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In this video, Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shows how to fabricate a kitchen island out of stock cabinets.

Steps for building a movable kitchen island

  1. Stock kitchen cabinets come in a wide variety of finishes, colors, sizes, and configurations.
  2. Kitchen base cabinets are too tall for use in a mobile island, unless you cut them down to size.
  3. Upper wall cabinets at 12 inches deep by 30 inches tall are ideal for building a mobile island.
  4. Use a circular saw to cut away the raised lip from the bottom of the cabinets.
  5. Place the cabinets upside down and back-to-back, then saw a piece of ¾-inch plywood to fit across the bottom of both cabinets.
  6. Attach a 4-inch caster to each corner of the plywood panel; secure each caster with four 1 ½-inch-long carriage bolts, washers, and nuts.
  7. Drill four 5/32-inch-diameter screw-shank clearance holes through the bottom of each cabinet.
  8. Set the plywood panel with casters on top of the cabinets, then attach the panel with 1 ¼-inch drywall screws.
  9. Bore four screw-shank clearance holes through the upper back of one cabinet.
  10. Insert wood shims between the two cabinets, then fasten them together with two 1 ¼-inch drywall screws.
  11. Turn the cabinets upright and trim the shims flush using a utility knife.
  12. Cut four ¾-inch-thick plywood filler strips to fit across the tops of the cabinets.
  13. Secure the filler strips with glue and 1 ¼-inch screws.
  14. Use a circular saw with a straightedge guide to cut a 36-inch-long wood butcher-block top for the island.
  15. Set the butcher block on the island, allowing it to overhang one end by 4 inches and the other by 2 inches.
  16. Secure the wood top to the island with 2-inch screws.
  17. Smooth the butcher-block top using a random-orbit sander fitted with a 120-grit abrasive disk.
  18. Use a clean cotton cloth to apply a coat of mineral oil to the butcher-block top.