September 2012


[Note1: This entry was actually written in April 2013. I changed the posting date to keep my blog entries in chronological order]

[Note2: Some of the tasks below require specialized knowledge and skill in electrical installation. If you do not possess this, you should contact a licensed electrician.]

by George Taniwaki

In the original layout of our house, the first thing one saw down the hall after stepping in the front door was the side of the refrigerator (Fig 1a). Not very appealing. Part of the rationale for the kitchen remodel was to improve this view. (In fact, part of the rationale of buying this house was to remodel it.) The design by Soderstrom Architects includes a breakfast bar with stained wood panels, a wide curved black granite countertop, a raised glass countertop, pendant lights hanging from a soffit that matches the curve of the glass, and a backlit wine rack (Fig 1b).

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Figures 1a and 1b. The view from the entry way of the house before the kitchen remodel (top) and after (bottom)

A few side notes regarding Figure 1b. First, we moved the front door opening 10 inches to the left and reversed the swing direction to improve traffic flow. Second, the staircase remodel is still in progress. We completed demolition of the pony wall but can’t continue until we lay the new flooring on the second story. Finally, this blog post will cover design, construction, and installation of the breakfast bar. The wine rack will be covered in an Oct 2012 post.

Similar to the kitchen island (see Sept 2012 post), the breakfast bar is made from IKEA cabinets that are covered in plywood panels. Based on the architect’s drawings, I create a pencil sketch (Fig 2a) and notice that the overhang of the granite countertop will be almost 2-feet and decide to add some brackets to support the weight. A detailed exploded view of the breakfast bar with brackets is shown in Figure 2b.

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Figures 2a and 2b. Pencil sketch of breakfast bar (top) and exploded view of cabinets only (bottom)

Frame the soffit

Before building the breakfast bar which will make access to the ceiling above it difficult, you will want to install the soffit. The soffit acts to emphasize the division of space between the kitchen and the dining room. The shape of the soffit matches the glass countertop and is placed directly above it. Both the soffit and the glass countertop have compound curves. Instructions for creating templates with compound curves are provided in a Sept 2012 blog post.

Using the template, trace out two copies of the soffit shape onto 3/4″ MDF. These will be framing for the top and bottom of the soffit. Draw another line 1/4″ inside the traced line to account for the thickness of the drywall that will be applied to the frame. Cut out the shapes at the inside line using a handheld scroll saw. Stack the two pieces and sand or file the curves until smooth.

On the bottom MDF piece, mark three holes evenly spaced in a straight diagonal line along the midline of the peninsula. Using a hole saw, cut holes sized to hold the electrical boxes for the pendant lights. In the top MDF piece, cut one large hole (about 6″ diameter) near the base of the peninsula so that you can fish the electrical wires with your hands. Use 10.5″ long 2″x4″s as spacers between the top and bottom pieces. Place the faces flat along the edge of the MDF. Hold everything together with deck screws (Fig 3).

Using the template and pencil, trace out the location of the soffit on the ceiling. Make sure the electrical lines are accessible from the ceiling through the hole in the soffit frame. The soffit frame is heavy. To temporarily support the weight, create a scaffold (using two 2″x4″ to create a T-shaped brace). Lift the soffit to the ceiling, align it, and use deck screws to attach it to the ceiling joists (Fig 4).

Install three deep light fixture boxes and complete the rough-in wiring.

Using the template, cut out a piece of 1/2″ drywall and attach it to the bottom face of the soffit. Cover the straight side and the large radius curved side of the soffit with 1/4″ drywall, you may need to wet it down to make it fit the curve. The small radius curve is too tight for 1/4″ drywall, even after wetting it down. Instead, I found that 1/4″ x 3.5″ flexible plastic lawn edging (Casa Verde bender board available from Home Depot) did the trick. Cut pieces to length to wrap around the curve. Use deck screws to attach the strips to the 2″x4″s. Cover the edges of the bender board with paper tape and several coats of rough plaster. Use paper tape on all the edges and add another coat of smooth plaster. The finished soffit is shown in Figure 5.

