Building a Birch Kitchen Island

John and Jimmy DiResta build a custom kitchen island with a birch countertop and a slide-out butcher block. They add a custom base with storage bins, a recessed bowl and a steel pot rack.

HBROS-209_Potrack

Materials and Tools:

two cherry 3-3/4x35-1/4" english country style double-square legs
two beech 73-1/4x25-5/8" butcher blocks
three 4x8sheets of 3/4" birch plywood
three 4x8 sheets of 1/2" birch plywood
21 feet of 1-inch diameter hollow steel piping (not threaded)
30 feet 1/2-inch square steel rods
1 foot of 1-inch angle iron
4 industrial wheels with metal plates
1 18-inch diameter stainless steel mixing bowl
four to six 3/4-inch 8x8 oak planks
one can of black, high-heat spray paint
one gallon of polyurethanetable saw
chop saw
band saw
metal cutting saw
jigsaw
wood glue
nail gun/nails
drill/screws/set screws
router
stand-up sander
sandpaper
hammers for shaping metal
anvil
torch
arc welder/gloves/welder’s mask
paper/pencil
measuring tape
brushes

HBROS-209_BirchPlywood

Steps:

1. Cut three sheets of 4x8, 3/4-inch birch plywood using a table saw into 73-inch by 64-inch width for breaking it up into the cubby exterior. The cubby interior is 30-inches high and there will be a 4-inch open compartment at the top to accept the sliding butcher block.

HBROS-209_BasketHoles

2. Cross-cut the birch plywood using a chop saw into 18 cubby holes that are 10x8x12-inches, and follow the measurements appropriately as above. Attach using wood glue and a nail gun.

3. Cut a 73-1/4 inch by 25-5/8 inch beech butcher block into an 11-inch width and 3-foot length to act as a sliding cutting board within the top compartment. It will add 20 inches of counter space.

HBROS-209_CuttingBoard


4. Using a jigsaw, cut more of the plywood into a 3x3-inch L-shape to sit at the end of the top to accept the butcher block. Two L-shapes will go respectively on the very sides of the top compartment. Using plywood, cut out two 3-1/2x5-inch blocks to act as stoppers for the sliding butcher block. Glue and nail them into place right behind the rails against either side, leaving a 1/2-inch gap between the top of the stopper and the top of the island.

5. With a table saw, cut some 3/4-inch oak planks into 1/4-inch strips to fit, as edges of the cubby holes. Glue and nail them into place.

6. Using a jigsaw, cut a circle in the final 73-1/4 by 25-5/8 inch beech butcher block that is about 1/2-inch less than the diameter of the stainless steel measuring bowl, and is 9 inches from one side of the top. Use the router to carve a 1/2-inch lip within the hole to accept the bowl. Sanding is required.

7. To create the cover for the hole, rub a pencil on a piece of paper across the hole to get an accurate diameter. Use that paper circle as a template to trace to butcher block. Cut out the circle, and use a stand-up sander to fit. For a tighter fit, router a 1/2-inch lip into the circle so it fits snugly in the inner hole.

8. Cut two cherry 3-3/4 by 35-1/4 inch English country legs with double-square ends to fit between 3/4-inch below the bottom of the island and the very top of the island using a chop saw.

9. To create leg supports, use a chop saw and table saw to cut oak planks that are 4-1/2 inches wide and 23-inches long. They will stick out from the bottom on either end of the island. Pre-drill supports and set screws in preparation for the legs. Screw the legs into the supports.

10. Cut braces from plywood that are about 4x4-inches under the butcher block to accept screws for countertop. Drill into the sides rather than straight through.

HBROS-209_PolyEnglishLegs


11. Screw in the legs, clamping them on the supports to keep them in place, and then screw in the countertop from the sides. Pre-drill and screw in wheels. Flip the island on its side to make this easier.

12. Using a table saw, begin cutting the birch plywood into three 4 by 8-foot, 1/2-inch planks to make 18 bins that are 6-inches high, 10-inches wide and 13-inches long. The sides should be set at an angle, glued and nailed, and sanding is recommended. A curved 1-inch indentation can be worked into two of the sides to act as handles using a band saw.

HBROS-209_JimmyWelding


13. To create the pill-shaped pot rack at the very top, use a metal cutting saw, a torch, hammers and an anvil to cut and shape two 80-inch pieces of 1/2-inch square steel rods into curved halves. At their meeting point, arc weld 1-inch steel piping; cut to 30 to 35 inches for each support pipe. To attach the pipes to the island, use a 4-inch piece of angle iron to act as a screw plate. Weld one to each pipe.

14. Using leftover 1/2-inch square steel, cut out 24 hooks for the rack. Each vertical steel piece hanging from the top contains two hooks, one on each side. Weld them appropriately.

HBROS-209_Potrack

15. Paint the pot rack using black, high-heat spray paint. When dry, attach to the island using the screw plates.

HBROS-209_JohnPolyurathene

16. Apply polyurethane to the bottom portion of the island, the legs and the drawers for a finish.

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