How To Build an Elegant Industrial Kitchen Island

A custom kitchen island with reclaimed charm inspired by DIY Network Ultimate Retreat 2017 is the perfect finishing touch to any gathering space. Get step-by-step instructions for building your own.

Photo By: Christopher Shane

Photo By: Christopher Shane

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: DYLAN_EASTMAN

Photo By: Christopher Shane

Getting Started

A kitchen island doesn't always have to match your other kitchen cabinets. Often times, we see islands built with matching base cabinets and countertops to the rest of the kitchen. If additional storage is needed, this can be a logical solution. In our case, we wanted to keep an open look, create a small eating bar, and counter balance the traditional look of the other base cabinets with an industrial flair.

What You'll Need

Materials: Industrial table base (appr. 32” x 72”), 32 board feet of 5/4 S4S Oak, (2) stainless steam pans, (1) stainless drip tray, (3) cans hammered spray paint, (2) stainless S-hooks, type 2 wood glue, wood biscuits or tenons, 1 1/4” pocket screws, 1/2” wood screws, polyurethane

Tools: Angle grinder with cut off blade, biscuit or tenon joiner, 48” bar clamps, pocket hole jig, drill, jig saw, 7 1/4” circular saw with rip fence or track, corner jig or clamp, orbital sander and 120/220 grit discs, foam brushes, steel wool, router with 1/8” round over, 1/4” drill bit

Time: 8 hrs

Cost: $800

Step One

Make a plan. Drawing your project out at the beginning helps in planning materials, size, and placement. In the case of our island, we also wanted to incorporate a waterfall edge to help create a more organic look to the other wise industrial base.

Step Two

Instead of having one large expanse of a countertop, consider to adding some features like a mini herb garden and drip tray. Not only can you add some fresh flavor while entertaining guests but you don't even have to worry about them leaving water rings on your new island. Measure the outer dimensions of each and transfer these to the top of the metal base.

Step Three

Using an angle grinder, cut out these sections. Be sure to wear protective gloves and glasses.

Step Four

Because we wanted our island to contrast the kitchen base cabinets, we painted it darker with hammered black spray paint.

Step Five

While the paint is drying, start prepping the wood top. To make the job easier, ask for wood that is straight lined and sanded 4 sides. This will save on time and remove the need for some more advanced tools. We sourced enough material to make a 4' x 8' top. This gave enough additional area to trim to size and make a waterfall edge. Mark each piece 12” on center and use a joiner to create slots for biscuits or tenons.

Step Six

Because we weren't assembling this top in a shop, we also placed pocket holes on the bottom of each piece to help pull them tight while the glue dries. This would also let us take the clamps off sooner which was needed for a quick build during the show.

Step Seven

Put Type II wood glue on each biscuit or tenon as well as the edge faces of each board.

Step Eight

Assemble the boards together, making sure to line up the slot locations.

Step Nine

To ensure the top glues up nice and flat, lay it out on a stable and level work surface with bar clamps.

Step Ten

As you tighten the bar clamps, the glue will slowly be pushed from joints. If the top bows at all from the pressure, add some cross clamps to flatten it. Then install pocket screws for the final join.

Step Eleven

Allow the glue to dry over night, then scrape off the extra glue making sure not to gouge the wood.

Step Twelve

For the waterfall edge, use a good sharp circular saw and rip fence or a track guide to cut the end piece off with a 45 degree undercut. Then trace out a free hand organic shape. If you look at our's sideways, you will notice it resembles Vermont.

Step Thirteen

Clamp the piece to a work surface and use a sharp jig saw to cut out the shape.

Step Fourteen

Test fit the two pieces together to make sure the wood grain aligns and the two 45 degree angles fit together well. If not, you can trim them slightly again, noting the amount of angle adjustment you need.

Step Fifteen

Now is a good time to give the waterfall edge a good sanding prior to the glue up.

Step Sixteen

Using a corner clamp or 90 degree jig, glue up and attach the waterfall edge to the top.

Step Seventeen

Use additional clamps to pull the joint together.

Step Eighteen

Allow the glue up to dry for 24 hours.

Step Nineteen

For the herb garden (steam trays) and drip tray, mark out their locations and double check to the holes cut in the metal top.

Step Twenty

Using a plunge cut or jig saw, cut out the marked locations. Since the steam trays have a drop in lip, the hole doesn't have to be perfect. However, since the drip tray is flush mount, take your time and finish with a chisel if need be.

Step Twenty-One

To soften the edge, use a hand router and 1/8” round over bit around all edges.

Step Twenty-Two

Using an orbital sander, finish sand all glue joints and edges with 120 then 220 grit paper.

Step Twenty-Three

Finish with polyurethane in your choice of sheen.

Step Twenty-Four

Allow to dry then steel wool in between three successive coats.

Step Twenty-Five

Set the top in place and fasten from below with (4) 1/2” wood screws in each corner. Drill the holes through the metal top with a 1/4” drill bit. This will allow the screw to move slightly as the top expands and contracts with changes in humidity. Only tighten the wood screws slightly.

Enjoy Your Custom Kitchen Island

Not only is this island easy to build, but it also makes quite a sophisticated statement. Fresh herbs, a cantilevered bar top, and a mix of wood and steel complement this kitchen perfectly.