22 Jun 2022

A kitchen island can be the heart of your kitchen and something very special to your entire family. There is nothing nicer than having your own custom-made kitchen island that is perfectly suited to your needs, as well as a style that is very personal to your own home and preferences.

However, getting one built for you can be expensive, with even the most basic pre-made islands coming in at around $1,000 or more. Even if you plan to use it regularly, that is a lot of money for something that is a relatively small part of your home.

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Instead, you can build your own – you just need the right tools, materials, and plan to get it all started.

Cabinet Islands

Cabinets are the perfect starting point for an island – they are small, fairly modular, and can easily be adjusted to match your needs. Choose a good cabinet type that you would be happy using as the basis of a kitchen island, and start gathering important materials for the project ahead.

What You Need

  • The cabinets (assembled).
  • Planks, ideally eight-inch two-by-four size planks.
  • A power drill.
  • A spirit level.
  • A stud finder.
  • Painting and priming gear, as well as a sander.
  • Steel angles.
  • Wooden shims.
  • Cabinet screws (ideally #8 2½-inch cabinet screws and 5/8- inch screws).
  • Any finishing materials you might need.

Creating your Cabinet Island

Creating a cabinet island is a lot easier than it might sound, but it can still take some time. First of all, you need to find the ideal spot for your island and line up the cabinets so that they are ready to be attached together. 

Temporarily remove the doors and clamp the cabinets against one another and drill a pilot hole next to each door hinge, then fasten them together using your cabinet screws. Remember to not connect them using the side panels since these are often quite flimsy and will not hold up to much use.

Then, you need to fasten it to the floor. The two-by-fours are your idea mounting blocks here, so cut them down to an appropriate size and mark a line on the floor where the very base of the cabinets are standing.

Once this is all done, you can use construction screws to attach the mounting blocks to the subfloor or anchors and a hammer drill if you are working over concrete. When they are in position, you simply have to rest the cabinets on the mounting blocks then screw them into position.

Mobile Dresser Islands

Dresser islands are similarly easy to set up, relying on existing furniture to make the process a lot faster. However, since you are usually working with a single dresser, there can be some differences in how you handle the project.

What You Need

  • The dresser.
  • A screwdriver and drill.
  • Wood/plywood boards.
  • A spirit level.
  • Optionally, rubber casters.
  • Any finishing materials you might need.

Creating your Dresser Island

Getting your dresser ready usually means sanding, painting, and priming it to fit the style that you want. How you decide to do this is up to you, so you can always skip this completely if you like – it depends on your preferences and what kind of content you are hoping to create.

Then, you need to get the shelving ready. Remove the bottom drawers and draw tracks in your dresser with the drill and screwdriver, then sand down the frames. Measure out the shelf size using your boards and cut them down so that they fit into the dresser, painting them with something that can protect them.

Once the drawers are installed, you need the countertop. How you do this is up to you. You could put on a new material layer, use the dresser’s normal surface, or a combination of the two – just remember to avoid overhangs unless you are sure that it is safe.

Then, you just have to decide if it is going to be mobile or not. Some people prefer to keep the dresser stationary, but others enjoy having them on rubber casters, meaning that they can be wheeled around as needed. Attaching the casters is not hard, but it takes some time to figure out, especially if you are using a larger dresser.

Other Things to Consider

When you are making a kitchen island, you need to be aware of some of the specifics involved in how they work. Not all islands are identical, so you want to make one that suits your needs perfectly without becoming a problem in the near future.


Stationary, fixed islands often need an electrical outlet to stay up to code. This is to avoid people moving appliances from a normal counter onto the island, putting a cable across the room that could trip somebody up.

You can attach as many outlets as you want, but they will have to be wired properly. This only applies to the National Electrical Code-compliant states, so some states may not demand NEC standards. Even so, installing them is a very convenient option and one that you will find helpful.


The finish that you add to your island can completely change how it looks, feels, and even how well it handles certain types of damage or staining. Choose an option that looks good and works well with your personal habits or requirements.


The debris that is leftover from creating a kitchen island, especially if you have heavily modify existing furniture, can be quite hard to dispose of. Consider one of our dumpster rentals to help you move a large amount of scrap materials, old furniture, or other trash that you can’t handle by yourself.