Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kitchen Island: The Post of All Posts

I am probably more excited about this project than any other one.  Partly because Joe did most of it, but mostly because I am in love with the result.

We have a large amount of floor space in our kitchen (corner kitchen) that we didn't ever use, and a limited amount of storage and counter space.  So the idea was to create an island.  My initial idea was to use an old dresser, painted up to be pretty.  However, I couldn't find anything the right height to use as more counter space.  Second idea was to buy prefabricated cupboards and make a top for them.  That idea = expensive, and also we don't have a truck, so I didn't have any way of getting said cupboards home.

Enter my very talented (and very interested in woodworking) husband.

He made me one.

The original idea was this:  use banister spindles for the ends of railings as corner pieces to add interest, and use other lumber to make sides, top, and shelves.

Here is the magical part:  Once upon a time, Joe's Grandpa used to have the sawmill come in and pay him so they could cut down big trees from his timber.  About 25 years ago, they did this and his Grandpa had them cut down two mature trees and saw them into rough-hewn boards for him.  What type of trees were they, you ask?  Oh, just a cherry tree and black walnut tree. Yeah, just.

Then, little Joe grew up and 25 years later his Dad and Grandma said that sure, he could use those boards to make his wife a kitchen island.  His wife was ecstatic.  So Joe went down and with the help of his Dad, made me something beautiful.  Thanks, honey.

Below is a mostly pictorial story of how it was made.  I don't go into the building process much because a) I don't know that much, and b) let's be serious, how many of us are going to undertake this project?  But if you have any specific questions, let me know and I'll pass them along.

Once Upon a Time,

Wood As-Found after 25 years of storage in an old shed.  The birds apparently like that shed, too.
The right piece of this is walnut.  The white strip on the right side is the "Sapwood," the softer wood on the outside of the tree.

After some had been planed down
As the top is being assembled. 
These are grooves in the trim pieces for the top.
This is the tongue that will go into the groove of the trim.  Joe used a router (his new toy) to tongue and groove the whole top.
This is a process he did to "raise the grain."  You wet the wood, let it dry, and sand it.  The wood absorbs water & expands, then you sand it back to smooth.  Joe did it, I think, 4 times.  It keeps the grain from raising when you finish it.
Getting ready to stain the cherry wood.  We taped off the walnut because it didn't need a stain.  It's that dark all on its own.  And Joe rounded over the edge with a router.
Cherry after the stain is applied
The top and sides after staining.
I picked up these banisters for $5 apiece at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and stained them with a walnut stain.  Joe made grooves in them so that the sides and back slid right in.
Here it is with its ugly plywood top (just to give it stability and to screw the frame to).

AND HERE SHE IS!!!  Nice and Decorated for Christmas.  The sides have two coats of polyurethane, and after seven coats of polyurethane, waiting for a week and then rubbing out the finish with steel wool and finishing off with a coat of paste wax, that top, that beautiful top, is done.
We added hooks on the side to hang towels.
Here is a shot of the top.
Lots O' Storage...of course, already full.
And this burling in the walnut makes me drool.  I keep telling Joe that "You can't fake that, only God can make something that beautiful." 

 The End.


  1. Excellent work Joe! I'm almost jealous :D (Need a spoon to compliment that? ;))


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