Oh and by the way... I've seen that and it looks just as bad.
It's done on end cabinets. They just take a door *close to* the size of
the cabinet side and screw (from the inside) the badboy on there. They
just center it on the cabinet, so you see this door with a 1/2" of box
around the perimeter. Looks almost as bad as leaving the plain box.
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
sorry, nope. this was a custom house. i designed the house floorplan and
kitchen completely, and did a bunch of the work on it myself. if swmbo would
have agreed to not have a kitchen for months, i would have done them myself.
the cabinets are completely skinned. the panels are sized not to look like
doors, nor are the same size as the opening doors, but to look like a box
made out of panels.
I followed that. You do not see any of the plywood box, but it is there to
give strength, ease of construction, and a place to attach the panels.
Easier to build, I suppose, but it seems like a bit of extra expense for
materials, but it would save on labor. If your labor is free (cost wise, at
least) then I would go with real frame and panels.
Well, that was kind of a surprise. The tree had to come down as I
didn't trust it so close to the house/cars, and it didn't look overly
healthy. Anyway, when they came to take it down I asked them if they
could mill me anything that looked relativity straight, thinking I'd
get a few pieces. They said sure, they knew a guy with a mill that
would do it and they would drop it back off.
A couple of weeks later I come home and there is a pile of wood ~10' x
12' x 5' high. I stood there thinking "what the hell will I do with
all of this?". Luckily my neighbor also does woodworking and has a
lot more land then I do (my lot is 50'x125'). So I told him I would
split it with him if he would store it there for me. He helped me
stack it in layers and now, a year and half later, it's is testing
dry. The only bad thing was they guy milled it as just over 4/4. But
the longest pieces are 12+ feet and maybe 12" wide at the widest
The milling cost $80.
Now it's time to do something with it. My skills up to this point
have been small, jewelry boxes, tea boxes, pens, outdoor shower, bar
top. So I'm kind of excited to take on a real cabinet project. I
like the frame and panel idea, that would be great.
The dimensions of the carcass will likely be 2'x4', so I could do
maybe 4" panels on the side and 6" on the back? The problem might be
that I only have a 4" jointer. I suppose I could edge glue 2 4"
boards for each section in the back and have them be 8" panels. Does
this make sense? Guess I'll do a sketchup drawing and see if it looks
I would never consider using hardwood plywood for an exposed side, like an
island would have. Never. There is no way that the purchased hardwood
plywood will take stain and have the same color and grain that your cherry
lumber will have.
I have done it four ways.
One, glue up 3/4" thick (I will use the hardwood you are using for writing
purposes) cherry for the exposed ends and back. Probably my fourth favorite
way. Objections are that a big expanse of wood with no details looks plain
to me. Also, possible problems with stability due to moisture and
temperature changes. Not as much as an issue if wood has kiln dried and
then seasoned in a heated and cooled environment for a few months, or air
dried for long period then seasoned in the heated and cooled environment for
a few months.
Two, use plywood carcass, then resaw 1/4" to 3/8" thick planks, glue
together to make a veneer to glue on top of the plywood. Must make sure the
cherry is good and dry, and that plywood and planks are seasoned in a heated
and cooled environment for a while, (hopefully in the same environment) so
they will be stable and not shrink at different rates with humidity changes.
Better than above first method, because it will be more stable, and flat and
strong. Still, it is my third favorite way, because of it possibly looking
Three, make all of the back and sides with rails and stiles and raised
panels, but without doors. They look kinda' like the doors, but are all
fixed elements. I usually make the rail at the top a good bit taller, for
strength against racking. I also make a toe kick all of the way around. My
second favorite way, because of the interest the panels give to the cabinet.
The wood will match and take stain the same as the doors and drawers side,
being a big bonus.
Four, my favorite way, is to make the ends look like a raised panel but
fixed, or sometimes, I make it as a solid glued up panel out of the cherry.
The plywood floor of the cabinet makes the bottom of the plain panels stay
straight, and I put an extra "cleat" at the top to keep it straight, but
oval out the screw holes (on the inside on the cleat board) to make it have
a bit of humidity expansion ability. Using either of the methods for the
ends, I put a toe kick space all of the way around the island, for interest,
non-scuffing of the panel, and to make the raised panel method look more
like doors. On the long side on the back of the island, I make it like the
front, using a face frame and with raised panel doors. If the island is to
have a overhanging or dropped eating bar, I make the doors low enough to
open under the counter top. The stiles in the middle or end may have to be
a bit wider, to put counter-top braces. (if they are needed) I like this
way the best, because it makes for a very interesting detailed surface, and
most of all, it is just plain handy to be able to get at the cabinet storage
space from the other side, at times. For islands where there are drawer
stacks, or it is otherwise unpractical to use functioning doors, I still
make a frame and door long side, but permanently fix some or all doors in
the closed position.
