How to Build a Kitchen Island Countertop


Kitchen island cabinets are ideal for added workspace when there doesn’t seem to be enough available. One thing to consider when adding an island cabinet to the kitchen is the space between the island and the other cabinets. Any type of counter top has its challenges so brushing up on your woodworking skills may aid in the endeavor. To make this project as easy as possible, a table saw and electric miter saw are necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • ¾-inch plywood
  • Table saw
  • Wood glue
  • Variable speed drill
  • Philips head screw tip
  • 1¼-inch drywall screws
  • Damp cloth
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • 2½-inch drywall screws
  • Plastic laminate
  • 48 by ¾-inch wood dowels
  • Router
  • Laminate cutting router bit
  • Sanding block
  • 60-grit sandpaper
  • 1 5/8-inch oak flat mold
  • Electric miter saw
  • 8-penny finish nails
  • Hammer
  • Determine the dimensions of the kitchen island cabinet. Cut two pieces of ¾-inch plywood with a table saw so that 1 inch of it will hang over the entire perimeter of the island cabinet. For example, if the cabinet is 24 by 36 inches, cut the plywood 26 by 38 inches.

  • Apply glue to the top of one of the pieces and secure the second one to it with 1¼-inch drywall screws. Clean up excess glue with a damp cloth. Place the plywood on top of the island cabinet. Be certain it hangs over the perimeter of the island cabinet evenly.

  • Drill pilot holes through the top directly over the top of the cabinet fronts with the 1/8-inch drill bit. Do not drill into the cabinet fronts. Secure the plywood top to the island cabinet with 2½-inch drywall screws.

  • Cut a piece of plastic laminate large enough to hang over the plywood counter top on all four sides with a table saw. Next, turn it over, apply contact cement on the plastic laminate and let it dry. Do the same on the plywood counter top. Apply a second coat to each.

  • Place the 48 by ¾-inch wood dowels horizontally on the plywood top once the contact cement gets tacky dry. These keep the glued side of the laminate from touching the contact cement on the plywood until the laminate is in place. Turn the plastic laminate over so the glue side is facing down, set it on the wood dowels and position it so it hangs over all the edges of the counter top. Remove the wood dowels one at a time from the center out pressing the laminate against the plywood at the same time.

  • Route the laminate that hangs over the edges with a laminate cutting bit. Clean the excess contact cement and debris away from the counter top with a soft cloth. Sand the edges with a sanding block and 60-grit sandpaper.

  • Set the electric miter saw on a 45-degree angle on the right side of the miter saw. Place the 1 5/8-inch oak flat mold so the back is against the fence of the saw and cut one end of it. Next, measure one edge of the counter top. Put the end of the measuring tape on the inside of the 45-degree angle on the 1 5/8-inch oak flat mold and mark the top of it according to the measurement taken.

  • Move the setting on the electric miter saw to the opposite 45-degree angle (the left side of the saw), align the mark with the saw blade and cut the piece of mold. Apply glue to the back of the oak flat mold and secure it to the edges of the island countertop with the 8-penny finish nails. Hold the strips even with the top of the counter top. Repeat this for the remaining edges of the counter top.

Tips & Warnings

  • Countersink the screw heads on the plywood counter top before applying the laminate.
  • Set the nail heads in the oak flat mold with a nail set. Fill the holes with wood putty and apply the desired finish.
  • Never leave power tools unattended in the presence of children.
  • Do not apply a finish to the oak flat mold without proper ventilation.

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  • Photo Credit clean kitchen image by easaab from
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