Build Michaela's Kitchen Island

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 03/28/2010 - 13:12
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Michaela's Kitchen Island is the perfect blend of functionality and rustic beauty. Featuring added shelves, two large drawers, and a wood top, this solid wood kitchen island was built by Michaela at The Garden's Eden.

Overall Dimensions and Composition are shown above


Shopping List

1 – 10′ 4×4 Post, Should be cheap, Untreated (you can also modify by using 2 2x4s laminated, remember the dimensions will be 3″ x 3 1/2″ as opposed to the dimensions of a standard 4×4 of 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ so you will need to make modifications)
14 – 1×3 Boards (About $1.50 Each)
7 – 2×4 boards, stud length or 8′ Length
1 – 1×8 board, 8′ Long (About $8.00 Each)
1 – 2×8 Board, 8′ Long (About $7.00 Each)
2 – 1×2 Boards, 8‘ Long (About $1.00 Each)
3 – 1×4 Boards, 8′ Long (About $4.00 Each)
1 – 1×6 Board, 4′ Long (About $3.00)
1/4 Sheet 1/2″ Plywood
21″ Drawer Slides
Handles or Knobs for 2 Drawers

Common Materials
1 1/4 inch screws
2 inch screws
2 1/2 inch screws
2 inch finish nails
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

Cutting List

4 – 4×4 Posts @ 34 1/2″ (Notched out for shelf stretchers)
4 – 1×3 @ 7 1/2″ (Spacers)
2 – 1×8 @ 17 1/2″ (Side Aprons)
1 – 1×8 @ 49″ (Back Apron)
3 – 2×8 @ 21 3/4″ (Sides of Drawer Housing)
2 – 1×2 @ 49″ (Face Frame Top and Bottom)
3 – 1×2 @ 4 1/2″ (Measure to fit exactly, space trim on face frame)
4 – 1×4 @ 24 1/2″ (Shelf Supports)
14 – 1×3 @ 58″ (Shelf Tops)
6 – 2×2 @ 21 3/4″ (Top Supports)
7 – 2×4 @ 60″ (Countertop)

Cut List for Drawers

2 – 1/2″ Plywood @ 21″ x 21 1/4″ (Drawer Bottoms)
4 – 1×4 @ 21″ (Drawer Sides)
4 – 1×4 @ 19 3/4″ (Drawer Fronts and Backs)
2 – 1×6 @ 23 3/4″ (Drawer Faces)

Cutting Instructions

It is always a good idea to measure your finished drawer opening before constructing drawers. Most side mount drawer slides need 1/2″ clearance on each side for a total of 1″ clearance.

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Power Sander
General Instructions

Work on a clean level surface. Use proper safety equipment and precautions. Always take a square after each step. Use straight and dimensionally sized lumber. Predrill and countersink your screw holes. Use glue unless otherwise directed.


Step 1

1. Legs. Notch out your legs as shown above. You can modify the notches to the needs of your kitchen. For example, if you have baskets or bins that are taller, you may wish to have only one shelf. There is a video here of me notching out legs on my table.

Step 2

2. Spacers. Begin by attaching a spacer to each of the insides tops of the legs, as shown above. Notice how the spacers will be in different positions depending on the leg. The easiest fastening method is to use your 2″ finish nails, but if you do not have a nailer, you can use 2″ screws and glue. Keep the top inside corner flush.

Side Apron. Also shown in the above diagram is the side apron (in blue). Use glue and 2″ nails to fasten the side apron to the spacers.Keep top edges flush. Check for square.

Step 3

Drawer Housing. As shown above, build the drawer housing. Start by fastening the back apron to the drawer housing sides. Use the measurements above to guide you. Then attach the face frame pieces. Finally, measure and fill in the spaces between the face frame with 1x2s. You must build this housing perfectly square or your risk your drawers not sliding properly.

Step 4

Fastening the Drawer Housing to the Legs. Turn everything upside down on a clean level surface. Attach the drawer housing to the legs 1″ inset from the front and 1/4″ inset on the back. Use glue and 3″ screws. Check for square. Get some help flipping it all over after the glue dries.

