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.


Chelsea (not verified)

Sun, 05/09/2010 - 09:02

The legs don't extend the whole height and the thickness of the top should make up the difference and give you about 36" total.

Stacia (not verified)

Wed, 05/19/2010 - 05:53

Ana! Thank you so much for your entire site. It has given me a new sense of independence. My hubby is quite handy but I'm impatient and this combo often leads to unecessary tiffs between us. Now, with your plans in hand, I can do it myself!

Do you have any suggestions for extending the top to make a space for dining with some barstools?

Erin (not verified)

Wed, 06/09/2010 - 13:54

We are currently piecing together a home, and this would be the perfect island for my kitchen. If I double the width, would you recommend having 6 legs total, or 8 legs by just building 2 of these and sticking them together?

Ana White (not verified)

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 18:58

Erin, I would build two. That way you can move them through the door! And you won't save much money by making just one. Good luck!

Pickle Salt (not verified)

Tue, 07/13/2010 - 08:39

Ana, I just came across your website and am ECSTATIC! My husband and I have been wanting to build a kitchen island since we bought our first home 6 months ago. I'm afraid we don't have quite the space for this one, though. What would we change to make the island a bit smaller? Say.... 24" x 36"? Thanks so much! It looks amazing and I can't wait to build it this weekend!

Pickle Salt (not verified)

Tue, 07/13/2010 - 08:41

Ana, this is amazing! My husband and I have been trying to build a kitchen island since we bought our first home 6 months ago. Unfortunately, this won't fit in our space. What would we change to make it a 24" x 36" island? Thanks for your website, I'm ECSTATIC that I found this!

morgan (not verified)

Fri, 07/23/2010 - 06:16

I am prepping to make the island this weekend and came across the same issue commented upon by Christi. The 4x4 legs need to be 34.5" but the supply list only calls for one 10' 4x4. cut into four legs that would be slightly less than 30" for each leg. Thus, a 14' 4x4 would be the length one should use. Otherwise, everything looks awesome. Thanks for the plans.

morgan (not verified)

Thu, 08/19/2010 - 14:04

I am in the middle of building the table and found one other minor error. The image for step number four: drawer housing says that the drawer housing sides are 1x8 boards. all subsequent measurements are actually based on 2x8 boards.

~Sha~ (not verified)

Mon, 08/23/2010 - 08:15

Regarding warping etc, from previous comments.... If you had the means to do so, you could use a biscuit joiner or dowels to join the boards together. Also alternate the direction of the warp of the boards as you build the table top. In other words if you look at the ends of your boards you may notice that some of the grain goes like (((( and some like this )))) so you would alternate one curving down, one curving up, one curving down, one curving up, and so on. This will help with the warp. I think Ana's plans are perfect as they are simple and easy to understand. You can modify some measurements if you need it to "fit in a nook".It is up to you to do your own research for your area and temperature and humidity conditions to see what will work best for you.

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