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Figures 3, 4, and 5. Constructing the soffit

Install the pedestal

After the soffit is in place, we can install the pedestal. The pedestal supports the weight of the cabinets and provides the backing support for the back panels. First, mark the floor in the kitchen where the pedestal will sit. Remember to leave allowance for a toe kick for the front side. For the breakfast bar, the pedestal will be 22″x65-1/2″. Cut four 2″x4″s to fit and use 3″ deck screws to fasten them into the floor joists. Repeat twice to form a three layer stack staggering the joints. This will be 4.5-inch tall. Just the right height for a toe kick, which we will install later.

(For pictures of a similar pedestal, see Figures 2 to 5 of blog post entitled Build a Kitchen Island.)

Cut the panels and molding

There are three panels on the kitchen island. They are made of 3/4″ sande plywood (available from Home Depot) stained, varnished, and engraved with a grid pattern. The technique for making them and the joint that connects the two back panels  is described in an Oct 2012 blog post. Cut the grid pattern to align with the existing pattern on the wall.

There will be two types of molding. L-shaped molding is used on the edges where the side panel meets the front and back. Flat molding is used where the panels meet the floor or countertop. The techniques for making them are described with pictures in the same Oct 2012 blog post.

Cut the brackets and filler blocks

To support the weight of the granite countertop, cantilevered brackets are added to the sides of the IKEA cabinets.

There are three brackets. They are all made of poplar with 2″ x 5″ nominal (1.5″ x 4.5″ actual) cross-section and vary in length. The calculations for determining the appropriate lengths are shown in Figure 6. Make the section of the bracket that is glued to the cabinet 16″ long, if possible, to ensure good support (W1). Make the exposed section of the bracket 2″ shorter than the countertop overhang (W2). The side bracket actually doesn’t provide much support, it is mostly decorative.

To make the brackets, start with two 1″x5″x8′ S4S poplar stock and glue them together. Hand plane (or run them through the jointer) to smooth the glued edges. Cut into three pieces of lengths 30″, 25″ and 11″ and cut one end of each piece at 12.5°. Sand, stain, and varnish the visible portions of the brackets.

The brackets will be attached to the sides of the cabinets and project out the back. The front of the cabinets will need filler blocks. These are made by gluing up two pieces of 1″x2″x8′ S4S poplar stock. Cut into two pieces, each 30-7/16″ long (same height as the IKEA cabinets). Fill, sand, and apply three coats of gloss enamel on all the visible surfaces. Cut the remaining piece of stock in half (each pieces about 17-1/2″ long). These filler blocks will go on the bottom rear of the cabinets. They will not be visible and do not need any finish.

To balance the appearance of the cabinet, a final pair of filler blocks will be added to the right of the cabinet. They will be made from 1″x5″x8′ S4S poplar stock. The front block is cut to 35″ long (it touches the floor) while the back filler block is 30-7/16″ long and not visible. Fill, sand, and apply three coats of gloss enamel on all the visible surfaces of the front filler block.

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Figure 6. Calculations for the bracket dimensions

Assemble the breakfast bar

Unpack the two IKEA cabinets and assemble them. The 36″ cabinet will be on the left closest to the base of the peninsula. The 24″ cabinet will go on the right closest to the tip of the peninsula. Glue and clamp the longest bracket and filler blocks to the left side of the left cabinet (Fig 7). Glue the mid-length bracket and filler blocks to the right side of the cabinet. Glue and clamp the right filler blocks on the right side of the right cabinet (Fig 8). After the glue is cured, set the two cabinets in place, measure the overhang over the pedestal, check for level, shim if necessary, and screw the cabinets down into the pedestal.

Using an oscillating saw or scroll saw, cut notches in the plywood panels for the brackets. Dry fit the panels, glue them to the cabinets and pedestal, and tack them in place with brads driven through the black grid (this will hide them). For the side panel, add several clamps on the joint between the panel and the filler block to make a tight fit that will hide the seam (Fig 9).

Mark the location of the side bracket. Using an oscillating saw or scroll saw, cut notches through the IKEA cabinet and the plywood panel. Cut the bracket flush to the IKEA cabinet to ensure it does not interfere with the opening and closing of the drawer. Attach the bracket to the IKEA cabinet using a joist hanger and add a reinforcing bar at the bottom to keep the bracket from sagging (Fig 10).

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Figures 7 to 10. Assembling the breakfast bar

Fabricate and install the countertops

The technique for creating the templates for the upper glass countertop, the matching soffit, and the base granite countertop is described in a Sept 2012 blog post.

