I’ve teamed up with Kreg Tool Company to show you how to make a farmhouse kitchen island!
We have a medium sized kitchen with a fair bit of counter space. The only trouble is that all of our counter space is broken up into short sections. Having a kitchen island will provide us with a central space to drop groceries and prep meals with ease. There’s a big bonus to this kitchen island as well! We’ve built in storage for our trash can to free up a little floor space and improve the appearance of our kitchen.
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Here are the tools and items I used for the project:
- Lumber of choice – counter top
- Poplar – face frame
- Plywood – 3/4″
- Plywood – 1/4″
- MDF – 3/4″
- MDF – 1/2″
- Wood screws – 1″
- Drywall screws – 1-1/4″
- Pocket hole screws – 1-1/4“
- Pocket hole screws – 2″
- Washers – #10
- Dap Plastic Wood
- Space Balls
- Drawer pulls
- 22″ full extension drawer glides
- Stain – Varathane – Briarsmoke
- Stain Blocking Primer – General Finishes
- Milk Paint – custom color – General Finishes
- High Performance Top Coat – Satin – General Finishes
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- Break Down Plywood
- Assemble Kitchen Island Base
- Kitchen Island Face Frame
- Install Trim
- Assemble Drawer Boxes
- Build False Drawer Fronts
- Install Drawers
- Install False Drawer Fronts
- Make Countertop
- Paint, Stain, & Finish
- Final Assembly
Break Down Plywood
To start off, I used the Kreg ACS (review here) to break down the large sheets of plywood into more manageable pieces. This saves my back and makes the subsequent cuts on the table saw easier.
I cut all of the pieces to final size on the table saw per my plans.
Assemble Kitchen Island Base
Assembly time means one thing for cabinetry projects in my shop- it’s time to break out the Kreg Foreman and knock out those pocket holes!
I temporarily hold the cabinet together with parallel clamps and use 1-1/4″ pocket hole screws to secure it together. This assembly process is fast and quite strong.
Kitchen Island Face Frame
I went through the standard milling process to make 3/4″ lumber for the face frame. However, you can certainly purchase 3/4″ boards from most big box hardware stores and lumber yards if you prefer.
Following my plans, I cut the face frame parts to final size. I then drilled 2 pocket holes in each end of pieces 6, 7, 8, & 10.
With this done, I shifted to assembly and used a combination of face frame clamps and parallel clamps to assemble the face frame. Note to self… Build an assembly table with T-Track in it to make assembling face frames easier!
With the face frame assembled (and square!) I grabbed my glue bottle and brad nailer. I ran glue along the front edge of the kitchen island base and then centered the face frame on the kitchen island base and secured it with 2″ brads about every 6″.
Once the glue is cured, I use a flush trim bit in my router to make the face frame flush with the sides of the kitchen island.
After that, I putty any seams or nail holes in the face frame.
Install Trim on Base
At this point, I mitered the boards (pieces 14 & 15) that go along the base and attached them with glue and brads.
Then I cut a 45 down one edge of each board (piece 16) that makes up the corner trim and attached them with glue and brads.
With all of the trim installed, I putty any seams or nail holes in the trim.
Assemble Drawer Boxes
These drawers are assembled with pocket holes while the bottom panel fits inside of a groove. I drill for pocket holes as shown on the plans and cut the grooves on the table saw.
Once things are ready to assemble, I use parallel clamps to hold the parts in place and secure them together using 1-1/4″ pocket hole screws.
Build False Drawer Fronts
If you’re not up for building 5 piece drawer fronts (which is its own little project) you can certainly just use a flat piece of plywood or MDF for the false front. If you’re up for a little skill building, then lets get into it!
I made these false drawer fronts with 3/4″ poplar for the rails and stiles and 1/2″ MDF for the center panel. Once the rails, stiles, and center panels are cut to their final sizes, I head over to the router table.
I’m using the tongue and groove router bit set by Freud exclusively to make all of the joinery cuts for these false drawer fronts. I first set up the groove bit to cut a 1/4″ wide slot centered on the rails and stiles.
Next I switch out for the tongue bit, and set up to cut a 1/4″ wide tongue centered on the stiles. I cut a tongue in each end of the stiles.
The final step before assembly is to cut a rabbet around the edges of the MDF center panel. I do this by raising the tongue cutter so that a 1/4″ tongue is formed on the top edge of the MDF panel.
To assemble the false drawer fronts, I first glue 2 stiles into the rails.
