Kitchen Island Re-enforcement for Concrete Countertop

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Project by Bagtown posted 11-30-2011 05:19 PM 4749 views 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So I poured a concrete top for the kitchen island.
It turned out pretty good for my first try, but I realized that my cheap factory built cabinets weren’t about to support this two inch thick monolithic piece of concrete on top of them. So I was at the lumberyard about to step up to the desk and order some 3/4” maple plywood, which I had planned to surround three sides of the island with. I’m pretty sure that would have sufficed. But just as I was about to open my mouth and buy the plywood, I had a thought and suddenly backed away from the confused clerk working the desk. I told the next guy in line to go ahead and I started to think about was what at home in the shop. I remembered all of the finished one and an eighth thick rock maple that was filling my lumber rack at home in the basement. I scored the maple from the local university (Mount Allison University), when they were selling off some things. This wood is from bunk beds that they were selling that were from an old residence. They were going for $50.00 a set. I looked at them and told my wife I was buying a set of bunk beds. She wasn’t sure we needed them as there are no children living at home anymore. I told her they were worth a lot more than $50.00 just in wood cost. So we had a set picked out and when the fellow taking our money found out that I wanted them for the wood in them he said “hang on a minute, come over here”. I followed and he showed me a bunch of mismatched pieces that he couldn’t build a full set of beds from. There was a LOT more than one set of bunk beds worth, but just not quite enough of the right pieces to build one full set. He asked if I would be interested in that pile of unuseable parts… I payed him $50.00 and loaded up…

So, I got off track a little. . .
I decided not to buy the plywood and went home to my shop and started looking through the rack full of maple. As it was all drilled for bunk bed parts it was difficult at first finding enough clear pieces to build the support. Then I got to the bottom shelf and found all kinds of nice long planks clear of holes. So I went up to the kitchen and measured the island that was actually built from two old bottom cabinets that were screwed together and were never going to support much more than melamine top. I drew a sketch and headed for the basement, and the result is what you see in the picture. I built it so that the outside support is about a sixteenth higher than the cabinets, that way the vertical maple pieces are taking all the weight. I finished it with three coats of poly. I though about putting some moulding around the inside of the panels but I like the look of it without, I think it looks very heavy and matches the concrete top.

Just a couple of notes on the concrete top for anyone interested, it’s five feet long and twenty seven inches deep and two inches thick. I mixed up just a little more than two cubic feet of concrete and had excess. I think it weighs between 200 and 225 pounds. I have been wanting to try making concrete counters for years and finally decided to go for it. I made a square well 1/2”deep and just slightly larger than my large cutting board for it to sit in. As well I inlayed a shallow bowl for fruit, you can see avocados in it in the picture. There is also a slice of a blue geode inlayed in the middle that I exposed some aggragate around to make it look like a comet or shooting star (at least that’s what I was thinking when I was polishing it). There are poly fibres in the mix and i have remesh in it as well. After the initial polishing small pinholes were revealed in the surface. I mixed up a thin mix of concrete in a slightly different colour and filled the holes. After it hardened again I polished some more and found more pinholes, I mixed another batch and repeated that step three times before it was clear. I bought a special polisher to do this that has a GFCI built into the cord and has diamond pads and a waterfeed in the centre of the polishing pads.
I learned quite a bit from this first one and plan to do more, I may even start a business if there is enough interest, so far everyone that has seen it is has shown some amount of interest.

So that’s my latest project.


-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

10 comments so far

View jdh122's profile


1018 posts in 2841 days

#1 posted 11-30-2011 06:03 PM

Nice island and nice countertop. I live in Moncton and poured my own concrete countertops about 2 years ago, but didn’t reinforce the Ikea cabinets I used – so far no problem. Very nice score on the cheap wood…

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

1099 posts in 3831 days

#2 posted 11-30-2011 08:10 PM

Enjoyed reading your description of the work. Happy that you found a good deal on the rock maple. I’ve been contemplating a concrete counter top much the same as you have now completed. Your quick after project report was very helpful. I opted for bamboo counter tops for now, but you’ve convinced me with your superb counter top, that need to mix some concrete soon! Great looking counter top. Thanks for posting. Max

-- Max the "night janitor" at

View dubsaloon's profile


621 posts in 2817 days

#3 posted 12-01-2011 12:07 PM

Cool! Wood and concrete counter tops. I wanna learn to make concrete things.

-- The works of evil people are not the problem. It is the "Good" people standing by and watching not speaking up. Dubsaloon

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2946 days

#4 posted 12-01-2011 01:25 PM

Nice looking project. I have watched the cc countertops process on TV but never tried it. One thing they did was use a vibrating sander on the form that was to help get rid of bubbles when you pour.(FWIW)

-- Life is good.

View twistedfuse's profile


9 posts in 2847 days

#5 posted 12-05-2011 12:01 AM

Looks great! I’m looking at doing some benchtops soon too. What brand polsiher did you use for the job?


View Bagtown's profile


1739 posts in 3753 days

#6 posted 12-05-2011 12:21 AM

Thanks for the comments.

JDH – I’m in Moncton quite often,would love to see your countertops sometime.

Max – I’d love to see a pic of the bamboo. Nice to see a fellow sailor onboard here. Was in the Canadian navy as a bos’n in the eighties.

Dub saloon – if you’re anything like me you’ll love working with concrete.

Howie – Actually I did vibrate the form, but the mix was way to thick, although in the end I’m pretty sure it’s a very strong mix because of less water in the mix.

Daniel – I bought a polishing kit on eBay from Buddy Rhodes, it came with hand diamond sanding pads as well. I’m very happy with the purchase so far.


-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

View twistedfuse's profile


9 posts in 2847 days

#7 posted 12-06-2011 01:05 AM

Thanks Mike, hardest trouble i am having is the fact that here in Australia, we use 230VAC and it seems hard to find a decent polisher with the right voltage and plug. That way i don’t need to buy a stepdown transformer.

Currently looking at SECCO, but like the looks of the makita and metabo, but cannot find the makita in the right voltage and the metabo locally or with good postage prices. Just want to make sure i get good quality as well as well as not get ripped off by having to pay over priced postage and the likes.

Keep up the good work.

View Ed Kallbrier's profile

Ed Kallbrier

81 posts in 2372 days

#8 posted 04-20-2012 01:37 PM

Nice looking project.

-- Ed Carlinville IL

View JL7's profile


8667 posts in 2988 days

#9 posted 12-09-2012 12:23 AM

Hey Mike – cool story and cool cabinet/counter…....You have a knack for the unique…...always love a good wood find story as well….

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View StumpyNubs's profile


7598 posts in 2824 days

#10 posted 12-09-2012 01:13 AM

I would love a concrete counter top in my kitchen but can’t talk the missus into it. Maybe I’ll show her yours!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

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