Custom Kitchen Island With LED Lighting




:::Build a kitchen island with LED accent lighting and pots/pans hanger.:::
This was my custom kitchen island that I was allowed creative freedom. The client let me do whatever I wanted to do. To date it is still my favorite piece.

Materials used:
- 3 types of Bamboo 3/4" Plywood
- 3/4" furniture birch ply or other paintable plywood or MDO (I would have used this had I known about it at the time. it is an excellent sub-straight for painting.)
- 90 degree angle with holes
- Hooks that fit your pots/pans
- LED lighting , switches and dimmer(12v or 24v, your choice) I used 12v (I used light bars but I would use strips instead)
- Paint sprayer, tarps, rosin paper, plastic drop cloth, blue painters tape, oil based primer and water based latex paint, polyurethane (your choice of gloss)
- Normal carpentry hardware (screws, glue, clamps)
- Tools (including but not limited to):Compound miter saw, Table saw, Jig saw, Router, Biscuit joiner, Pocket hole jig, impact/screw guns, nail guns, squares (carpenters, framing, speed), soldering iron, terminal connectors, wire nuts. Might be forgetting some things but these are the basic tools/supplies you will need.
- Patience and time and a love for carpentry

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.


I began with making boxes for both sides of the island. In this case I had to build (2) of the boxes around existing columns which presented a challenge due to having to build the boxes around the columns and the columns being in slightly different planes and (1) central box to house pots/pans and electrics.

After boxes are installed and set, use a couple layers of 3/4" plywood as a base for your final counter top.


I used rosin paper to protect the floor and plastic drop cloth taped to ceiling then taped to floor.
*Please be aware of fumes and ventilation.

First I primed with an oil based primer (better for sanding) then I used a water based high gloss white to enhance the reflection from the lights.

*Currently I plastic tarp to a window or door and set up a fan to draw air through the paint room to outside. Make sure that you remove the window screen because it will get paint on it from the over spray in the atmosphere.


After paint has cured, create cleats to mount bamboo panels to.
1. Take a piece of 3/4" ply about 4" wide and then rip in half with the saw set at or around 30 degrees. You can use this technique to hang other things around your house (cabinets, large pictures...)
2. Add strips of 3/4" plywood, above and below cleats, to mount lights to.
3. Install corner braces to add structural integrity to panels that will have to be removed.

**I also used a single piece of bamboo to cut out the doors so that the grain pattern would run through both doors.

Make bamboo panels with cleats (mounted inside and in opposite direction as the ones you mounted on boxes)


Install Lighting:

Install your lighting on the support strips and wire to a main terminal which will be wired to a low voltage transformer/switch/dimmer. You can place this anywhere inside the main cabinet that is convenient.

You can see where I mounted the switch (up, inside doors frame)
The transformer and dimmer are both mounted inside on the cover that hides the wiring terminal. (sorry no picture)

**One trick to twisting the wire is; take your (2) 20ga black/red wires, stretch them out the length you need plus a foot or so then take the two wires and tighten them in your drill chuck then use your drill to twist cable. It took a couple minuets and sore fingers before I figured this out.


I chose to use (3) types of bamboo plywood to create an inlay. I also used mother of pearl as an additional inlay.
You could do anything your imagination brings (concrete, granite...) I love wood and never did an inlay before so I figured that this was my shot.

1. Layout the inlay in pencil drawn on plywood base
2. I placed the boarder on the side of the plywood because the side grain of the plywood has a nice detail (it's built like an I-Beam and the plywood is EXTREMELY rigid)
3. I began fitting my pieces over the sketched out inlay
4. I had to router a rabbit on the brindle style wood to allow for the mother of pearl inlay.
5. The mother of pearl sheet was glued to balsa wood then ripped on the table saw to the dimensions that I wanted.
6. Once all pieces are fit, remove and glue into place.

** Do not press last piece of inlay in because if you make it tight it will be difficult to remove inlay pieces. Just slightly press the last inlay piece into counter top. It might have to be shaved down a little after all other pieces are installed.


After everything is glued and set, sand with 100 grit to even out height variations then work up to 220 grit and be aware of any digs left from coarser sand paper.

Begin coating with polyurethane.
I used:
(4) coats of high gloss for the counter top
(2) coats of (regular) gloss for the side panels and front.


I have always been bothered by stacking my pots and pans inside cabinets. The coatings get messed up and you have to always get the pan on the bottom. Solution? Hang 'em inside.

This you can do in any cabinet and can be an Instructables on it's own:

Use a piece of 3/4" ply (I used the bamboo), Rip to about 2-3" and cut to fit the inside of the cabinet.
Drill holes and mount hooks (make sure your hooks fit the holes in your cookware) DONE!

You can even use a plastic sheet underneath and hang your pots and pans after you wash them and let them drip dry.....TOTALLY AWESOME!

I installed a cooktop that the client had in his original island (cut out opening and install)


After the job was completed the client couldn't be happier and neither could I. Of course I didn't charge nearly enough, but It was an experience and a project that I am EXTREMELY proud of.