After calling several glass shops we select Peter David Studio of Seattle as our supplier for the upper countertop. They have a very helpful staff and a great selection of glass and fabrication options. We decide on a 1″ thick glass slab with clear sides and a texture called ice glass.

For this project, they make a metal mold based on the template, line it with ceramic fiber cloth, and fill it with broken plate-glass and glass powder (frit). To eliminate the green tint that is visible in regular glass, they add manganese dioxide. It will react with and remove the green ferrous oxide leaving the glass clear. They place the glass-filled mold in a kiln for a few days to melt and fuse the glass. After cooling, the glass slab is cut to size, machined to eliminate any sharp edges, and has a 1/4″ hole drilled through it for the support post. Then it is put back in the kiln at a lower temperature for a few more days to temper it. The final glass has the look of icy clouds in the sky and is shaped like an airplane wing. Both images are very apropos for a home in Seattle, where Boeing has several large facilities (Fig 11).

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Figure 11. The glass countertop seen from above looks like an airplane wing

The glass countertop is connected to the lower countertop with a single 9″ long post. To make the outside of the post, cut a piece of 1″ OD chrome plated steel pipe 9″ long. To make the inside of the post, cut a piece of 1/4″ diameter threaded rod 12″ long. Push a 9″ long piece of 1/4″ ID PVC tubing onto it. To center the post on the threaded bolt, add a 1/4″ fender washer followed by a 1″ OD fender washer to each end of the rod. To eliminate rattle and prevent scratching either of the countertops, add 1″ OD rubber washers on each end. Coat the rubber washers with silver paint to camouflage them. The bottom of the post will pass through the granite countertop and is held in place with a washer and two nuts. The top of the post will pass through the glass countertop and is held in place with a silicone gasket and a brushed nickel cap (Fig 12 and 13).

The other end of the glass countertop will be connected to the wall using two 1/4″ anchor bolts. Cut the bolt ends to 1″ long and cover them with 1/4″ ID PVC tubing (Fig 14).

The template for the granite countertop must be rolled up and shipped to the fabrication plant. The Masonite template made originally cannot be rolled up. Use the rigid template to make a flexible one out of 3″ wide strips of thin flexible PVC hot glued together. Roll up the finished template and ship it to the factory.

The finished lower countertop is 3cm (1-1/4″) thick granite (absolute black anticado from Pental) with a chiseled edge. Once the slab arrives, use black sealant to attach the granite slab to the cabinets. Using the glass countertop template, mark the location for the hole for the support. Use a 1/4″ masonry drill bit to cut the stone.

Using the 9″ steel pipe support as a guide, mark the height on the wall where the top of the PVC tubing should touch the glass countertop. Measure down the distance to the center of the anchor bolts and drill two pilot holes about 2-1/2″ from each end of the glass countertop. Remove the PVC tubing from the anchor bolts, add two nuts to the anchor bolts and use a hex wrench to screw the anchors into the wall. (The wall should have blocking behind it.) Remove the nuts and put the PVC tubing back on. Dry fit the glass countertop. Use masking tape to tape off the wall around the glass countertop. Remove the glass countertop and apply a very thin coat of clear silicone sealant on the edge. Position the glass countertop against the wall, wipe away any excess sealant, and remove the masking tape (Fig 15).

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Figures 12 to 15. Installing the glass countertop

Finish up

Wire the three low-voltage pendant lights from the soffit. Each fixture will have its own step-down transformer hidden inside the electrical box.

This cabinet uses standard IKEA drawers and hardware. Install the drawers  following the directions. Sand the drawer faces (Härlig white) so that paint will adhere. Finish them with two coats of gloss enamel. Install the drawer faces using the IKEA hardware and attach the drawer pulls.

Cut the molding to length, glue it to the cabinet, and tack it in place with brads. Fill the nail holes and touch up with stain (Fig 16).

Cut a length of baseboard and nail it to the exposed pedestal (toe kick) in the front of the cabinet. Fill the nail holes and touch up with paint (Fig 17).

Add two bar stools to complete the breakfast bar. The seats should be adjusted to 26″ height so that your legs will fit under the countertop (Fig 16).

The two sides of the finished island are shown in Figures 16 and 17.

