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 .

hank will
12/10/2012 3:24:21 PM

Thanks, Frank. I would only encourage you.


hank will
12/10/2012 3:23:45 PM

David, the epoxy encapsulation takes care of the wood moving around too much. I learned that back in my boat-building days.


hank will
12/10/2012 3:22:37 PM

Thanks! We occasionally cut a slice of cheese on it, Robyn, but mainly use it as a surface. We have lots of cutting boards for hard-core cutting, slicing and chopping.


robyn dolan
11/29/2012 4:10:11 PM

Beautiful work! Question - are you using the wood top for cutting? I assume not, with that lovely epoxy finish...love reading about your projects.


frank mueseler
10/4/2012 10:17:27 PM

You are so handy, looks good. I might try something like this. Have some walnut lumber that came from our farm .Frank Mueseler


david peerboom
8/20/2012 2:08:20 AM

I was just wondering about having issues with wood splitting? Do you seem to ever run into this? Are there good ways to prevent it?