Step 5

Step 6

Shelf Tops. Fasten with 2″ screws the shelf tops to the shelf supports. Check for square. There will be a 1″ overhang on the ends. Please note that you can use other types of boards for the shelf.

Step 7

Top. One a clean level surface, lay out the tabletop boards. Then position the supports on top as shown above. Take great care to be exactly square, fasten the spacers to the tabletop pieces. Minimize the gaps between the tabletop pieces as you go. Leave a 1 1/2″ gap on the center, wide enough to accommodate the 2×8 drawer housing sides.

Step 8

Attaching the top. To keep the top free of screw holes, lay the top on top of the island. The drawer housing sides should sit flush with your supports. Fasten through the supports into the drawer housing sides. Also fasten through the tops of the face frame into the supports. You will not see these screw holes because the drawer face will cover it. If you do not use glue, this gives you freedom to remove the top and replace or refinish if desired.

Step 9

Drawers. Begin building the drawers by cutting the bottoms of the drawers out of the 1/2″ plywood. You must cut your drawer bottoms very square or they will not fit properly in your drawer housing. Then fasten the red boards, sides to the bottoms using 2″ screws and glue. Then fasten the fronts and backs to the sides and bottoms. NOTE: Check your drawer slides before constructing the drawers. Different drawer slides need different clearances, and you may need to adjust your drawer size for the slides.

You can also use any scrap 1x3s to create drawer partitions at this stage. Drawer partitions will strengthen your drawer and save you tons.

Step 10

Inserting the Drawers. Using the drawer slides, fit the drawers without the faces into the drawer housing. When completely inserted in the drawer housing, the fronts of the drawers will be flush with the face frame.

Step 11

Drawer Faces. So you want your drawers to be perfectly lined up. Here’s my trick. With the drawers inserted into the housings all the way, position your faces on the drawer fronts. Leave a 1″ gap on the tops and bottoms of the faces, and a 1/2″ gap between the drawers. Then with your nailer and 1 1/4″ nails, fasten the faces to the drawers. You only need just a couple of nails. Avoid where your hardware will be placed. Then carefully open the drawer and from the inside of the drawer, use your 1 1/4″ screws to secure the face to the drawer front.


Ali (not verified)

Mon, 03/29/2010 - 07:03

Thank you so much Ana for all your plans and even mentioning me and my little old table-- I keep saying to myself "wow, Ana- thee famous Ana- actually likes some stuff that I did, wow" I really feel like I've been a recipient of your kindness and wonderful character- I've went from 3 followers to 54.

Also I wanted to point out that I really love your plans because they are made with the average person in mind, that it is possible for everyone to be able to create their own furniture-- we aren't all looking to create the perfect piano boxes and nor does the average person have the time, tools, and knowledge,(or time to learn that knowledge) to create the best of the best-- Generally to create something with your own hands is far more rewarding than buying something in the store for the over inflated price and flimsy construction of most pieces- and woodworking is a creative art form, It's made to be a creative process to experiment to see what works, to follow some rules and peoples ideas of rules and to throw others out, and make it fit what you want and need, and when your done you love what you created- because you created it. Anyways just my two cents-- thanks again so much!

Susan (not verified)

Mon, 03/29/2010 - 07:46

Regarding Julie's comment--I've read this before. Is this a big concern? Could you get around this problem by keeping the wood in your house for a few weeks before building? I know that's required before floor installation. I'm pretty ignorant here so sorry if I'm really missing something!

