refer to as the mint chocolate chip color scheme you see in the photos. I painted the frame and then the top and slats for the shelves were stained with minwax walnut color and sealed with poly. I attached the top with some table top fasteners from Rockler. I made the grooves in the frame with a biscuit joiner.

The end result is what you see here. It took me a year and a half and looks like an Anna White project held together with pocket screws. I tell myself that mine is soo much better because I used “real wood” and “real joinery”. I’m sticking to that story :)

My wife loves it and its been in our kitchen getting abused since the beginning of September with no sign of wear so far. We have a wood burning stove / fireplace insert about 8 feet away so if we get through the winter without any cracks or checking I think it will be good for quite some time. No matter what I can always point to the kitchen and say, that’s the project that got me in to woodworking. My skills will only go up from here right?

-- By "Woodshop" I mean my two car garage full of wood and tools.

6 comments so far

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 2574 days

#1 posted 12-05-2017 09:28 PM

Looks good.

View Jerry's profile


3388 posts in 2425 days

#2 posted 12-05-2017 11:06 PM

Great job! I love the story.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View Ivan's profile (online now)


15971 posts in 3644 days

#3 posted 12-06-2017 07:41 AM

I like that blue colour.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3643 days

#4 posted 12-06-2017 05:14 PM

This is a nice piece and you have done a beautiful job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View emw3's profile


1 post in 2179 days

#5 posted 12-06-2017 05:18 PM

Great job!

I’m almost done building an island with a very similar design. I’m at the slat stage now. Since our designs are so similar, maybe you can help me with some decisions I’m trying to make.

What’s the thickness/height of your slats? Did you nail or screw them in? (Can’t tell from the pics) What type, length, and gauge nail or screw did you use?

Also, did you stain/finish your slats before or after you fastened them to the island? Any regrets about doing it that way?

If it helps with your advice – my slats are approx. 5/8-3/4 thick x. 24” long x. 2.25” wide. They’ll be fastened to a 1.5” thick wood crossbars on the island frame.

I’m not going to stain them like you did because I really like the natural color of the wood they’re made of. I’m just going to put a few coats of poly on ‘em – the same poly I’ll use on the rest of the island, which has already been painted.

My current plan is to just sand my slats to 220 grit and then attach them to the frame with either 2.5” 16-gauge finish nails or 2” 18-gauge brad nails (both options are the max. my corresponding guns can handle). Then I was going to apply the poly to them as I’m applying it to the rest of the island.

See anything wrong with that approach? Seems like the easiest way. The only issue I can imagine is that the hidden joint where the nailed-in slats and cross-beams meet will be poly-less, which I heard can conceivably cause joint-strength issues if moisture or humidity ever get in there.

Any thoughts/help appreciated!

View oldnovice's profile


7563 posts in 4145 days

#6 posted 12-07-2017 12:24 AM

Nice project, especially since you wife loves it.
Since you have increased your stable of tools will you do more projects?
This one sure seems to be a winner!

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

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