Happy Thanksgiving friends! A few weeks ago Mary, a reader from Minnesota, reached out to me with an emotional story and a plea for help. Her request was simple and being this is the season of giving, I gave her exactly what she asked for. Today I’m sharing Mary’s story and plans for “Minnesota Mary’s” DIY Kitchen Island!
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Mary recently posted a message to the projects page and it started like this…
Hello Scott… My kitchen has “itty bitty” pieces of counter spaces. A few feet on each side of the sink and also on each side of the stove, and none of them are big enough to roll out cookie dough, or anything else. I need help on building a kitchen island that can join up next to the counter, making a “L” shape, with the island being the “long” part of the “L”
Mary’s DIY kitchen island needed to measure 26″ long, 18″ wide, 34-13/16″ high and needed to be 6″ off the floor. Plus she had some other design challenges in her kitchen.
The island needs to be on wheels, and the bottom of it needs to be up off of the floor so as to stand above a “wall furnace duct.” I would also like to have side shelves on one side to hold a blender, toaster, and a KitchenAid mixer, or have them inside cabinet doors on a shelf or shelves.
Mary isn’t only about baking, she’s also a do-it-yourselfer!
I am dreading this years Holiday cookie and candy baking again, and every family and friend member sort of expects this as I’ve baked for all of them for nearly 40 years… yes, I’m an old one, but this past summer I actually sheet rocked my entire dining room, and no one believes that I did it with only a helper to hold up the sheet rock while I screwed in the nails.
Mary didn’t just need a kitchen island, she needs a little of that giving, holiday spirit.
If you would give me plans, or dare I say it, build this and then give me the plans for it, I’d forever be in your debt… and it would be the only Christmas and New Year Gift I would receive from anyone… yes, even my grown children and grandchildren do not give me gifts… to them, all I need is a phone call wishing me a happy Christmas, and yes, every year I cry a bit… no, I cry a lot and so does my check book from the gifts I send them. If this sounds sort of selfish, well, it is, but I cry every year regardless. So now that you know my sad Holiday story, can you help me?
Sincerely, Mary In Minnesota
Oh man, Mary needed a holiday pick-me-up and I was going to give it to her! My initial suggestion, until I could come up with a permanent solution, was my folding workbench. It doesn’t have wheels, but it does fold neatly away when not in use and can be customized to the size you need. But what Mary really wanted was a DIY kitchen island and that’s exactly what I designed for her!
Just as Mary requested, the DIY kitchen island is on wheels and sets off the floor 6″ to avoid the air duct. I chose to make it mobile with these casters and opted for open shelves. Mary’s measurement requirements meant the island needed to be on the smaller side, so I thought keeping it open would make the piece look larger. And open shelves would allow access from every side of the island. Plus, the description of Mary’s kitchen leads me to believe space is at a premium and swinging doors take up space. However, doors could easily be added to this project.
Mary mentioned she needs storage space for some tall items like a KitchenAid mixer, blender, etc. To accommodate these items I offset the top shelf to allow for these taller items. The shorter lower shelf would be great for storing cookie sheets, frying pans and more. Depending on your application the shelf can be centered top to bottom.
For an easy to clean top that would be great for rolling out cookie dough, I recommend laminate. In fact, I would use laminate on the shelves too.
Laminate sheets are available at most big box stores (the options below are at Home Depot) and are available in many colors and design choices. From plain, to a marble look, to a granite look, to a vintage look, plus many more.
For the construction I recommend using a Kreg Jig to create pocket holes in the rails and shelves. Either the Kreg Jig K4 or the smaller and less expensive Kreg R3 would be great to build the DIY Kitchen Island. If you’ve never used a Kreg Jig, check out my Kreg Jig quick start guide.
I designed the DIY kitchen island with 2×4’s and 5/4 (five quarter). 5/4 usually measures about 1-1/8″ thick, so it’s between the size of 1x material (3/4″) and 2x material (1-1/2″).
Here it is Mary, custom plans for your own DIY Kitchen Island. I hope this makes your holiday a little more enjoyable. And no need to be forever in my debt. But a batch of your homemade cookies sound delicious! My favorite are chewy chocolate chip cookies 😉
Would you guys do a HUGE favor for me? Would you please join me in wishing Mary a Happy Thanksgiving in the comments below? I’d really appreciate it and I think Mary would too! Would you also share this on your favorite social media site? I’d love to see how many people we could get to wish Mary a Happy Thanksgiving!
