Grit Blogs > The Daily Commute

Homemade Kitchen Island: Project Completed

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

Tags: kitchen island, woodworking, DIY,

 GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.In a mad rush to get our 106 year old farm house ready for a couple of week's worth of family visits, Karen and I put the finishing touches on the kitchen island project. To summarize, this is a project we started almost a year ago, with the sawing of an old dead pine tree into lumber. We later added some home-sawed American black walnut to the mix - from a tree we removed from a pond dam. Sawing our own lumber made the project take longer, but it made our material cost insignificant and allowed us to source hardware from a blacksmith and stools from an artisan maker in Arizona (we gave each other a stool last year for Christmas).

Hank's homemade kitchen island in the kitchen 

Karen finished the kitchen island's base by first sanding and then staining the pine with a walnut stain. The final touch is a single coat of satin enamel that allows some of the stain to show - she was going for an antique look and did an excellent job with it.

Another shot of Hank's homemade kitchen island.  

The towel bars were wrought by a blacksmith friend from Volcano, California. The walnut top was glued up using 5 planks. I added breadboard ends and routed grooves for some slightly contrasting strips between the planks on the upper surface. The top was glued with epoxy to which I added some pecan wood flour as a thickener. The assembled top was then encapsulated with three coats of epoxy (no additives) with an additional 5 coats of satin polyurethane. So far the thick walnut pieces have remained dimensionally stable.

Horizontal shot of Hank's kitchen island 

This shot shows some of the stain bleed-through on the island's base. The overhang is about 12 inches -- those stools have wonderfully wide seats.

We've been using the island for about a month now and it performs very nicely -- even the old fashioned wooden-slide drawers I made. We did soap the slides before inserting the drawers.

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 .