Need more counter space in your kitchen? How about storage for wine or other kitchen items? If you are handy with woodworking tools, have the right tools for the job, and a have a free weekend you can add this island / table to your kitchen as well.
Step 1: Gather Tools and Wood
Tools needed for this build
1) Power saws (miter saw works great for frame cuts (you can use any saw they are just straight cuts) and a jig saw is good for rounding the corners of the top)
3) Kreg Pocket Hole Jig (I use the R3 model)
4) Counter sink bit matched to the size of your wood screws
5) Random Orbit sander or just sandpaper if you need a workout
2 1/2 inch pocket hole screws
1 1/4 inch pocket hole screws
1 1/4 inch wood screws with tapered heads
Wood : For the frame and slats I used all pine
(3) 2x4 x 8 ft
(4) 1x4 x 8 ft
(1) 1x3 x 8 ft and at least 1 ft more (sometimes stores carry 2' pieces)
(1) 1x2 x 8 ft
Top: you can do what I did and use 3/4 in x 16 in x 48 in spruce panel. Or you can get creative with multiple 1x4s (or other lumber) or plywood covered with laminate or plywood covered with decoupage (I've seen brown paper bags, beer labels, maps, book pages, etc all look pretty cool while scouring the internet for ideas)
Step 2: Cut List
The first step is to make all your cuts. See hand written list above for cut list. I use a miter saw and a stop block to aid in making all pieces the exact same length. Its important all pieces of the same length are the same length even across lumber sizes. For example there are 2x4s, 1x4s, and 1x3s all in the cut list as 36 1/2 inches. After you cut the first piece it needs to become your template. You will use this piece to compare to every piece that needs to be this length. Try to get every piece as close to the same as possible. It is possible to shave a little from the posted measurement if necessary to get all pieces the same (if this "shave" gets greater than 1/8" you may think about re-cutting the piece so you don't get too far off from the design). Always use the same template piece to compare to each new cut. On a project like this where the final assembled shelf width will dictate the slat lengths it may be best to cut the slats after you have assembled the rest of the frame. This way if the short sides ended up slightly shorter you can measure the completed width of the shelves and cut the slats to fit.
Step 3: How to Use Pocket Holes
Reference the manual that came with your jig system. Just remember to adjust the drill bit collar and the hole guide jig to the appropriate thickness of the material you are going to pre-drill. Remember 1x material is actually 3/4 inch thick and 2x material is actually 1 1/2 inch thick so use the appropriate marks when adjusting the jig.
Always glue joints at pocket holes. Pocket holes are used for butt-joints and putting glue between the end of the piece with the screws and the face of the piece you are attaching to will make for a really strong joint. The pocket hole screws essentially serve as clamps and dowel joinery combined!
You can pre-drill all pocket holes at this time. I align the outside of the jig to one edge of the wood and use the outside hole guide for one hole then move the jig flush to the opposing side to drill the second hole through the other hole guide.
Look through the rest of this guide to see sketches of where the pocket holes are but for a list see below:
All pocket holes should be made on the same side of the piece and this side will be assembled to the inside of the island so you don't see them on the outside face (see pic)
2 pocket holes per end in: (2) 6" 2x4 short top apron, (2) 36 1/2" 2x4 long top apron, (2) 36 1/2" 1x3 long bottom shelf sides
1 pocket hole at the top of each end of the (2) 36 1/2" 1x4 long wine shelf sides (the 1x2 cleat will prevent using a pocket hole on the bottom of each end of these pieces)
Step 4: Assemble the Legs / Short Sides
You are going to need (4) legs, (2) 6" short 2x4 side apron, (2) 11 1/2" short 1x4 wine shelf, (2) 11 1/2" short 1x3 bottom shelf and a scrap piece of 1x4 to ensure you are insetting the short shelf sides the proper distance so when you attach the long sides they are flush with the face of the 2x4 legs.
1) In your 6" 2x4 pre-drill your pocket holes with the Kreg jig setup for 1 1/2 in material (since this piece is so short the opposing pocket holes will over lap in the middle but this will not affect fastening)
2) Attach 6" 2x4 to each leg. If you use a flat bench and the Kreg clamp (face clamp) to ensure everything is flush it will greatly help. Put the clamp on the joint and turn the assembly upside down on a flat bench and push the 6" apron until the top is flush with the top of the leg. This ensures the top plane is flush. Once everything is lined up glue and run your 2 1/2" screws into the pocket holes. (be careful not to over tighten.... these coarse pocket hole screws with pull themselves right through pine)
3) Pre-drill the countersunk holes in the short shelf sides as shown with "o" on the sketch. Both holes at each end must be within 2" of the ends to ensure you will hit the leg when you screw them together
4) Use the scrap 1x4 to get the proper inset and put glue between the short shelf sides and the legs. Now use 1 1/4 inch wood screws to fasten the short shelf sides to the legs as shown in the sketch. (ever wonder what the numbers on an adjustable drill chuck mean? now is the time to use it. Set the slip at a medium number on the dial and drive the screw. At some point the drill will slip and not drive the screw any further. Continue to adjust the number up until the screw makes a secure joint. Your drill is now set for all future assembly on this project. This prevents you from screwing the screw completely through your work piece ...which can happen because pine is soft)
Repeat this process for the other 2 legs and sides
Note : I chose 1 1/2" space up from the bottom of the leg to the bottom of the 1x3 side shelf board and 7" between the top apron and the top of the wine shelf side so you can use scrap 2x4s as spacers. Use (1) 2x4 laying flat between a flat bench and the bottom of the bottom shelf to get the proper spacing for the bottom shelf. Then use (2) scrap 2x4s stacked on their side to acheive 7" of space between the bottom of the 6" apron and the top of the wine shelf.