Michaela at Th… (not verified)

Mon, 03/29/2010 - 10:08

- Not sure of what to make of that comment there from Julie. We haven't encountered any problems with our seasoned/reclaimed douglas fir top. But, the whole point of this project is to reproduce that funky look in R*st*r*t**n H*rdw*r*, (and also the S*nD*nc* catalogue this month). I think it's lookin' sweet and homemade. And if you look at those boards on the RH and SD tables, they have lots of warping and checking and totally cool character. I love it. If I wanted something perfectly flawless... I wouldn't have chosen this "look", I would have gone with the other WS island style, using the plywood. If someone is really wanting a super flat surface, maybe they can use something else on top? Like butcher block, stone, slate or another surface.
This isn't a perfection kinda look. Am I right on that?
If you want to switch the top at some point in the future, you just lift it off and change your mood. I think it's a fine thing.
Rock on Ana.
xo M

Julie @ follow… (not verified)

Mon, 03/29/2010 - 11:34

To add to my comment. Wood that is used for framing is not kiln dried as furniture wood is. So it contains water and that water will be released in a dry climate making everything smaller. Wood does not stay the same size at all times, this can lead to cracking and twisting if wood is attached firmly to another piece. Other things that can happen is that doors will get stuck and drawers may not open. I'm sure some of you have that in your homes, where a door gets stuck that didn't used to before. If you know that may happen and you like that look, then that is fine, but I do believe some people will end up with spaces between their table tops that they didn't know would be there.

rebecca (not verified)

Mon, 03/29/2010 - 15:17

LOVE this plan. My husband is on board. Can't wait for my island. Thanks so much for the plans and variations so we can make this a great piece for our kitchen.

Chelsea (not verified)

Mon, 03/29/2010 - 18:09

I guess this is a good place to comment that Julie does have a point. I made a version of the modern farmhouse table (my top was very similar to this one) and I kept the wood (construction grade 2x4's and 2x6's) inside for more than a few days but less than a week before building.

After a bit less than a month the cracks between boards have widened from nonexistent to about 1/16"-1/8" (somewhat annoying with the crumbs getting in them) and the boards have warped a bit so the top is not quite flat anymore.

But I still really like my table, I knew it could happen when I built it and it is still usable and attractive. I could have gotten unlucky and had a board warp or crack in such a way to make the table unusable and need to replace that board, however, I think the most common result will be some gaps and less than perfectly flat surface.

This could likely be avoided by letting the wood sit inside for at least a couple weeks as a previous commenter suggested. Julie is right though that for some people the gaps, warping and cracks to be a bit of an unpleasant surprise so it is a good thing to mention so you can work to avoid it.

Ana White (not verified)

Mon, 03/29/2010 - 18:43

Julie, all, I just want to set something straight, it was not your comment that hurt my feelings - rather some very less helpful and personally directed comments on a rather large site. You are always welcome to comment, and you are absolutely right that wood moves. Especially if you live in a humid climate. And I appreciate you taking your time to explain this to everyone.

So if I know this, why do I post plans? Well, if PB can sell for $300 a coffee table made of solid pine, why is it a crime for me to give away for free plans?

The other thought is if you live in a humid climate there is absolutely nothing stopping you from using what every type of wood you want. And there is nothing stopping you from using whatever form of joinery that you want. I just like to post the most basic and simple method. Because, let's face it, most of us here are delighted to own a jigsaw and a drill.

And Julie, you do very nice work!

Susan (not verified)

Tue, 03/30/2010 - 00:49

I did a little poking around about this last night. Even at a 90% discount, building these pieces is a stretch for our family so I'd definitely be concerned about warping and cracking. I didn't read that kiln-dried wood is any better. The consensus seemed to be that all wood will acclimate to its new surroundings after a few weeks, no matter how it's been dried.

This is all good to think about and know. Ana I love your plans and your generosity with all of this. I am very excited to get building as soon as I convince my husband I'm not nuts ;) Thank you!

Christi (not verified)

Sun, 05/09/2010 - 07:30

I haven't made this yet, though I do love it and plan on doing it soon, especially now that classes are over for the semester. However, I was just glancing over the plans and wondered if I am missing something. The supplies list calls for 1- 10' 4"x4", but the island is 36" tall, making the 4"x4" legs 34 1/2".

Won't you need at least 12'? 138" plus some to account for blade curf? 10' is only 120".

Just checking. Thanks for the wonderful plans!

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