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Figure 16. The finished breakfast bar as seen from the dining room looking toward the kitchen

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Figure 17. The finished breakfast bar as seen from the kitchen looking toward the dining room (the wine bottle has magically moved)

The total cost for the project is itemized below.

Cabinets, including the drawers, doors, and hardware $  400
Lumber, drywall, lawn edging, plaster, and paint $  300
Carpentry, painting, and cabinet installation labor $      0
Electrical materials, pendant lights and 3 transformers $  550
Electrical labor, rough-in and finish $      0*
Countertop materials, 3cm granite slab and fabrication $1950
Countertop materials, 1″ glass slab and parts $2400
Countertop labor, templating and installation $  700
Furniture, 2 bar stools $  400
TOTAL $6700

*I am my own electrical contractor. If you hire this work out, it would add about $300

I spent about 200 hours designing and building the breakfast bar, including making the compound curve template, framing and plastering the soffit, and electrical work.

For more ideas on home remodeling projects see the Home Remodeling Guide.

All drawings and photographs by George Taniwaki

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[Note: This entry was actually written in April 2013. I changed the posting date to keep my blog entries in chronological order]

By George Taniwaki

This blog post describes how to calculate the compound curves and build the templates used in the breakfast bar project described in a separate Sept 2012 blog post. The explanation is a bit geeky and detailed so I separated it from that blog post.

Geometry, algebra, and trigonometry, oh my!

The breakfast bar project includes two countertops, the raised glass countertop (and the matching soffit) and the large granite countertop. Both surfaces are designed as compound curves. The edge of countertop facing the kitchen is straight. This is the edge that will be over the drawers of the cabinets. The edge facing the dining room is a large radius arc. This is edge over the bar stools. A tight radius arc joins these two edges at the end of the peninsula. A perpendicular line joins the straight edge and the large radius arc at the base of the peninsula. A schematic of the shape is shown in red in Figure 1 below.

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Figure 1. Schematic of compound curve

We know the length (L), width (W), and tight radius (r) we want for the countertop. But we don’t know the radius of the large circle (R), the angle (Θ) where the two circles meet, or the distance (Δ) from the point where the large radius intersects the straight side of the countertop to the point where the small circle meets the straight side.

To solve for these dimensions, start by noticing that the center of the large circle (radius R) and the center of the small circle (radius r) and the left edge of the countertop form a right triangle. Label these sides A, B, and C as shown in Figure 1.

The length of the sides of the triangle are:
A = L – r
B = R – (W – r)
C = R – r

Since this is a right triangle, we also have:
A^2 + B^2 = C^2

Substituting and solving for R gives:
R = ((L – r)^2 + (W – r)^2 – r^2) / (2*(W – 2r))

The angle in degrees at which the two circles are tangent is:
Θ = 180 / (π∗arcsin(A/C))

The distance from the lower tangent to the point where the large radius intersects the base is:
Δ = r ∗ tan(Θ) =r ∗ (A/B)

I developed a spreadsheet to handle all the calculations. If you want to design your own countertops, a spreadsheet with instructions is available for download from SkyDrive.

Design specs for the actual countertops

For the breakfast bar project, there will be two countertops. The upper countertop is made of glass and is about two feet wide and four feet long. The base countertop is granite and we want it to have about 12″ of usable space beyond the glass countertop. We also want to make sure the flat edge is long enough to cover the cabinets underneath. Finally, we want the overall length to be as short as possible to give enough space for a person to walk around the peninsula. Another reason for keeping the peninsula short is that someday in the future we may want to replace the refrigerator with a bigger one that may require at least 42″ clearance.

Ultimately, I came up with the following dimensions for the raised glass countertop and matching soffit:

L = 52″, W =19.75″, and r= 5.5″.

Using the spreadsheet gives, R = 133.4″, Θ = 21.3°, and Δ = 2.1″

The granite countertop will have the following dimensions:

L = 78″, W =45.5″, and r= 16.75″.

Using the spreadsheet gives, R = 179.1″, Θ = 22.2°, and Δ = 6.8″

A pencil sketch is shown in Figure 2 below.

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Figure 2. Pencil sketch of the layout of upper and lower countertops

Make the template

Once the dimensions are calculated, you can make the full-size template. Start with a piece of 1/4″ Masonite or similar material large enough to trace the template onto. Cut it into a rectangle just slightly larger than the dimensions of the finished template. Make sure the sides form a right angle by measuring the diagonals.

