Introduction

kitchen island with a butcher-block surface
Photo: Van Chaplin
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If you're going for homey and cozy in your kitchen, skip the built-in cabinet-base island and instead make the central work area a furniturelike table with a butcher-block counter. Because these thick wood-slab tops have their edge or end grain exposed, they are stronger than wood laid on the flat. That means they resist warping and nicks better than laminate and almost as well as stone.

With this durability comes an old-fashioned warmth. The trend for wood and furniture in the kitchen is in full swing, and butcher-block islands mimicking 19th-century worktables are perfect for toning down the coldness of stone counters and metal appliances in modern cook spaces. You can bring this classic aesthetic to your kitchen by constructing a prep island from easy-to-buy materials or choosing one of the dozens of styles available through retailers and furniture makers. Whichever path you choose, you'll end up with an island that can be at the center of the cooking action and still take whatever you can dish out.
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    Tools List

    • jigsaw
      Jigsaw
    • speed square
      Speed square
    • drill
      Drill/driver, ½-inch bit, and 1-inch forstner bit
    • caulk gun
      Caulk gun
    • putty knife
      Putty knife
    • paintbrush
      Paintbrush

    Shopping List

    1. Butcher block. Order a 36-by-48-inch block.

    2. Poplar 2x4 to build the legs. Get four 6-footers.

    3. Poplar 2x6 to build the apron. Get two 6-footers.

    4. Poplar 2x3 to frame the bottom shelf. Get an 8-footer and a 6-footer.

    5. Poplar 2x2 to build the shelf slats. Get nine 8-footers.

    6. Poplar 1x3 to build the crosspieces and bracket for the towel bar. Get two 6-footers.

    7. 1-inch dowel to build a towel bar.

    8. Silicone caulk to adhere the butcher-block to the crosspieces and frame.

    9. Surface-mounted corner brackets to hold the butcher block, apron, and legs together. Get four.10. 2¼-inch trim-head screws

    11. 2½-inch trim-head screws

    12. 3½-inch trim-head screws

    13. 2-inch deck screws to attach the butcher block.

    14. 1-inch fender washers

    15. Wood glue

    16. Wood filler

    17. Fine-grit sandpaper

    18. Primer and paint