Step 5: Attach Cleats to Wine Shelf Long Sides
1) Pre-drill holes in (2) 34 1/2" 1x2 cleats. Make sure not to counter sink too far because this is the best chance you have for the screw tips to come through the outside face. I used (4) shown in sketch with "o"
2) Make sure the bottom of the 1x4 and 1x2 are flush the entire length. Leave 1" of space at each end to accept the ends of the short sides of the wine shelf already assembled on the leg sides
3) On the same side of the 1x4 the cleat is on you need to pre-drill your (1) pocket hole at each end at the top (see sketch in next step)
Step 6: Finish Main Assembly
The sketch for this step is drawn with the horizontal pieces on the side facing you. The dotted ovals are pocket holes on the back side of the pieces as shown. After fighting with trying to clamp my project to attach these pieces I figured out (1) wood screw with a pre-drilled countersunk hole at each end of the long shelf sides was the best solution because it will hold it in place for you to install the pocket hole screws on the back side. Since I was going to paint the frame I puttied these holes and it made the assembly a little easier. If you are staining the entire piece you will need patience and only use the pocket holes on the backside with so no holes are in the face of your wood (if you do that I would find a way to make a second pocket hole screw work on each end of the wine rack shelf long side).
1) Pre-drill countersink hole on each end of long shelf sides 3/8" from the end because the end faces of the short shelf sides is only 3/4" wide (drill from the side opposite the cleat on the wine shelf... cleat will be on the inside and the screw will be coming from the outside)
2) Put a bead of glue down the cut end of the short shelf sides and screw both the wine long shelf side and the bottom long shelf side into the short shelf sides making sure tops of short and long sides are flush (do this on both sides)
3) Sit assembly on flat surface and make sure everything is true and not wobbly (make adjustments if necessary). If everything is is true run the pocket hole screws in from the inside for some extra stability.
4) Now we are getting somewhere! Last thing flip the assembly upside down on flat work bench and insert (2) 36 1/2" 2x4 top aprons. Depending on your cuts the lower shelves being assembled may give you enough friction to hold these apron pieces where you want them. If not you can use a cheap strap clamp or have someone help hold the apron long pieces flush with the front side of the 2x4 legs and flush with the top of the legs also (see pics). Glue and pocket hole screw.
The hard part is done!
Step 7: Slats and Finish
If you precut your slats make sure the wine shelf slats fit between the 1x4 sides and rest on the cleats without binding or being too sloppy (see pic). Make sure the bottom slat ends are flush with the outside of the 1x3 bottom shelf sides (see pic). If this all checks out its time to do some finishing (ie staining, painting, decoupaging, whatever you choose). Or you may need to cut your slats first then do some finishing. Much easier to finish before you install the slats (less nooks and crannies, plus if you are finishing the slats differently than the frame that would be a nightmare if the slats were already installed)
Decision time. What kind of finish do you want? All stain... all paint... a mixture... decoupage... gold leaf?
Use wood filler to fill in countersink holes on long shelf side faces, and top holes on the inside of the wine shelf sides (you will be able to see these since the inside of the wine shelf 1x4s are exposed above the slats). You can also fill in joints between legs and other members if you want it to be a smoother finish between the separate pieces. After the filler dries sand smooth and flush.
For the bottom slats I hand sanded all top edges so there were not sharp corners (this will prevent little ones from hurting themselves) (see pic). For the wine shelf slats no sanding. No corners will be exposed and the 90 degree edge helps keep the bottles from rolling. I did however, sand the top corners of the wine shelf side 1x4s. Since those edges will be exposed (the lip of the wine shelf), I wanted them slightly rounded and smooth.
For my project I painted the frame with semi-gloss indoor white, and stained the slats and top with oil based stain. Then topped the stained pieces with 3 coats of spar urethane. Follow all directions on labels for these products. They all have very particular drying times, curing times, etc. The project could be done in a day if you didn't have to wait for the curing times on the finishes.
Step 8: Install Shelf Slats
Are all the finishes the way you want them? Ok good. Now its time to finish up the shelves.
1) The wine shelf: Place the (2) 11 1/2" 1x2s at each end then the remaining (7) 11 1/2" 1x4s (see sketch). Now the trick is to evenly space them. Mathematically the space between slats should be about 15/16" but thats with every cut being perfect and before you applied the finish. Try different spacers (magazines, books, hex nuts, wedding bands, etc) until you find something that works. You can always lay them out to where they look about right if all else fails. Then attach them. The easiest way (the method I used) is with a brad nailer and 1 1/4" brads. Other options would be countersink screws but the heads would be seen (could be a good look) or finishing nails and a hammer and punch.
