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Building A Kitchen Island Part 2: Working With Hand Tools

| 11/8/2011 12:50:00 PM

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.For me, building a kitchen island with wood grown and milled into lumber on my farm is a labor of love. It's also slower than if I bought all the materials and didn't take the time to appreciate the process itself. In the first installment, I reported on using my drill press to rough out the mortises for the front and back frames. I decided to switch to hand tools for cutting the mortises for the framing members that connect the front and back and that will support the drawers. I still used the table saw to form the tenons. I was surprised at how easy it was to square and plumb the assembled frame. My thoughts are now aimed at completing the drawer slide framing, building drawers and then milling more lumber for the sides, back and cabinet doors.

Kitchen island frame is nearly complete.  

I used a level concrete floor to plum and square the kitchen island's mortised and glued frame. In this shot I have not yet removed excess glue -- yes, I used Gorilla glue just like last time and it expands a bit as it cures and pushes out of the seams.

Some of the and tools used to assemble the Kitchen Island.  

Chopping mortises is much easier if you remove as much material as you can with a boring tool of some sort. The ships auger chucked into an old fashioned brace makes for easy boring. Take care to keep the bit plumb and you'll have an easy time cleaning the excess material out with a pair of heavy-duty mortising chisels and mallet.

Clamping the homemade kitchen island's farme 

Hank Will_2
11/14/2011 12:09:36 PM

Hey Eric, thanks for the kind words. When I was building boats, I really enjoyed the quiet rythms and I really enjoyed sharpening cutting tool edges. Dave, you are always too kind. I have nothing against power tools and have deep respect for folks like you that can make them do all kinds of things I would never think of. Dave, I really appreciate your comment and I'm glad to know that somewhere out there another overbuilder exists. I so much enjoy taking old rusty or chipped tools and working them back into shape before then putting them to productive use. My whole life I've only purchased two ships augers new and I have about ten in 4/8 size. :-) I'm hoping to get back to this project before Thanksgiving and it might involve milling more boards. Thanks all.

Dave Larson
11/11/2011 5:30:47 PM

Hank, that is one impressive project. As folks back in Minnesota farm country might say, "It's built for stout." I carry those same genes. I typically think about how strong to make a piece and then double it. I am so impressed by the quality of hand-hewn craftsmanship in this project. I love working with old hand tools. Much of my shop is furnished from farm auctions in MN and I wouldn't part with them. I look forward to the continued development of this project. It sure looks good at this point. Enjoy your weekend!

Nebraska Dave
11/10/2011 4:48:05 PM

Hank, looks like you are moving right along with your island project. Using all hand tools is special. I don't think I could drill a plumb hole with an auger bit just as I can't saw a straight line with a hand saw. I thank the good Lord for the power tool inventions. I love to feel a good motor vibrating in my hand. It doesn't mean that I don't know how to use hand tools. It just means that it doesn't turn out to well if I use them. Hank, you are a true craftsman of the pioneer kind. Although I'm going to have to learn how to do that branch gate stuff as I'll have lots of sapling branches to work with as I clear the Terra Nova Gardens property. I should be about a week or so away from the next step in the process. I would say that if the now owner of the property hasn't responded by now that he/she won't be responding to the notice sent to them. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your culinary partner in crime.

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