How To: Build a Kitchen Island

Like pieces of a puzzle, stock cabinets, salvage bins, and secondhand drawers combine to create a kitchen island that packs a storage punch.

Countertop Character

A mix of new and thrift materials gives this kitchen island character that store-bought pieces lack. Follow these instructions to build one of your own—and don't be afraid to change the sizes to suit your space and your salvage finds.

What You Need

  • 2 hollow-core doors
  • 4 upper cabinets
  • Assortment bins and cubbies
  • 4 secondhand drawers
  • 4 drawer pulls
  • Medium-density fiberboard (MDF)
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush, sprayer, and/or roller

Step 1: Map Your Project

Sketch exactly where each piece will fit. We placed a pair of narrow upper cabinets back-to-back on each end of the island, then filled the center with drawers and bins. Lay the entire project on the floor and measure.

NOTE: We made this island the standard counter height of 36 inches. Make sure the door your use is tall enough to accommodate your desired island height.

Step 2: Create Shelving

Use MDF to create the island's shelving and drawer unit. Cut pieces to fit the drawers and bins, then prime and paint your desired color. Let dry, then apply a second coat. When the paint is dry, assembly the island. We used MDF with a solid back so the reverse side of the island can be used for towel and utensil storage.

Step 3: Attach the Top and Sides

Create the top and sides of the island from two doors (see laminating instructions below). One door will become the island's work surface; cut the other door in half to make the side supports.

NOTE: When cutting hollow-core doors, be sure to cap any open ends with a piece of wood lath cut to size and stained to match the laminate. Inset the cabinets at least 8 inches if you want stools to slide underneath and out of the way. This also makes legroom for more comfortable seating when the island is used for homework or at snacktime. Insert the boxes and bins, and affix pulls to the drawer fronts.

Add Laminate to the Surface

What You Need

  • Countertop base materials (We used doors; you could also use plywood or MDF.)
  • Laminate
  • Handheld jigsaw or table saw
  • Spray contact adhesive
  • Wood spacer sticks
  • Laminate roller
  • Paste wax (We used Briwax.)
  • Laminate trim router with 1/4-inch double-flute bit
  • File

Step 1: Measure Laminate

Measure laminate to fit all exposed edges. Cut the laminate with a handheld jigsaw or table saw, leaving one extra inch on each side. Spray the countertop edge and the laminate with contact adhesive; let dry. Press the laminate to the base and roll to adhere. Route the edge using a laminate trim router.

Step 2: Adhere Laminate

Spray the countertop base and laminate with contact adhesive and let dry. Position wood sticks across the countertop. (This allows you to correctly position the large laminate sheets before the sprayed surfaces are permanently fused.) Lay laminate on top of the sticks with a one-inch overhang on all sides. Remove the center spacer stick and press down, smoothing as you press. Continue removing sticks. Smooth and roll, applying significant pressure to the laminate roller.

Step 3: Finish the Edges

Rub paste wax on the laminate to prevent the router from burning the laminate. Run the router over the laminate edges, working in a clockwise motion. Finish by filing the edges until smooth.

NOTE: Before laminating a big project such as a kitchen island, try the technique on something smaller.

1 Comment

  1. This is a bit complicated (or maybe it's because I'm viewing this at 12:30a.m.), a video would greatly enhance the instructions!

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