Walnut Island with Beaded, Inset Drawers

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Project by toddbeaulieu posted 03-06-2017 03:38 PM 1838 views 5 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

First, let me say that of the home improvements that I’ve done so far, this was my most practical, most useful and most enjoyable to date. This island has changed our home life in the sense that we now have a place to eat, play games, read, work and just hang out. The old kitchen was smaller and the small table we had was always buried. We ate on the couch. Onto the story …

One year ago in December I took three weeks off from work to make an island for the kitchen. I just finished the now island! In my defense it took that long because I also decided to first gut and rebuild the kitchen myself. Here was my original idea. The kitchen was too open to not have an island, but too small for anything useful. Upon realizing this I decided to rip up the floor, walls, ceiling, windows, cabinets … everything must go!

Our home was built in the 1730s and we embrace rustic and farmhouse materials and design. I’m winging it as I go, but it’s finally starting to come together. Here I’m focusing on the island itself.

I wanted something really beefy. I built the cabinets from 3/4” pre-finished plywood. The drawers are 27” deep, so we have lots of storage. I wanted to incorporate turning in the project, which led to the four legs. Maxed out my lathe, length-wise. They’re nothing fancy because I wanted simple. Also, I’m a crappy turner and was lucky to produce these, which was only made possible through the assistance of wood filler to hide the catches! The ends are symmetrical, offering basic storage with bead board paneling. Here, my Wife is test driving a 30” wide by 27” deep drawer. For drawers, I used 5/8” thick birch and cherry that I purchased locally from guys with band saw mills. 1/2” thick pre-finished bottoms. The larger drawers are 3/4” thick solid wood with 3/4” pre-finished plywood. All with half-blinds. These drawers will last until someone doesn’t like our style. Oh, and I went with Blum Blumotion slides. They were expensive, but highly adjustable and they work great.

While I did edge-grain walnut counters I wanted the island to be face grain. 8 quarter, rift and quarter-sawn lumber. I knew it would H E A V Y, at almost 4’ wide by 7’ long and 1 3/4” thick, so I built the top in place, flipping multiple times for the Arm-R-Seal finish. But first …

I tried a few sizes shapes with plywood in the weeks before the actual top build, but really struggled with the shape. I needed to allow for sufficient walking space, especially on the inside end, were all the traffic is. Once the top was built I got lucky and it just came together after looking at other people’ s previous works.

I hand scraped the top first, being sure to capture plenty of detail and variance. My scraper “lets” me capture chatter marks, which I absolutely love to touch and look at.

I wanted plenty of power – all four corners have double outlets and there is a nice, stainless pop-up outlet with USB power in the center.

I installed toe-kick lighting on the work side and routed a channel around the under side of the top, embedding LED light strips.

And finally … our first public use of the island. Super Bowl Sushi and Chinese!

10 comments so far

View Raymond Thomas's profile

Raymond Thomas

189 posts in 2420 days

#1 posted 03-06-2017 04:29 PM

Outstanding craftsmanship, Todd. That looks like it will last more than one life time.

-- Raymond, Charlotte, NC -------- Demonstrate the difference!

View NCTurner's profile


53 posts in 1358 days

#2 posted 03-06-2017 04:56 PM

wow, that is absolutely beautiful! that’s one of the prettiest counter tops I’ve ever seen. Great job!

-- One good turn deserves another!

View majuvla's profile


13375 posts in 3069 days

#3 posted 03-06-2017 05:01 PM

Awesome island, awesome drawers. Those two stools looks realy cool.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2545 days

#4 posted 03-06-2017 05:04 PM

great looking a lot of work

View Vladimir Simendic's profile

Vladimir Simendic

82 posts in 809 days

#5 posted 03-06-2017 06:35 PM

Last picture say 1000 words,great job!

-- Vladimir , Serbia/Finland ,

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3068 days

#6 posted 03-06-2017 08:05 PM

This is a very nice island. You did a great job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View toddbeaulieu's profile


820 posts in 3205 days

#7 posted 03-06-2017 08:43 PM

Thanks everyone!

The stools … we got lucky. They were in a local furniture store (Jordan’s) and not too expensive. We bought four of them. The tops are made with reclaimed wood and are absolutely perfect for our kitchen. I was thinking of making my own until I saw these. They’re also super comfortable.

View Andy's profile


238 posts in 1028 days

#8 posted 03-07-2017 12:43 AM

Amazing job. So amazing Im not showing my wife your project.

-- Andy Smith

View Bobsboxes's profile


1369 posts in 2865 days

#9 posted 03-07-2017 01:13 PM

Very nice work, that island is really cool. It’s funny how a small project can turn into a full remodel. Great craftsmanship.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View Dave's profile


155 posts in 3398 days

#10 posted 03-08-2017 12:26 PM


-- "I'm not afraid of heights. I'm afraid of widths." - Steven Wright

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