Pick one corner to be the right angle of the template. Starting from this point, measure the length (L) and width (W) and mark them. Locate the center of the small radius (r) curve and draw it out using a circle guide or beam compass (Fig 3). Locate the point where the radius of the large radius (R) curve will intersect the straight edge (Fig 4). Draw a radius line from this point, through the center of the small curve to the tangent point of the two curves.

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Figures 3 and 4. Laying out the small radius curve

Find an old metal tape rule. Drill a small hole into the 2″ mark and drive a finish nail through it. Hammer the finish nail into a weighted board (Fig 5). Measure out the length of the large radius (R) remembering to add two inches and align the template against the tape rule (Fig 6). Holding a pencil tight against the tape rule, trace out the curve until it is tangent with the small circle (Fig 7). Make sure the tape rule passes through the radius line drawn earlier.

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Figures 5, 6, and 7. Laying out the large radius curve

Use a router with a circle cutting jig to cut out the small arc to the tangent points (Fig 8). Use a scroll saw to cut out the large arc. Be careful to stay outside the line. Sand or file the curve until it is smooth (Fig 9). Repeat for the other template. If the templates are used on cabinets, lay them in position to ensure they fit (Fig 10).

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Figures 8, 9, 10. Cutting out the template and fitting it to the cabinets

All drawings and photographs by George Taniwaki

[Note1: This entry was actually written in March 2013. I changed the posting date to keep my blog entries in chronological order]

[Note2: Some of the tasks below require specialized knowledge and skill in plumbing and electrical installation. If you do not possess this, you should contact a licensed plumber and electrician.]

by George Taniwaki

Our new kitchen has a 54-inch island. It is smaller than the island it replaces. However, it will be more complex because it will include a prep sink (which requires plumbing connections for hot water, cold water, drain, and air admittance valve). It will also include two electrical circuits, a dedicated GFCI line for a garbage disposal and a branch from a separate line for a GFCI outlet. It will also be nicer with full extension drawers to hold pots and pans and cooking utensils. The old island had shelves instead of drawers.

I will build the island by modifying standard IKEA kitchen cabinets and adding a variety of custom wood trim. I could build the carcase from scratch, but really, you can’t beat IKEA kitchen cabinets for price and quality of fit. I will use two cabinets. A 24-inch wide one on the left will be modified to support an undermount sink and a 30-inch wide one on the right will have an electrical outlet mounted on the rear. An exploded view drawing and photograph of the island are shown in Figures 1a and 1b.

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Figure 1a. Exploded view of the kitchen island

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Figure 1b. Top front view of completed island

Constructing the pedestal

After the rough-in plumbing and electrical are installed and the hardwood floor is laid you are ready to build the pedestal. The pedestal will support the weight of the island and protects the plumbing and electrical connections from damage. It also hides these connections from view.

The first step is to mark the floor in the kitchen where the pedestal for the cabinet will sit. Remember to leave allowance for a toe kick on all four sides. For this island, the pedestal will be 19″x50-5/8″. Cut 2″x4″s to fit and use 3″ deck screws to fasten them into the floor joists. Repeat twice to form a three layer stack staggering the joints (Fig 2). This will be 4.5-inch tall. Just the right height for a toe kick.

Next, open the box for the 24″wide IKEA cabinet and find the bottom panel. Using a pencil, mark the bottom of the panel with the outline of the pedestal. Mark the top of the panel with the locations for the holes for the water, drain, and electrical connections (Fig 3). Using Forstner bits or circle cutting bits, drill holes and test for fit (Fig 4). Set the panel aside. Make the toe kick by ripping 1/4″ plywood into 4.5″ strips, fill with putty, sand, and finish with three coats of gloss enamel latex paint. Glue them onto the pedestal and tack into place with brads (Fig 5).

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Figures 2 to 5. Constructing the pedestal for the kitchen island

Making the false legs

There are six legs on the kitchen island. They don’t actually support the weight of the cabinet, they are merely decorative. Notice that there are five different shaped legs (see Fig 1a) though the left and right legs are mirror images.

