Grit Blogs > The Daily Commute

Building A Kitchen Island Part 4: Creating Drawer Boxes

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

Tags: kitchen island, woodworking, diy,

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.(1)Just a quick update on my kitchen island project. Last weekend I built the drawer boxes and framed one of the doors before deciding it was just too cold and damp to linger out in the barn any longer. I thought about hooking up the portable propane forced air heater but opted to let the glue cure in the barn's small heated laundry room instead. If you remember, in the first part of this project, I milled some dead pine, re-sawed and planed it and then started constructing the island's frame. In the second installment, I completed most of the frame using hand tools and in the third installment, I framed the drawer slides and milled and planed additional lumber for the ends and back. My goal is to have this piece finished by Christmas -- I might not make it, but I will try.

Hank's Kitchen Island with drawer boxes built and inserted into the slides 

Here's the kitchen island with all three drawer boxes inserted  into the slides. I will make faces to cover the visible ends of the drawers once I build and fit the cabinet doors. I'm going to leave the slides as they are -- with a little sanding and waxing -- and see how it goes before considering installation of some nylon or teflon glides.

A completed drawer box for Hank's kitchen island. 

I built the drawer boxes using pine that I sawed from a dead tree. I planed the front, back and sides down to 1/2-inch thick. The bottom is right at 1/4-inch thick and it sits in a groove around the bottom of the front and sides. The back sets down on the bottom and I pinned it with a couple of small finishing nails.

Drawer box detail on Hank's kitchen island. 

I apologize for the location of the focal point in this photo -- or the focus point, more truthfully. My phone's camera isn't too sophisticated. However you can see that I joined the corners of the drawer boxes using interlocking dados and rebates. I made the cuts with the table saw and cleaned them out with a 1/4-inch chisel. It took a little dinking to get everything to fit nice and snug but once it did, the boxes pretty much squared up on their own. All the joints are glued with Gorilla wood glue. Molly the Border Terrier is my faithful woodworking companion. Here she is taking a break from tracking down rodents to look over my handiwork. You can also see that I have days of sanding ahead of me, but I find that to be fairly relaxing work.

Hank's homemade kitchen island with all three drawer boxes standing proud of the frame. 

It feels like this project is finally coming together. The drawer boxes actually slide easily and land square with the front, even with a 10-pound weight in them. I would have continued on to the cabinet doors, but the weather chased me in on Saturday. And on Sunday, I stayed indoors to write a chapter for the book Karen Keb and I are writing together. It's called Plowing With Pigs and is about all kinds of 21st-Century homestead solutions, including making stuff with materials you can get for free. Stay tuned for more information on the book and on this project.


Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .