kitchen island

DaltonEdmonds

Dalton
User
I am working on designing a kitchen island for my smaller kitchen. i have a decent amount of room, but no counter space. I have been in the design phase for this project for quite some time. trying to account for cost and durability. it is going to be solid wood. will attach my current design and maybe later post my initial design, the reason for the change was cost and size. My wood selection for the top is ash. that can change depending on how this thread goes. the base I'm thinking maybe going a little cheaper on, but not sure of the wood species yet. the top size is 2in x 2.5ft x 6ft. I'm thinking to build it at or just slightly above 36in with the base set to one side to allow my dishwasher (portable) to slide under 1 end of it. will do a shelf or two between the legs for additional storage. i would like to incorporate a hole in the top so that as we do prep work on it we can just put the scraps in to a trash can situated under the hole.

let me know what you think and any changes you would make. also not sure about the type of joinery that i want to use for the base. Debating between half lap and mortise and tenon.

kitchen island.jpeg
 

Dave Richards

Dave
Senior User
Looks like a good project. As for the joinery, you might want to give some thought to the appearance of the stretchers. If you do them like your drawing shows, you'll need to miter the stretcher ends where they meet. Joints like that are prone to opening up with time and that may not be a look you want to have.

You might find it helpful to look at your project in 3D before you build it. Something like this gives a good idea of how the variations work.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
What joints you use will have to depend some on what tools you have. I just got a domino XL so I would make something like this with lose tenons. You can also do them with a plunge router, however. Making the tenon a lose inserted piece avoids the need for a shoulder plane.

My other comments are just appearance things. Usually legs and door stiles - vertical pieces - go the full length and the horizontals end at the verticals. Your drawing shows it the other way. No reason you can't do what you show, just commenting it is not the way it normally is done. Your island also looks like a table to me, or an island intended to be movable. Again if that is what looks good to you, great. I am used to seeing islands that look like cabinets, however. I have only built one island and I made it to have a lot of drawers - because we did not have a lot of storage and my wife and I like drawers. But if you have plenty of storage as you indicate and you like this look, there is nothing wrong with it. Your structure could even be just glued up construction lumber. 2x12s tend to have the best wood. I have a bed I made out of them. Construction lumber is normally only dried to about 12% where furniture wood is dried to 8% or less but both will move based upon the humidity where they are stored. I haven't had any problems using construction lumber for furniture.
 

DaltonEdmonds

Dalton
User
Thanks for the replys. I was planning on the legs going straight to the top and the horizontal pieces going into the legs. I must have put my measurements in wrong. I was planning on making it to be portable as I live in a rental at the moment and hope to move into a house that I build in the future.

As for using construction lumber. I wasn’t sure about longevity. It will see lots of use as it will be our main prep area. If I use construction lumber I could probably make the top a bit thicker for a longer life.

For the tools. I have mostly hand tools and general construction tools. I am hoping to be able to get some better hand planes soon. I have access to a buddy’s shop who builds custom furniture, and could probably do most of the joinery there with their tools. He was the reason I was thinking ash as he was going to get me a decent price on some. But his supplier has been out and he hasn't been able to get any.
 

Dave Richards

Dave
Senior User
Ash is in short supply around here because of the emerald ash borer. Ash trees can't be transported or sold for lumber right now. Instead they are cutting and burning them. They are even cutting trees ahead of the spread of the critters to try to stop them.

Look at other woods like hickory, maple, oak. If you are going to make the top out of solid wood, I would suggest a close grained hardwood like maple.
 

marinosr

Richard
Senior User
That's almost the exact same dimensions, wood, and joinery I used in my workbench... My bench has a 3" ash top and is 6'x2.5'. The legs and stretchers are construction grade white pine. I used through mortise and tenons, pegged. I thought the joints add a bit of visual interest and increases the strength. The bench would make a fine kitchen island, for sure. If you like the look of it, southern yellow pine will be plenty durable for the legs and stretchers. I would perhaps avoid using ash or oak for the top though... the open grain will trap kitchen crud that will not be readily cleanable. You could use grain filler, but personally I'd just start with a closed-grain wood like maple or beech.
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189384
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
As for using construction lumber. I wasn’t sure about longevity. It will see lots of use as it will be our main prep area. If I use construction lumber I could probably make the top a bit thicker for a longer life.
Construction lumber is fine and as for as longevity...it'll outlast you folks. A couple of wood cutting boards can be put on top of your island top instead of doing food prep directly on your top.

I was planning on making it to be portable as I live in a rental at the moment
That's going to be heavy beast to be portable but you could make it with a "knock down" design so that it can be disassembled and moved in sections.
 

DaltonEdmonds

Dalton
User
That's almost the exact same dimensions, wood, and joinery I used in my workbench... My bench has a 3" ash top and is 6'x2.5'. The legs and stretchers are construction grade white pine. I used through mortise and tenons, pegged. I thought the joints add a bit of visual interest and increases the strength. The bench would make a fine kitchen island, for sure. If you like the look of it, southern yellow pine will be plenty durable for the legs and stretchers. I would perhaps avoid using ash or oak for the top though... the open grain will trap kitchen crud that will not be readily cleanable. You could use grain filler, but personally I'd just start with a closed-grain wood like maple or beech.
View attachment 189383View attachment 189384
I was kinda thinking about doing a through mortise and tenon to attach the top. I watched a work bench build where the guy kinda butchers the mortises and cut a decorative cap to cover them. I thought that was a neat idea as I need more practice at cutting mortises. Which this would be good practice. I will link to the video at the end.
I was thinking about trying shou sugi ban on the base to give the base a bit of contrast with the top.
On a side note. I am going to be building a work soon using syp from Lowe’s. I can get a great price on boards if they aren’t quite perfect. But I’m trying to figure out what vises I want to use. I’m pretty sure I want to put a leg vice on it , and for a second vice. I was thinking a tail vice similar to the one your using. What are your thoughts about it? Pro and cons. And then where did you get it?

