How to Make a Kitchen Cabinet Island With a Table Top

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Building your own kitchen cabinet island does not necessarily require the skills of a master carpenter. You can build an island by re-purposing a few old cabinets and then customize the island to suit your needs. Many homeowners choose to design their custom islands with a table top that can be used as extra work space. Adding this feature to your kitchen island is not difficult, and it can greatly add to the functionality of the finished product.

Things You'll Need

  • Cabinets
  • Screwdriver
  • 2-inch wood screws
  • Measuring tape
  • Table top
  • Paint or wood stain (optional)
  • Clear varnish or polyurethane
  • Wood screws
  • Select two or more identical wooden cabinets to use as the base for your kitchen cabinet island. These cabinets should be about as tall as the desired height for your island. The length of your island will depend on the length of your cabinets -- for a longer island, use three cabinets rather than two.

  • Check the cabinets to be sure they are sturdy and tighten any loose screws by hand with a screwdriver. When finished, slide the cabinets up against each other so they are side by side, all facing the same direction.

  • Attach the cabinets to each other by driving 2-inch wood screws through the side panels of each pair of adjacent cabinets from the inside. If your cabinets have doors, you can simply open the doors to access the inside. For cabinets with drawers, you may need to remove the drawers.

  • Measure the length and depth of your kitchen cabinet island base with a measuring tape. The space on top of the cabinets will become the main workspace of your island and the table top will extend from the back of the cabinets.

  • Draw the measuring tape outward from the back of the cabinets to determine how deep you want the table top to be. Add this measurement to the depth of your cabinet base to find the total depth of your island top. You may choose whether to cut the island top to the exact length of the cabinets or to add a few inches to create an overhang.

  • Have the professionals at your local home improvement store cut your table top to the dimensions you just determined or cut the table top yourself. Choose whatever material you prefer for your table top. Good options for table tops include butcher block, hardwood, medium density fiberboard and plywood.

  • Paint or stain your table top if you are not satisfied with its natural appearance. Once the paint or stain has dried, apply two or three coats of clear varnish or polyurethane to protect the surface from minor damages and water stains.

  • Lay the table top flat on top of the cabinet base. Adjust the table top to achieve the desired overhang at the front, back and sides of the cabinet base.

  • Measure the thickness of your table top and add 1 inch to the measurement to determine the proper length wood of screws to use in securing it. Drive these wood screws through the table top into the cabinet base every 6 inches to attach it.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are not satisfied with the appearance of the cabinets you chose for your kitchen island base, you may strip and re-paint or re-stain them before you begin. For painted cabinets, apply a coat of chemical paint stripper and follow the directions on the package to scrape away the paint. If your cabinets are stained, you will need to sand them down. Apply your new paint or stain and allow the cabinets to dry completely before moving on.

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