Carter Oosterhouse shows how build a kitchen prep table children can use.
A butcher-block prep station is a fun way to get kids involved helping out in the kitchen. It provides the chef-in-training with their own surface, and can be customized to hold a variety of spoons, mixers, spatulas and other tools. The station is small enough to tuck away beneath a standard counter or peninsula when not being used.
Materials and Tools:
8/4 maple lumber
14 x 3/4-inch maple slats
1. Use the table saw to rip the butcher block to a size suitable for a child to use. Remember to wear safety goggles when working with power tools.
2. Next make the wood skirt base that will serve as the framework for the legs and support for the entire structure. Measure four equal lengths of wood around the perimeter of the butcher block, leaving a modest overhang on two opposing sides of the butcher block. Secure the four pieces vertically with wood glue and nails. Add four smaller wood pieces (cleats) and secure them inside the skirt horizontally, leaving just enough space for the four legs in the corners (figure A).
3. Once the skirt is assembled, place it on the butcher block and drill pilot holes into the inside cleat. Secure the skirt on to the butcher block with screws (figure B).
4. The recommended height for this kids’ prep station is 30 inches, just the right height for a young chef and low enough to be tucked beneath a standard 32-inch countertop when not in use. Measure the 8/4 maple to the appropriate length for the legs, keeping in mind that the butcher block and casters add to the total height.
5. Place glue on one side of the legs, as well as in the area on the butcher block into which the legs will fit. The legs should fit snugly, but a hammer may be required to fit the legs in to place. Using a countersink bit, drill into the legs at an angle toward each corner and then place screws to hold everything in place (figure C).
6. Add shelves to the station with the 3/4-inch maple slats. Start by assembling a square frame that will fit snugly inside the four legs. Assemble the four sides together with wood glue and nails. In order to space the 14-inch slats evenly, hold a 1/4-inch spacer at the center point of the frame and then secure the two adjacent slats with glue and brad nails (figure D). Continue using the spacer to maintain an even gap between slats. Repeat this process for both shelves, continuing out from the center.
7. Lightly hammer the slats down in place for added safety, and sand down the shelves with a sander for a smooth finish and to eliminate splinters.
8. Use a pencil to mark 12 inches above the bottom of the legs. The other shelf will be flush with the bottom of the legs (figure E). Secure the shelves with a dab of wood glue and brad nails, making sure everything is nice and flush. Be sure the nails are on the inside so they won’t be seen.
9. Place casters on the bottom of the legs. You can personalize the prep station by with paint, accessories and decorations.