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How to Frame an Outdoor Kitchen Counter

The first step in building an outdoor kitchen is framing the kitchen counter, which begins with construction of the sub-structure for the main counter unit.

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establish cabinet height and back wall braces Watch Video

Step 1: Mark the Arbor Site

Lay out and mark the post positions for the arbor. This arbor will cover both the kitchen counter and raised seating area, so it's critical that the locations of the arbor support-posts are square. In that way, the other elements of the outdoor kitchen will fall into place more easily.

lay out and mark the post positions for the arbor

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 2: Align the Layout.

Once the post locations have been marked, base all measurements on those marks. This will ensure that the counter is square to the posts. Snap chalk lines to provide an accurate layout (Image 1). Scrap blocks of wood can be used as a template to trace the locations for the posts (Image 2). Note: The posts used in this project were 6x6 stock. In actuality, a "6x6" post is really 5 1/2" by 5 1/2", the measurements used for our templates.

Step 3: Frame in Kitchen-Counter Unit

Using a miter saw, also called a chop saw, cut the 2x4's to length for the back wall of the counter according to the design plans. Our plans called for vertical support 2x4's for the back wall to be cut to a length of 40" (Image 1). Framing Tip: Most tape measures used for construction today have red marks at 16", 32" and so on specifically for use in framing. The overall length for our kitchen counter is 159". After cutting our top and bottom 2x4's to 159", we measured and marked a location at 3/4" below our red indicator marks to indicate the locations for the uprights (Image 2).

Step 4: Scribe and Mark the Boards

Use an awl to scribe a line across both boards at those locations, and mark the locations with an X to indicate the positioning of the vertical studs.

mark boards for positioning of vertical studs

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 5: Create the Frame

Once they're all cut, place the 2x4 supports every 16" between the long boards and secure them with screws to create the frame. After attaching the frame, cut two pieces of 3/4" plywood to cover the framework.

place supports every 16 inches to create frame

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 6: Attach Wood to Frame

Attach the plywood to the outside of the frame using 3 1/2" decking screws.

attach the plywood to the outside of the frame

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 7: Mark for Screws

Using the screws on the outside board as a guide, mark a line indicating the location of the studs to show where the screws will need to go to fasten the plywood to the studs.

make marks to indicate location of studs

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 8: Place the Screws

Go back and follow your marks, placing screws along the line to hold the plywood into place. The goal is to have the back wall be as strong as possible, and accurately marking the locations of the studs will make sure that fasteners, placed every few inches along each line, will help create a sound structure.

goal is to have back wall be as strong as possible

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe

Step 9: Fix Cabinet Height

The next step is to establish the cabinet height and placement of the cabinet's back-wall support-braces. Based on the plans, measure the dimensions of each cabinet and cut a 2x4 block to length for each one. Screw the blocks to the back wall where the cabinets will be placed.

establish cabinet height and back wall braces

Courtesy of Lucie Rowe