DIY Kitchen Island Plan
Step 1. Cut the Legs. Cut 4 pieces of 2×3 to 29-9/16″.
Step 2. Cut the Long Rails. Cut 6 pieces of 5/4×2 to 21″. Set the Kreg Jig to 1-1/8″ and drill a pocket hole in each end of the rail.
Step 3. Cut the Short Rails. Cut 6 pieces of 5/4 to 11″. Set the Kreg Jig to 1-1/8″ and drill a pocket hole in each end of the rail.
Step 4. Assemble the Front. Cut pieces of scrap to 2-1/4″ and 8-5/16″. The scrap will be used to properly align the rails. The rails set in 3/8″ from the front of the leg and 1″ from the back of the leg. I would recommend using some scrap pieces of 1/8″ MDF (to equal 3/8″) placed inside the legs to properly align the rails from the front edge of the leg.
Place 2 legs on your workbench. Place the 2-1/4″ pieces of scrap on the bottoms of the legs. Apply glue to the ends of the bottom rail, place on the 3/8″ MDF and above the 2-1/4″ scrap and clamp in place. Place the 8-5/16″ pieces of scrap on the bottoms of the legs. Apply glue to the ends of the middle rail, place on the 3/8″ MDF and above the 8-5/16″ scrap and clamp in place. Apply glue to the ends of the top rail, place on the 3/8″ MDF and flush with the top of the legs and clamp in place. Attach with 1-1/2″ pocket screws.
Step 5. Assemble the Sides. Place the 2-1/4″ pieces of scrap on the bottoms of the legs. Apply glue to the ends of the bottom rail, place above the 2-1/4″ scrap, flush with the back of the legs and clamp in place. Apply glue to the ends of the middle rail, place above the 8-5/16″ scrap, flush with the back of the legs and clamp in place. Apply glue to the ends of the top rail, place flush with the top of the legs and clamp in place. Attach with 1-1/2″ pocket screws.
Repeat for the other side.
Step 6. Attach the Back Rails. Place the 2-1/4″ pieces of scrap on the bottoms of the legs. Apply glue to the ends of the bottom rail, place on the 3/8″ MDF and above the 2-1/4″ scrap and clamp in place. Place the 8-5/16″ pieces of scrap on the bottoms of the legs. Apply glue to the ends of the middle rail, place on the 3/8″ MDF and above the 8-5/16″ scrap and clamp in place. Apply glue to the ends of the top rail, place on the 3/8″ MDF and flush with the top of the legs and clamp in place. Attach with 1-1/2″ pocket screws.
Step 7. Make the Shelves. Cut 2 pieces of 3/4″ plywood to 21″ x 13-1/8″. Set the Kreg Jig to 3/4″ and drill pocket holes around the edge of the shelf. Attach the laminate to the top of the shelf and trim with a router and laminate cutting bit.
Step 8. Install the Shelves. Apply glue to the edge of the shelf, place the shelf flush with the tops of the rails and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws. Repeat for the remaining shelf.
Step 9. Make the Top. Cut 2 pieces of 3/4″ plywood to 24-1/2″ x 16-1/2″.
Apply glue to one piece and place the other on top to form a piece 1-1/2″ thick. Attach the laminate to the top and trim with a router and laminate cutting bit.
Wrap the top with a 1×2 border. Cut a 45 degree on one end, place against the corner, mark the other end and cut a 45 degree angle. Apply glue and clamp in position. Repeat for the remaining sides. Need help with miters? Check out my miter cuts made easy post.
Step 10. Attach the Top. Place the top face down on your workbench, center the island on the top and clamp. Using a countersink drill bit, drill holes in the top rail and attach using 2-1/2″ wood screws.
Step 11. Attach the Casters. Draw a line from corner to corner on the bottom of each leg. Use a drill bit that matches the stem of your caster, drill a hole in the leg and install the caster.
Thank you stopping by to check out Mary’s DIY Kitchen Cabinet. Would you please wish Mary a Happy Thanksgiving in the comments? Also, please share this on social media. I’d love to see how many people we can get to wish Mary a Happy Thanksgiving!
And Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I’m truly thankful for each of you who are here with me for this DIY journey!