Kitchen Island Leg Design???

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Forum topic by jaidee posted 04-12-2012 08:03 PM 3786 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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51 posts in 3018 days

04-12-2012 08:03 PM


First time posting in the forum so please go easy on me. I am building a kitchen island, country style, and am unsure if my thinking is sound on leg construction. Island consists of one 30 inch wide by 24 inch deep cabinet set on 4 inch high feet (open underneath) with 72 inch long by 26 inch wide countertop. Pretty basic but the 2 legs supporting the open end of the countertop are my concern. They are 3 inches square with a 1×3 stretcher mortised in with a through tenon. Then there’s a 1×3 stretcher from the cabinet to the stretcher between the legs, mortised in with through tenon.

I’m tried to upload a preliminary SketchUp I did (my 1st foray into the Sketch-up world), but not sure how to convert it to an accepted format here.

The island is going to be painted, made from MDO flat panels and Poplar/Maple frames.

My concern on the legs is stability with movement/warping over time if I use a solid piece milled down to size. Instead I’m thinking about laminating either (3) 1×3 pieces or (2) 1-1/2×3 pieces (finished size) and notching the mortise out prior to glue-up. I figure the additional work of laminating would be similar to the time it would take to cut and clean the mortise in a solid piece.

I’m also open to suggestions for tying the aprons and stretcher into the cabinet itself. I’d like this to be structurally sturdy and stable, and made to last. The last thing I want is to see it wrack itself apart in a couple years. I appreciate any help and insight you have to offer.



-- I used to be all thumbs......'til I got a tablesaw!

7 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5149 posts in 4199 days

#1 posted 04-12-2012 08:26 PM

I buy my legs from Osborne Wood Products. Can’t make ‘em for what they charge. Pine for paint grade is my choice.
Aprons and mortices will assure longevity.


View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2741 days

#2 posted 04-13-2012 02:02 AM

Images in LJs need to be jpg format. To get that from Sketchup, go to File, Export, 2D Graphic, then just navigate to your desired directory and enter a file name.

To insert the picture into LJs, click on the “img” button, navigate to and select the jpg file and then click on “Insert Image”.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3089 days

#3 posted 04-13-2012 02:56 AM


You won’t have any wood movement issues with what you’re proposing, Jon. My only comment is to be sure the end grain of the legs, resting on the floor, is robustly sealed from absorbing moisture from the floor.

Your joinery sounds ambitious and stout, and fun to do. This will be a great project. Have at it!



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View jaidee's profile


51 posts in 3018 days

#4 posted 04-13-2012 02:44 PM

Thanks for the tip Tootles, if you see it below it worked. This is a view of the island showing the joinery I’m attempting. As for Bill’s comment, I originally was considering a reeded turned leg and was about to order it from Osbourne when my wife excitedly showed me a picture of “the island she wanted”. Since the leg is a basic square (though I may rout stopped chamfers to soften the edges) I see it as an opportunity to try my hand at some heavy mortise & tenon joinery. I have a design for an extendable trestle table I’m working on that screams out for heavy through tenons so this will give me an idea of whether I’m too ambitious for my own good. And Lee, thanks for the tip on the legs. Though I would have likely painted the bottoms just to be thorough I’ll now give them a good seal coat first.

One other issue I am wrestling with is how to join the counter supports and long stretcher to the cabinet itself. The side of the cabinet will be pre-primed MDO since I’m painting it. I was considering a wedged through tenon for the lower stretcher. for the larger supports under the counter I was considering notching the MDO to fit the support through with a plywood scab screwed into the end of the support from inside the cabinet wall. Then I would either glue and/or screw the scab to the inside wall of the cabinet. I might have to make the top drawer box a bit narrower to allow space if the scab is thicker than the drawer slides. I’d also use either lower side mount, or even bottom mount slides for the drawer to keep them away from the scabs. Any other suggestions you might have would most certainly be welcome. Thanks!

-- I used to be all thumbs......'til I got a tablesaw!

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3089 days

#5 posted 04-13-2012 03:22 PM

What a spiffy drawing! I like it.

I did wonder about how you might attach your stretchers to the case.

Your scab inside idea is fine. If you use typical 2 1/4 stiles on your faceframe, you’ll have room. The scabs (could we call them “plates”?) be as thin as 1/4” ply. Wedging the tenon will needlessly complicate the assembly and is not a requisite structurally.

I could see you cutting tenons on all three stretchers that are just shy of 3/4 long. Then your “plate” could be used to draw them in tight.

Are you planning on those massive upper stretchers? There’s more bulk there than you need, by a factor of three. Unless your wife is moonlighting by overhauling V-12s or Massey Ferguson tractors in the kitchen.

The corbels are interesting, but there seems to be no relative to that profile elsewhere on the piece (I understand this is a rendering and you’re still pondering).

They’re actually not necessary structurally, but you might want them for ornamentation. Have you pulled out an end view? I wonder if the legs are going to look too close together, giving it a tippy feeling.

Keep on keepin’ on! Lookin’ good!


-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View jaidee's profile


51 posts in 3018 days

#6 posted 04-13-2012 03:59 PM

More views below. Thanks Lee, a lot to think about. We can call them “plates” if you like. I grew up in the home restoration environment where anything you had to add for the purpose of anchoring something (drywall, studwall, etc) was called a “scab”. Thankfully I can still learn at 50! I like the idea of cutting the tenons a little short to draw them in. I can’t claim any responsibility for the design, the picture my wife found is below also. I’m just trying to get it as close to that as I can to make her happy. The only real change is that she wants pull out cabinets for garbage and recycles instead of all drawers, and I want a butcher block laminated top. Perhaps Mahogany to go with the cherry floors. I think Cherry would be too soft for a counter top that will get a lot of use. As for the beefy supports under the counter, my wife is Sicilian and all the cookware and dishware is heavy stuff! Just kidding, I was playing with this as a way to flow into the corbel ends. I thought it would be good to cut the curves in the end of the support “beams” and cross-lap them (is that the right term?). Then again I could also make aprons between the case and legs and attach corbels to the top of the legs for the same visual effect. As long as you don’t look at it from underneath. Anyway, starting the casework this weekend hopefully. Will post pictures as I go if I can. Thanks again for all the thoughts and ideas. It really helps to bounce these things off others and get different perspectives!

-- I used to be all thumbs......'til I got a tablesaw!

View MrRon's profile


5270 posts in 3482 days

#7 posted 04-13-2012 05:06 PM

Place a stretcher between the 2 aprons at the top and screw through the cabinet from the inside. The stretcher won’t show.

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