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Building A Kitchen Island Part 5: Cabinet Doors And Drawer Fronts

| 12/12/2011 10:15:00 AM

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.I took advantage of the somewhat warmer temperatures last weekend to spend a bit of time in the barn working on our kitchen island project. I managed to get the door frames and panels put together and hung, and I also managed to mill and install the drawer fronts. All the pieces will need to come apart again for sanding and finishing, but it was motivating to see the progress and to better visualize what the final piece will look like. So far, all the lumber has been a windfall from the farm. Pine, standing dead for several years in our grove, and American black walnut from trees we dozed off a couple of pond dams. We milled the lumber using an Alaskan chainsaw mill and a Hud-Son homestead-sized bandsaw mill. You can read about all of this in the earlier installments here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

Hank's kitchen island with doors and drawer fronts installed.

Now that the doors and drawers are more or less completed, I cannot wait to work on the kitchen island's black walnut top.

Hank's kitchen island door framing joint.

I cut open mortises on the stiles (upright framing members) and tenons on the rails (horizontal framing members) for the kitchen island's cabinet doors. The open mortise and tenon joint also goes by the names: "corner bridle joint" and "slot mortise and tenon." Don't you just love language? I did all of this machining with my table saw and cleaned things up with a 1/4-inch chisel.

Hank's kitchen cabinet door frame corner detail.

Joshua Johnson
12/20/2011 12:59:57 AM

Hello Hank. I would like to let your followers know about our DIY wood countertops. They would make a great finishing touch to your island cabinet. Web page is Thanks for letting me comment.

Nebraska Dave
12/13/2011 7:16:11 PM

Hank, you have done a splendid job on explaining each step and giving details about how you did every joint. I went through a stage in life where I wanted to craft wood as you are doing but that desire is long gone. I admire those that still have that interest and have the equipment to do the cuts for the lumber and hand tools for the finish work. I too like the rustic look of furniture. This piece will be a great asset to the kitchen. I hope you will be able to use it after putting all that work into it. I always had a tendency to want my build projects to be a show piece. Have a great day in the wood working barn.

Hank Will_2
12/12/2011 12:13:39 PM

Dave -- I don't think I have the skills to do a blind mortise except in very large dimensions. I thought about trying that joint on this project, but Karen likes the through-tenon look ... and the base is likely to be stained with a covering stain or possibly painted. The planer brushes went on Sunday and I think I found replacements online. Meanwhile, I may surface the top with hand planes since I was careful to saw them uniformly thick. I am really pleased with how the grain on that walnut looks. Thanks!

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