Begin by forming six pieces of 1.75″x1.75″x48″ S4S stock. Glue up three 1″x5″x8’S4S poplar boards (nominal dimensions, the actual dimensions are 0.75″x4.5″x96″) to form 2.25″x4.5″x96″ stock. Rip this board in half to produce two 2.25″x2.2″x96″ posts. Similarly, glue up three 1″x3″x8’ nominal S4S poplar boards to form a 2.25″x2.5″x96″ post. Cut them in half lengthwise to get six posts 48″ long. Then run the them through a planer until they are 1.75″x1.75″ S4S.

[Note: After building this project I was able to find 1.75″x1.75″x48″ S4S poplar stock at Home Depot. The price is about the same as the wood I purchased, but it obviously saves time to buy stock that is already the correct dimensions.]

Each outside leg wraps around the exterior of the cabinet and stands proud 3/8″. The foot of each leg has a 1-3/4″ square cross-section and is about 4-1/2″ long. When cutting the feet, make them 1/8″ longer than needed and trim them to fit later, to allow for variations in the height of the pedestal.

Using a pencil and square, mark the posts with the necessary cuts to form the legs. The cross-section of each leg is shown in Figure 1. Note the front center leg does not need any cuts.

Remember to always draw an “X” to indicate the scrap (Fig 6 and 7). Stopped cuts in the long direction are made on a table saw with the fence set to make a cut at 1-3/8″ width (adjust for kerf width) and the blade set at 1-3/8″ height. Through cuts for the center rear leg will require two passes. Use masking tape on the saw table and pencil marks on the legs to indicate the limit of the cut so that you don’t saw into the feet (Fig 8 and 9).

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Figures 6 to 9. Cutting the false legs on the table saw

Once the long cuts are complete (Fig 10), cut away the scrap in the short direction using an oscillating saw or hand saw and chisel (Fig 11 and 12). Fill, sand, and apply three coats of gloss enamel on all the visible surfaces and the bottoms of the legs (Fig 13).

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Figures 10 to 13. Finishing the false legs

Making the panels

There are four panels on the kitchen island. They are made of 3/4″ sande plywood. Even though the panels are filled and painted, the grain will be visible, so layout the panels so that the grain runs vertically. After being cut, the visible side of each panel is filled with putty, sanded, and finished with three coats of gloss enamel.

The left and right panels are 24″x30-3/8″. Unpack the box with the 24″ IKEA cabinet and find the left and right side panels. Create a sandwich by gluing the left exterior panel to a pair of 5/8: shims and then to the left side panel of the IKEA cabinet (for a total thickness of 2-1/8″). Repeat with the right panel (Fig 14). Use a level or straight edge to ensure the  panels are flat and not warped.

Even though the fronts of the cabinet are different widths (24″ and 30″), the two rear panels are both the same width (28″ wide) so that the center rear leg is centered on the island. They will be glued onto the top and bottom of the IKEA cabinet carcase. This will be shown in the next section.

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Figure 14. Making the side panels uses 12 clamps

Assembling the island

Unpack the other IKEA cabinet and find the left and right side panels. These panels will need a hole to thread the electrical conduit for the outlet. Drill a 3/4″ hole through these two interior side panels as close to the rear as you can (so that the conduit doesn’t interfere with the drawers) without it getting covered by the filler block to (Fig 15).

Assemble the carcase of the two IKEA cabinets, but do not add the backs yet. Drop the left cabinet over the plumbing connections and fish the electrical connections. Dry fit the front center leg, mark and cut it to length. To fill the gap in the back between the two cabinets, insert a 1.75″ thick filler block. Glue and clamp the two cabinets, front leg and filler block. The front leg is proud of the cabinet by 1-1/8″ while the back filler is flush with the cabinet (Fig 16). Measure the overhang on all four sides to ensure the cabinet is centered over the pedestal. Then check for level, shim if necessary (Fig 17), and screw it down into the pedestal (Fig 18).

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Figures 15 to 18 Attaching the carcase to the pedestal

Attach the IKEA cabinet backs and staple them in place. Dry fit the 3/4″ plywood back panels and the center rear leg, then glue and clamp the panels (but not the leg) in place (Fig 19). Make sure the tops of all panels are flush with the IKEA cabinets. Use a hand plane to trim them if necessary (Fig 20).

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Figures 19 and 20. Attaching back panels and trimming the tops of all panels

Take the five remaining legs and dry fit them, paring the rabbet if necessary (Fig 21). Mark them for length (Fig 22), cut them to length (Fig 23), and glue and clamp them in place (Fig 24).