Sorry for the long post, but I hope it gives you some ideas.
A kitchen island is a "kitchen" component, subject to unique wear and
tear, including changes in temperature and RH, that a piece of furniture
sitting in your living room is not generally subjected to, and most of
the time ultimately looks like it indeed belongs in the former, instead
of the latter.
Design parameters dictate material choices. A "kitchen island" generally
incorporates a toekick on one or two sides as a necessity for performing
kitchen chores when standing at its surface; usually an electrical
receptacle mounted one, or both, end panels; perhaps sinks, cutting and
serving space, and cooktops on its surfaces; drawers and/or cabinet
doors on one work side; cabinet shelves with doors on the opposite,
which may also incorporate multi-level seating; and often some sort of
shelving built into the sides; and generally has a counter top surface
that can be a considerable weight.
That it may look like a "base cabinet" at the end of a run is no
accident, as form follows function in a well designed kitchen.
Most of the solid wood, furniture like suggestions in this thread are
nice, idealistic, ideas, but, IME of designing and building kitchens
that contain kitchen islands, most will prove impractical for both the
environment and the above design requirements.
The idea of a solid wood kitchen island is indeed possible, if you can
pull it off ... however, your professed skill level may be severely
challenged doing this satisfactorily enough to stand the test of time.
Seriously consider the advantages of using a kitchen "base cabinet"
methodology of cabinet construction, at least in part, as well as making
maximum use of the dimensional stability of a cabinet grade plywood for
any panels, reserving your hardwood for your stiles, rails, and trim
elements, while still coming up with a design that works well, and looks
nice in a kitchen environment.
Another caveat: when deciding upon which advice to take in this thread,
you may want a bit of 'show and tell' photographic evidence that the
adviser has some actual practical experience in the task ... which
"chaniarts" nicely provides on the design side.
I would like to make one observation, about his post.
The advice given is very accurate, and astute, if you are considering it
from a custom cabinet shop point of view, or from a general contractor's
view. It is also a good idea to keep things simple and using standard base
unit construction, if you are building the project for yourself and your
skill level may not be up to pulling off an all out custom unit all in one
If you are relatively skilled in the art of cabinet and/or furniture making,
you should still seriously consider not using a modified base cabinet
construction concept, but instead, challenge yourself and go for a one piece
It is possible to pull it off, and have it be functional and beautiful, and
be the source of much satisfaction and pride. Additionally, you can add
features and maximize the function to have it be the best solution possible
for your intended use.
I'm just saying, don't totally neglect the possibility of designing your own
unit. You still may decide to go with the standard base unit modified for
the job, but make your own decision.
You will notice that my reply was made directly to the OP's initial post
and addressed the original question in the context in which it was
Saves a lot of useless blather, like your above ...Which has absolutely
nothing to do with the OP's self professed situation.
Regardless of how you wind up building it, think about how you intend to use
it first...with a sink is one thing, with a cooktop another and just counter
space is still another.
You need to think about the intended use because that dictates the sort of
storage incorporated in it. For example, if it is to house a cooktop,
you'll want to store pans and skillets and other stuff like spatulas, hot
pads, maybe large forks and ladles, etc. Relative to those things, here are
a couple of suggestions...
1. IMO, deep drawers for pots and pans are a royal pain; I much prefer
shallow sliding trays behind doors.
2. In fact, *most* drawers are a pain because most wind up with a jumble
of stuff; they need to be divided and an easy way to do that is to cut
shallow "V" grooves along each side (or front to back depending on what is
to be stored) spaced maybe 1" - 1 1/2. You can then cut/sand thin pieces of
wood with a matching "V" to use as dividers. Make the fit sloppy.
Drawers - even shallow ones - can also be fitted with sliding trays; there
are all sorts of things that fit nicely in an inch or a bit more of space.
3. Everybody wants a pullout cutting board. I don't. I want one that I
can easily take out and set on the counter to carve/slice/cut something. We
have that - two, in fact - but most of the time we we use a small chopping
block that resides on top of the island where it is always handy. It is
about 7 1/2" square so it doesn't take much room, plenty large enough for
slicing a tomato, chopping onion, trimming a chop, slicing bread.
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