As for wood I’ll see what my wife thinks. She will probably say syp is fine.. Maybe save the super nice one when I build my house.
 

JohnnyR

John
Corporate Member
If you want through mortises on the top, instead of cutting the mortises, leave the same size blank when you glue up the boards. Also you'll need a tight grained wood for the legs if they protrude to the surface. A contrasting wooden wedge into the tenon will increase the stability and add some interest. Give that hole some thought. You'll end up with end grain that has to be sealed well, liquids might drip through but continue sideways on the underside because of surface tension and any garbage smells will not be contained, not to mention the loss of workspace.
 

marinosr

Richard
Senior User
John brings up some good points re: through tenons and end grain, but I imagine they'd be addressable by using epoxy of some sort to seal it. End grain tables are a popular kitchen surface these days. I mean, I wouldn't go cutting raw chicken on it, but I probably wouldn't recommend that anywhere on your island :D As John said, you definitely would want the mortises to be tight as a drum, and doing "cheater" mortises like he suggests is a great idea.

The "wagon" style tail vise is just great. The biggest advantages to my mind are that it's very easy to build, relative to a normal dovetail-style tail vise, and it's pretty impervious to the slop that can result over time with a dovetail vise. You do lose some versatility I think because people will use their tail vises to also clamp stuff vertically like with their face vise, but I've never misssed it. I built it with this cheapie vise screw from Amazon. That's another advantage... much cheaper than a tail vise for hardware. You can see more pics of the vise and the bench on this thread.

Building the bench first may be the best course of action... let's you learn something about super-beefy large scale joinery before you make something that will sit in your kitchen.
 

DaltonEdmonds

Dalton
User
John brings up some good points re: through tenons and end grain, but I imagine they'd be addressable by using epoxy of some sort to seal it. End grain tables are a popular kitchen surface these days. I mean, I wouldn't go cutting raw chicken on it, but I probably wouldn't recommend that anywhere on your island :D As John said, you definitely would want the mortises to be tight as a drum, and doing "cheater" mortises like he suggests is a great idea.

The "wagon" style tail vise is just great. The biggest advantages to my mind are that it's very easy to build, relative to a normal dovetail-style tail vise, and it's pretty impervious to the slop that can result over time with a dovetail vise. You do lose some versatility I think because people will use their tail vises to also clamp stuff vertically like with their face vise, but I've never misssed it. I built it with this cheapie vise screw from Amazon. That's another advantage... much cheaper than a tail vise for hardware. You can see more pics of the vise and the bench on this thread.

Building the bench first may be the best course of action... let's you learn something about super-beefy large scale joinery before you make something that will sit in your kitchen.
That was my thinking. And I can get the lumber for that fairly soon. I was considering doing a round mortise and tenon as I have the tools to do that fairly easy. I have a 2 in tenoning but and Forstner bits do do the hole. But not sure that will look right with squire stock on the legs.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I think you are describing what is essentially a dowel joint - although a co-worker used a special bit to put round tenons on log pieces to make a bed one of his kids wanted. Maybe that is what you are describing. In any event, I don't think there is anything wrong with dowel joints but when I use them I don't expose them. They are a reasonable substitute for a mortise and tenon joint.
 

DaltonEdmonds

Dalton
User
this was the video where the guy did the caps on his legs when he had trouble with the mortises. video

Jim,
I believe that that is the main use for the tool. This is the one that i have. my 2 inch is getting fairly old, but my 1 1/2 is newer. i had to get it for doing log railings for stairs that i rebuilt. they are kinda fun to use. My dad used the 2 in to build a bunk bed for me as a kid out of aspen logs.
 

marinosr

Richard
Senior User
Dalton, I would personally NOT use round tenons like that on the bench/island. The reason is that those tenons cutters make a curved flare at the bottom of the tenons, meaning that the shoulder of the tenons will not be flush with the underside of the table. This will make the joint much more susceptible to racking forces. (Unless you can shape an identical flare into the mortise, but that seems like a lot more work than just doing a regular M&T)
 

DaltonEdmonds

Dalton
User
Richard,
That's the same hardware i was looking at for the leg vise. That is a great looking bench. what brand hold fast is that? I have been looking into them, but from what I've read, at least on the ones that i was looking at, a newer hold fast doesn't hold as well as an older one. I have never used one, so hesitant about buying on and having a biased opinion about them because the one i get doesn't have enough spring/ flex to it so that it can get a good grip.
 

DavidK

David
Corporate Member
Prices for Gramercy Tools is typically lowest on toolsforworkingwood.com site (they make the tools)
 

marinosr

Richard
Senior User
Yeah I have the Gramercy holdfast. It's good. It's springy because it's made out of rolled wire, not cast. I got it at Lee Valley since I'm in Canada now.
 

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