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Figures 21 to 24 Attaching the legs to the carcase

Wiring the outlets

There are two outlets on separate circuits for the island. Since the wiring is outside the joist space, it needs to run inside metal conduit and terminate in metal outlet boxes. Thread the conduit through the cabinet (Fig 25), attach the box to the conduit, mount the box to the cabinet (Fig 26), and complete the wiring (Fig 27).

One circuit is dedicated for the garbage disposal and is under the left cabinet. Another is a shared circuit for a GFCI outlet flush mounted on the rear of the right cabinet. This outlet is located at the center point between the right rear leg and the center rear leg. Cut a hole through the back of the IKEA cabinet large enough for the outlet box and the mounting flange (Fig 28). Using a drill and scroll saw, cut a hole in the back panel sized to fit the face of the outlet box (Fig 29), and add a face plate (Fig 30).

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Figures 25 to 30. Installing the outlets

Installing the sink

The prep sink is a undermount type. The front rim will be supported by the top panel of the IKEA cabinet. Support the back rim by cutting a piece of 1″x3″ poplar to 22.5″ length and pocket screwing it into the side panels of the cabinet. Mark the center point of each support and mark the center point on the front and rear rim of the sink. Drop the sink in, align the marks, and draw an outline of the rim onto the supports. This outline will ensure the sink is in the right position when you draw the template for the countertop.

(Sorry, no pictures of this.)

Installing the countertop

Make a template of the outline of the countertop using 3″ wide strips of thin flexible PVC hot glued together. The countertop should overhang the legs by 1″ giving it a dimension of 28″x61-1/8″. Use more strips to show the location of all holes. Roll up the finished template and ship it to the factory.

The countertop is 3cm thick granite (absolute black anticado from Pental). The slab and opening for the sink are factory cut. The holes for the faucet, soap dispenser, and garbage disposal switch are cut on-site. Once the slab arrives, mark the location for these holes on the slab and use a drill with a diamond hole cutting bit and dust collection attachment to cut the stone. Use black sealant to attach the slab to the cabinet and to seal the sink to the countertop.

(Sorry, no pictures of this either)

Finish electrical and plumbing

Under the left cabinet, solder the hot water and cold water copper lines to shut off valves. Connect the garbage disposal to the sink. Dry fit the disposal outlet, ABS pipe, sanitary tee, and air admittance valve to the drain and then glue them together with ABS cement (Fig 31). Above the left cabinet, connect the faucet, garbage disposal air switch, and soap dispenser (Fig 32). Finally, wire the ceiling mounted pendant lighting (Fig 33).

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Figure 31 and 32. Finish electrical and plumbing, crowded complexity below, simple beauty above

Installing the drawers, doors, and hardware

This cabinet uses standard IKEA drawers, doors, and hardware. Install the drawers and the door hinges following the directions. Sand the drawer faces and cabinet doors (Härlig white) so that paint will adhere. Finish them with two coats of gloss enamel. Install the drawer faces and doors using the IKEA hardware. Adjust the drawer faces and doors so they lay flat and are square to the cabinet. Find the horizontal midpoint of each drawer face, mark it with a pencil and  use a template to mark the holes for the drawer pulls. (Don’t do this freehand.) Drill 5mm holes for the drawer pulls and attach them using the bolts included with the drawer pulls.

The finished island is shown in Figure 33 below. The total cost for the project is itemized below. As you can see, the cabinets are only a small portion of the total cost.

Cabinets, including the drawers, doors, and hardware $  400
Lumber and paint $  200
Carpentry, painting, and cabinet installation labor $       0
Plumbing  materials, including sink and faucet $  600
Plumbing labor, rough-in and finish $  500
Electrical materials, including pendant lights $  300
Electrical labor, rough-in and finish $       0*
Countertop materials, slab and fabrication $  650
Countertop labor, templating and installation $  350
TOTAL $3000

*I am my own electrical contractor. If you hire this work out, it would add about $500

I spent about 200 hours designing and building the island, including all the electrical work.

33_KitchenIsland

Figure 33. The finished island, view from above, left, front showing ceiling mounted pendant lights

For more ideas on home remodeling projects see the Home Remodeling Guide.

All drawings and photos by George Taniwaki