Kitchen Island Plans – Make it Using Granite Scrap

Years ago when we remodeled our kitchen there was a fairly decent piece of leftover granite. The granite guy was about to just carry it away when I said, “heck no!” There was no way that this crazy supply hoarder was going to let a perfectly good piece of granite go walking out the door. But then it ended up just sitting in our garage for years while my husband and I prayed that it wouldn’t accidentally fall over and kill one of our children.

So when my friend was in desperate need of some counter space, my piece of granite finally found a home. And I got to do my first really big woodworking project all by myself! You could also use this as a patio bar for outside.

I was nervous, but really excited. My husband usually does all the building and I am in charge of design. But I always get these design ideas in my head and then get frustrated when he makes me draw them all out and think over them. I see it so clearly in my own head that I can’t figure out why he doesn’t automatically know what I am talking about. Plus he often wants me to change some stuff, so then we have to negotiate about how to change it.

When I sew I always just kind of wing it (I almost never use patterns) and nobody tells me how to do it. Even though I love making things with him, I have to shelf my strong stubborn streak which isn’t always easy. So I was kind of excited to tackle my own woodworking project by myself.

Turns out if I had talked through it with my husband a little bit I would have probably saved myself some time and grief. Wood is a lot harder to work with than fabric. It doesn’t stretch and it isn’t as forgiving. After I finished he had some ideas that would have made building it easier and the result would have been stronger. Yep, I am swallowing my pride, lesson learned.

I went with an industrial look for the kitchen island because I knew it would be easier and faster to do. And the design is open so that I wouldn’t have to mess with hinges or doors. I also avoided plywood. Me and the chop saw are tight, but the table saw still intimidates me a bit. I wanted pieces of wood that I could quickly cut with just the chop saw. You could use a circular saw too, but I have found that my cuts are always straighter and more consistent with a chop saw. It is the workhorse of our wood shop and one of the first things we bought.

I made my base to fit the size of my granite, but it is easy to tweak the dimensions. I wanted the sides to go all the way out to the edge of the granite so that it was sturdier. The granite weighs a ton and I wanted a stable base so that it wouldn’t tip over. For that reason I also picked 4×4 for the legs even though it was harder to work with.

It was also pretty cheap to make. I only spent about $35 on supplies because I already had the granite. But I know that a lot of granite cutters have scrap granite on hand that they may be willing to part with for a good price.

My finished base was 36 inches high, 38 inches wide, and 31 inches deep and the supply and cut list is based off those measurements. The purpose of the cut list is to make sure you aren’t buying any more lumber than you need. Since pieces of lumber come in different lengths, you always want to sit down and make sure you are using your lumber efficiently. For example, I was able to get all my legs cut out of a 12 foot piece of 4×4, but if I had used a 10 foot piece I would have had to buy two pieces of wood and I would have had a lot of scrap leftover.

Kitchen Island Plans

Step 1: Go get your supplies and wood. When possible try to get wood that has been kiln dried. Wood that is still green can change shape as it dries and will often leak sap out of the knots. I once had to replace a panel on a crate that I couldn’t get to stop leaking sap. It can take a year for it to finally harden up. Most of the construction grade lumber you find at Lowes or Home Depot is going to be green, so ask for where the kiln dried stuff is. I wasn’t able to get the 4×4 kiln dried, but figured it was worth the gamble.

Supply List:

1 – 12 ft piece of 4×4
3 – 8ft pieces of 2×4
4 – 10ft pieces of 1×4
24 – 4 inch screws
40 – 1 1/2 inch screws

Step 2: Cut your wood. Remember, measure twice, cut once! Lots of places will cut your wood for you and that can make it a lot easier to get home if you have a small car. However, most places won’t cut the 4×4 for you. And a lot of times they aren’t as accurate as you wish they were. I had them cut down some of my 1×4 for me to make it easier to get home and the guy at Lowes almost accidentally cut it 2 inches shorter than I requested. So I usually have them cut it down if I have to, but like to do most of my cutting at home.

Cut List:

4 – 4×4 @ 36 inches
6 – 2×4 @ 24 inches
2 – 2×4 @ 38 inches
10 – 1×4 @ 38 inches

Step 3: Sand your boards. I always do a touch up after it is assembled, but it is easier to do the bulk of it right now. Since I wasn’t painting it and wanted it to look rough, I only sanded with a 150 grit sandpaper and I didn’t worry about getting the wood baby butt soft.

Step 4: Assemble the sides. This was the hardest part because you have to drill all the way through the 4×4 and then come out in the right spot of the other side. It is easier if you have a level on your drill. You will also need to drill a pilot hole. Then I went back in with a drill bit the size of the screw head and drilled down about an inch into the pilot hole. If you don’t, your screws won’t be long enough. Once I pit the screw in, the head of the screw rested about an inch down into the 4×4. Since you will be drilling into end grain on the 2×4’s you will definitely want to do pilot holes to keep them from splitting.


I first screwed the bottom 24″ 2×4 piece at the very bottom of the 4×4. I then screwed the top 24″ 2×4 piece into the top of the 4×4 sitting 3.75 inches down to make room for the cross beam. I placed the middle 24″ 2×4 piece right in between the other two. And then I did the same for the other side.

I used my square a lot when doing this to make sure that the angles were square.

Step 5: Attach your two sides with your cross beams. Place the two 38″ 2×4 pieces along the top of the sides so that they are attached. Also grab two of your 38″ 1x4s and screw them in along the bottom so that you make sure everything lines up and is square.

Step 6: Attach the boards to make the shelves. This is the easy part. You just line up your boards so that they are evenly spaced between each other and screw them in. I used two 1 1/2 inch screws per board and drilled pilot holes so that the wood wouldn’t split.

Step 7: Finish it. You can easily paint this, but I wanted something that looked more rustic. Plus it meant less sanding (yea!). One of my favorite distressing videos is from good ole’ Doctor Dan. After watching his video I went right out and made my own wormhole maker and it is one of my favorite “tools.” And I happened to find the campy humor and captions very charming thank you very much.

So before I did a final sand, I pulled out my worm hole maker, chain and chisel and went to town on it. The final sand takes out of the rough spots left from the abuse and makes them look older.

Then I used my favorite stain in the whole wide world, Watco’s Danish Oil Dark Walnut.

My dad is an incredible woodworker and has been using this for decades. The difference between using this and other kinds of stain is amazing. Plus I love that it is a finish too. And if you have to touch up a piece later, you can just reapply. You don’t have to sand it down or anything. I often use it to breath new life into old, neglected pieces I have bought. My friend and I applied two coats to the base because the wood was really thirsty and sucked it right up.

Step 8: Since one edge of my granite was rough and hadn’t been finished, my friend Charlie Wilson who owns a granite installation company in Murrieta came over to finish it off for us. He does an amazing job. But before he offered to help out, we were just planning on putting the rough edge against the wall. So what you do with the top part depends on what your piece of granite looks like and what your budget is. When he smoothed out the edge, he also placed a piece of plywood over the top of the base to stabilize it and then attached the granite with silicone.

I absolutely love how it turned out and it ended up only taking me about 6 hours from start to finish, including running to the store and finishing it. And the best part is that little G– helped with it. I love that she is growing up watching her mommy use power tools. The only thing that really stops us from doing things is a fear of failure and the belief that you can’t.

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