How Do I Build a Cheap Kitchen Island?

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Are you finding that you need more counter space than what is presently available in your kitchen? A lot of people are and the most common solution is to add an island to your kitchen. An island allows you to gain not only some counter space, but some storage space as well underneath the island. Building an island can be anything from a small, combination project to a large, in depth project for the biggest DIYers among us. These steps will allow you to put together a quick, cheap kitchen island in the fewest steps possible.

Find two matching stands for your island. This step will probably take the most time, but in the long run is likely the biggest time and money saver around. The vast majority of people do not have the tools or expertise needed to undertake a building project and get the look that they want. This step allows you to skip the vast majority of the craftsmanship work yourself and use someone else's work. You want two stands that are roughly 30-36-inches tall, depending on your counter height, that do not have a lot of bulk to them. A typical example is a microwave stand, although small entertainment centers or even small, taller end tables can work for this step. They must be the same height in order for this to work properly, however.

Secure the stands together. The two stands need to be the same height. Fasten them together with long screws, wood glue or clamps.

Measure and cut your top. You’ll actually repeat this step twice. The first time, you’re going to measure what you need on a long sheet of plywood. This is going to be another way of securing, as well as adding stability to your new island. Measure exactly, then place it on top of your stands. This needs to be an exact fit. Once it is cut properly and placed on top of the stand, secure it tightly to the stands. For additional stability, double up your securing methods. A dose of wood glue everywhere except where you are screwing it into the top will provide a very steady tabletop to work with.

Measure and cut your top…again. You now have a functional island, but a plywood top is far from ideal for a lot of cooking tasks. A light piece of easily cut linoleum will work well, as will other tabletop products. You are not going to need a large amount of either the tabletop or plywood. Once the top is cut properly, secure it to the plywood. A small amount of adhesive products is all that is needed. Remember, this step is not about adding stability to the island, but rather for looks and functionality.

Put your facing on. Step four, with the tabletop or linoleum product can be repeated on the edges of the top for appearance. Again a precise measuring and cut will be important. This step will not only help appearance, but also hide the fact that you combined two other items to make your new island.


  • Many of the supplies needed for this project can easily be found as extras from larger projects. Check garage sales and flea markets to cut the price of the project even lower.


  • If the two stands you find are not the same height, you will need to build up the top of the shorter stand until they are even. This will add time and expense to the project.


About the Author

Patrick Williamson has over seven years experience in management, as well as extensive experience in auto mechanics and general maintenance. He focuses his writing on topics that are familiar to him including education, parenting and home repair. Patrick graduated in 2002 with a degree in management.

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