I am looking forward to doing another one as soon as possible. Projects like this make me love my job.

I hope that you enjoyed my Instructables project and I hope that it inspires you to create something similar. If it does I would love to see it!

Please comment and criticize as I always love to hear what you think and if there is anything that I can improve upon.

Thank you for taking the time to look.

First Time Author Challenge

First Prize in the
First Time Author Challenge

Make it Glow!

Second Prize in the
Make it Glow!

Wood Contest

Participated in the
Wood Contest



    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Metal Contest

      Metal Contest
    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge

    36 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 8

    Besides the beauty of the overall work, your hanging pots idea is going to be implemented in my kitchen cabinets one weekend real soon now. Awesome work.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I disagree. Where I live that would be against code. You might get by in a remodel if you didn't need an inspection.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Are you a code inspector or a fire marshal? Where do you live? As far as I know no vent is required in or above the island for a radiant electric cooktop. There were no notes in the installation manual regarding venting of the unit. If it was gas, yes I'm sure there would be a need for a vent because gas is combustible and nobody wants to blow themselves up because a pocket of gas was trapped inside a non vented area and a spark is made.

    The cooktop had existed in the original island so I didn't question it and if I thought it was a matter of concern I would have mentioned it to the client because I would never want someone to be injured because of my negligence. The client's been cooking, using the cooktop on the old island and the new island for years and has never had a problem.

    If you find proof that venting, below or above or both, for a radiant electric cooktop is required in NY state, please let me know so I can let the client know. I researched and the only information I was able to find was on mechanical appliances that created products of combustion and yes they needed to be vented. And a couple installation manuals don'r even mention having to vent an electric cooktop. If your really concerned you can try to find information regarding the venting of electric cooktops somewhere in NY building code and let me know.

    Thanks for your concern though.


    4 years ago on Step 8

    Very nice work ! I can tell you are a pro by the prep work to limit and mess from entering the surrounding areas during the construction.

    Only thing I could suggest , would be a way to diffuse the LED light . I did a set of stair lights for my son , and to this day that is the only thing I wish I would have tried to improve . Seeing the bright dots of LED's takes your focus off the surrounding beauty that you created.

    Thank you so much for sharing,



    4 years ago on Step 8

    I've never seen a kitchen island done like that. Great job!


    4 years ago

    I ephod be amazed if somebody could fond anything bag tip say. Flawless .....


    4 years ago on Introduction

    the wood inlay is cool but imagine taking the LED a bit further and inlaying agate slabs that were backlit by the white LEDs.

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    Very nicely done! I love the inlay work and the cabinet doors blow my mind. Having the grain follow through on the trim and doors makes for a very clean look.

    I do custom outdoor kitchens and fireplaces. I build custom cabinets on request but most of my work is with masonry and stucco. I do install the plumbing, gas, electric and low voltage lighting. I completely understand the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction after creating something truly unique (and not charging enough, LOL.) Check out my work @

    I know you already answered the question concerning the cabinet door cutouts, but I'd also like to hear how these doors swing open without hardware. I see the flush mount hinges in the pictures, but it doesn't look like there are magnetic or push to open hardware to hold the door closed or allow it to open. How did you work that out? Again, nicely done sir and thanks for the write up.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I used simple spring loaded magnetic catches (like on vanity mirrors) to allow the doors to pop open, then you just pull them open.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Really nice kitchen island and kitchen :)

    Good job :)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I'd imagine the camera accentuates the segmented lighting look. Very professional. The pot hooks are a great idea.


    4 years ago

    Very, very nice work. It is contemporary and slick with clean lines. Pleasing to the eye. Well done.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome carpentry going on here! My only riff is the segmented lighting the LED's give off. I wonder if you could have glued a piece of metal L angle to the bamboo mill work and opposite of that, on the inside, parallel and slightly below the light cleats with a piece of frosted acrylic; to soften them and help blend the light better. That's my only "complaint". The fit and finish of this island is crazy. My favorite thing, however, has to be the doors and the grain repeating from jamb to door. How the hell did you cut that out so cleanly? Anyway I'm done ranting awesome work man!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah I agree with the lights although I kind of accepted it and in a way like it. If I did it again and like I do now on my latest projects I use a flexible light strip. This was my first project using LED lighting so it was an experiment/guess.
    As far as the door cuts I first used a circular saw and did a plunge cut with a guide and got it close to the finish point. Then finished the cut with a jig saw. Then sized the pieces on my table saw. I don't have to say that it took time and caring.
    I grew up in a machine shop fabricating aircraft parts with my old man and dealt with tolerances of +/- .005in in most cases. Over the years I developed a good feel and eye.
    I don't measure by "1/8" heavy/light", I measure by 16th "heavy/light" ..... that would be 1/32".....yes I'm very anal....but I think that's what makes it all worth it.
    Thanks for the comments and criticism.

    O...I did the acrylic cover over LED lighting on another wall unit I did.
    Check out:
    and you should find it there. (keep checking back if the site is not up because I recently switched to a different server so I'm still working on getting it up.
    Thanks again.