I then place space balls in the grooves and slide the center panel in place.
Finally, I put glue on the other end of each stile, put space balls in the last rail, and clamp the assembly together. I check for square and make sure the ends of the rails and stiles are flush with one another.
Next up is to install the drawer slides. For this we’re going to first add some drawer slide spacers to the kitchen island base.
I cut two strips of plywood (lengths specified in plans) to set the height where the drawer slide spacers need to be installed. This not only makes setting the location easier, but also ensures that the spacers are parallel to the bottom of the base. I start with the top drawer’s spacers and then work my way down. By doing this, I only need one set of plywood strips, and I just cut them down to the next length needed.
To install the drawer slides, I simply hold the slide flush with the inside surface of the face frame and flush with the bottom of each drawer slide spacer. I secure each drawer slide with the screws that are included. To install the drawer to the slides, I set the bottom drawer on scrap blocks inside the cabinet and pull out the drawer just enough to secure the slides with a screw in the first holes of each slide. I then pull the drawer out a bit more until I can secure it with an additional screw in the center holes. Next I pull the drawer out completely and run a screw through the last holes and re-install the drawer box.
Rinse and repeat until each of the drawer boxes are installed.
Install False Drawer Fronts
At this point, I drilled for the drawer pulls. First I laid down blue painters tape in the approximate area that I’d be drilling. Then I measured the hole spacing of my pulls and transferred those measurements to the false drawer fronts (onto the blue tape). I used a brad point 3/16″ bit to drill the screw holes.
Now to attach the false fronts, I use a scrap of 3/4″ plywood or MDF as a spacer on top of the base trim and against the right side trim.
I then place the large false drawer front against the spacer blocks and face frame. Using 4 1-1/4″ drywall screws and washers, I secure the false drawer front to the drawer box.
Repeat this process for the remaining drawer fronts and you’re ready to move on.
Now for the countertop! You can certainly use any material you want, but we opted to go with white oak. We won’t be using this counter top as a cutting surface, so oak is just fine. If you want to make this a butcher block surface, I’d recommend building it from hard maple.
The lumber I had on hand was 5/4, but we wanted a 1-1/2″ finished thickness. So, I simply milled up the lumber and glued up two panels about 17″ wide. I then planed each panel to 1″ thick and glued them together, doing my best to make them flush.
Next we scabbed on a 1/2″ of material around the underside to give the appearance of a thicker countertop. This is the exact same method that’s used for most kitchen countertops!
If you have 8/4 stock, I’d just make the countertop solid and save the time of scabbing on a layer of wood around the outside.
Paint, Stain, & Finish
So you’ve built an amazing kitchen island and you’re ready to paint, but ahhhhh! Painting is so scary and time consuming and I used MDF, OMG how do I paint MDF without it looking terrible!?!?! Relax.
For that pesky MDF, first seal it with 2 light coats of shellac. Then on the edges of the trim, apply an even layer of Plastic Wood putty. Let the putty dry fully, then sand it back nice and smooth with 220 grit paper. Next, apply 1-2 coats of primer on all of the painted surfaces.
For the paint color, we mixed up our own blend of General Finishes Milk Paint. We used 2 parts Driftwood, 2 parts Seagull Gray, and 1 part Antique White. Whatever color you choose, apply 2-3 coats. We chose to apply the paint with an HVLP gun and a 1.8 mm tip, but you can also apply it with a foam brush. What’s nice is that you can sand back this paint easily to smooth out any drips or imperfections before sealing with General Finishes High Performance Top Coat. We went with the satin sheen and used 2 coats.
For the countertop, we stained it with one application of Varathane’s Briarsmoke. After the stain cured for 72 hours, we applied 3 coats of General Finishes High Performance Top Coat.
With everything painted, stained, and top coated, we’re ready for final assembly!
With a 3/16″ drill bit, drill 3 holes in each stretcher. These holes allow for the screws that attach the countertop to shift with seasonal movement.
To attach the counter top, center it on the kitchen island and secure it with 2″ pocket hole screws through the pre-drilled holes.
Go Build One!
Well, what do you think? Ready to build one for your home? Head over to buildsomething.com, Kreg’s DIY project plan site, and get to it! Make sure you snap a photo and tag Woodshop Mike on Instagram with (#woodshopmikeibuiltit) to share your build!
As always, if you have any questions, let me know. And until next time, have fun making something!
Kreg Tool provided me with product and/or monetary compensation as a sponsor of this build. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the sponsor. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. My post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.