Introduction: Kitchen Island/Utility Table
I was in need of a table in my kitchen and looking for odd and inexpensive ways to make one. If you purchase a rolling utility cart or island you're going to spend $250 to $500 depending on how fancy and big you want the thing to be. I would guess what I have done here would cost under $60 for the materials. I didn't include any stains, paints, or sealers in that figure. Nor does that include any tools you might need. This project seemed to be my love letter to pocket holes. Picking up a pocket hole jig will change your life. They're wonderful.
If you have any locally owned hardware/lumberyards you'll probably be better off buying wood from them. The difference in price of the 1x6's I used between the local Lowe's and the locally owned lumberyard was pretty astounding. The local lumberyard 1x6's were about 1/3 the price of Lowe's. I guess it's because they don't waste money and energy on storing the lumber in an large air conditioned retail space. The wood is identical, if not a little less knotty.
Step 1: What You Need
I looked all over for cheap ideas until I wandered into an aisle with material for building stairs.
For the table top I chose two pine stair treads. They were 11.5" wide and 48" long. About an 1" thick.
For the table legs I chose four preprimed stair rail balusters.
For the shelf I choose one 1"x12"x8'.
For the support pieces I picked up pine 1x6's and ripped them in half with a table saw. If you don't have a table saw pick up some 1x4s.
You aren't limited to using pine. They had a variety of stair treads and balusters. You could choose to do a stained table and use oak or some other hardwood. I choose pine because I planned on leaving the top natural and painting the rest.
Stains, sealers, paints.
A vacuum or broom to clean up your mess (I built this in the kitchen it was going to be used in).
A drill and drill bits
A saw (at least a handsaw; I used a compound miter saw and table saw)
A pocket hole jig (handy things; I have a Kreg brand one, but there are a variety of ones out there that cost far less--shop around)
Step 2: Making the Table Top
I can't explain pocket holes better than a video showing them being made. Here's a video of one of the versions of a Kreg Pocket Hole Jig being used.
Very basically a pocket hole is an angled hole that is used to join to pieces of wood together. It's usually meant to be hidden out of sight.
I made pocket holes down both pieces of the pine stair treads, about six to eight inches apart. You don't want them to line up, so stagger them as you can see in the picture. Liberally glue the joint and screw the two pieces together. I had the pieces on a flat floor and knelt on them as I screwed them together to keep them flat and flush. I also alternated screwing one side and then another.
Step 3: Marking for the Base and Drilling
I measured in two inches on all sides and drew a line around to mark where the support boards would attach.
At the corners I traced the baluster and marked the center with an X. Using a appropriately sized drill bit (here I used a 3/4" forstner style bit) to sink in the baluster's tenon. Make sure not to drill all of the way through!
Step 4: Fitting the Legs and Attaching Supports
Dry fit all of the legs into their holes and then measure the length of the support boards that you'll need to cut. i measured from the inside edge of one leg to another. Once the pieces were cut to length I drilled pocket holes in them. About four on the long pieces to screw into the tabletop and two on the shorter pieces. Each piece had pocket holes drilled in the ends to screw to the legs.
Step 5: Lower Shelf
For the lower shelf I used one 8 feet long 1x12. I cut it in half and glued and screwed it together the same as the tabletop. The edge of it was rounded over with a router, but a sander could have been used for this too. The support boards were attached to the legs with two pocket holed screws on each end. The shelf was then screwed to the support boards with screws in pocket holes.
Step 6: Finish
Except for the shelf and tabletop I painted the wood with primer and a semigloss white paint. Two coats over the primer, but one probably would have been good enough.
I never had used shellac before, and thought I'd like to try it out. I can now say that I am in love with shellac. I used an amber colored one, but they do have clear varieties. Other colors can be gotten as well, but you'll likely have to mix them yourself from shellac flakes. Shellac dries super fast. I was able to coat the tabletop and shelf three times in one hour. Thick coats. I was quite impressed. And I love that it cleans up with nothing more than alcohol unlike urethanes and lacquers that need stinky thinners that are a pain to dispose of.
Step 7: Done
I'm quite happy with the results of this project. It is crazy light weight, but quite sturdy. I wouldn't call it heavy duty though. You couldn't sit on it or climb on it to change a light bulb in your kitchen lights or throw your lover on it for a romp, but it'll handle all of your regular kitchen tasks and hold quite a lot of stuff. I'd trust a very expensive and heavy stand mixer on it running at full speed kneading a bowl full of dough. And since it's screwed together you could easily alter it in the future to add drawers or other fun stuff.
I liked the table so much so that I made a television stand in the same way. The only difference with the tv stand is that I used 1x12 material for the top as well and after seeing how sturdy it was I don't think I'd pay the extra money for the pine stair treads if I had it to do again.
Thanks for looking.