2) Bottom shelf: Place the (9) 13" 1x4s along the frame for the bottom shelf (see sketch). This spacing mathematically would be 5/8" but once again many factors make that iffy. So do the same as you did for the wine shelf and when you are happy with the spacing attach these slats also. Making sure the ends are flush with the long shelf sides.
Ok the frame is complete.... have you decided on the top yet?
Step 9: The Top
There are endless options for this step...believe me I "googled" and researched and pondered them all. You could use (2) 1x8s which would give you the 15" width or (10) 1x2s or (3) 1x6s (of course all those options would need to be glued with a mending block beneath the planks). You could use 3/4" plywood faced with 1x2s and contact cement some laminate down. You can use the same plywood and decoupage the top and sides as mentioned earlier. You could lay tile on the 3/4" plywood ... they even have self adhesive ones now that are vinyl but you have to prime the plywood before sticking them down (plus you have to figure out a way to trim the edges of the top if you tile). HECK I know steel fabricators and even thought about taking them a piece of plywood the shape i wanted and seeing if they could wrap it in stainless. Great idea...it would look cool... but have you priced stainless sheets?
Here is what I did....
Personally I purchased a 3/4" 16" x 48" spruce stainable panel. These are strips of spruce that have been glued together in the factory and sanded smooth to create a solid board. Gives the appearance of knotty-pine hardwood floor on a smaller scale.
I was going to cut the top down to 15" x 41" but after sitting it loose on top and shifting it around the wife decided she liked one end having a long overhang so we can put a bar stool under it in the future if we want. So then all I had to do was round the corners.
Rounding corners. Use a round object to trace the radius at each corner. This way all the corners have the same radius. Personally i used the bottom edge of the quart stain can. Just sit the can on the corner and move it around until both sides of the wood top are tangent to the can (think way back to trig class) with the bottom of the can. Now trace that edge between the two tangents to get your radiused corners. Cut this off with a jig saw with a scroll blade staying slightly outside the line. Use a random orbit sander to sand those new rounded corners smooth down to the line. This is a good time to sand every corner of the top all the way around so there are no 90 degree edges.
Stain the top and wait for it to dry (per instructions on stain). If you want it darker apply a second coat of stain. I just use old T-shirts to apply stain. After you are satisfied with the color its time to seal it. I used spray spar urethane. I applied 3 coats 1 hour apart. I realized I didn't sand the top smooth enough so then was the hard part....with spar urethane you have to wait 72 hours before you sand if you want to apply more coats. So I waited the 3 days and used the random orbit sander with 320 grit paper and sanded the top baby smooth. Then I applied 2 more heavy coats at one hour intervals and let dry for 3 more days.
NOW ITS TIME TO FINALLY PUT THAT TOP ON!! Which one did you choose?
Step 10: Mounting the Top
Furniture is a tricky thing. Heck wood is a tricky thing. How long did it take for you to find straight and true pieces for this project?
Essentially all wood is going to expand and contract. And the bigger the "solid" piece is the more that effect will be seen. So we need a way to solidly attach the top and leave some method of movement. As you can see in the picture I used tiny 90 degree metal brackets. The trick is the hole in the horizontal leg (the one screwed to the top) is elongated. This way the board can "move" laterally. Also only one screw on each hole so it can twist a bit if needed. This was the best I could find at the local big box store. I used #6 1/2" screws and pre-drilled the holes in the top especially (the last thing we need is for something to split after you spent a week finishing something). Just be careful not to drill all the way through the top.
There are a couple of other options. Google "figure 8 desktop fasteners" which allow each area to pivot with movement. You just need a forstner bit to cut out the hole in the apron top to accept the fastener flush with the top. And there are also table top fasteners that are Z shaped and require a dado to be cut in the apron. Google it.
Step 11: Finally Lets Put It to Use
Obviously wine can be stored on the top shelf. But really anything you don't want to fall off would work on that shelf as long as it is big enough not to fall through between the slats. Or you could add another slat or change the end slats to 1x4s, which would tighten up the spacing. I wanted close to an inch of space between the slats to provide the bottles with a nesting spot.
We are still debating on the bottom shelf. I think the solution is "accent" baskets of some sort. That way it adds character and you can throw all sorts of stuff into baskets. Be it wire baskets, wire baskets lined in cloth, wicker baskets... who knows but I'm looking.
Final thoughts: I designed this specific design for our kitchen. I'm not sure you could go narrower than a 13" wide base and maintain stability but you could go wider if you have space. If it got much wider you may need a stretcher midway between the top aprons. Don't have room for it to be 4 foot long? Make it 2 feet long. Looking for a rolling kitchen cart? Cut the legs shorter and put lockable casters on the bottom of the legs. This is just an idea guide.... go and make it your own!
Thanks for reading hope it was helpful.
Runner Up in the