How to Install a Freestanding Counter

A freestanding kitchen counter, or a kitchen island, is a benefit in older homes.

A modern counter serves as a breakfast bar.A modern counter serves as a breakfast bar.
Many kitchens are not designed to accommodate more than one cook at a time. A freestanding counter allows a second person to make a salad, mix up a batch of cookies, chop vegetables or sit at the counter and visit with the cook. Designing and building your own freestanding counter provides a frugal solution to this common kitchen problem.

Measure the proposed space in the kitchen. Open the refrigerator, oven and cabinet doors to ensure that the new counter will not interfere with day-to-day use of the kitchen.

Screw one 1-by-12-by-36 inch board to the top of the wall cabinet, aligning it with the sides. Turn the wall cabinet over and attach the other 1-by-12-by-36 inch board to the bottom, again aligning it with all four sides.

Attach the four casters to the bottom of the wall cabinet, one in each corner and screwed securely to the board. Turn the cabinet over, setting it securely onto the casters.

Drill a hole in the top of each leg, centered and straight down into the leg. Screw the hanger bolts into the legs. If the legs have pre-installed bolts, skip this step.

Screw the two mounting plates to the bottom of the counter, 1 inch inside of the corners. Screw the legs onto the mounting plates.

Run a bead of construction glue around the top of the wall cabinet, then make an "X" in the center. Carefully align the countertop over the wall cabinet, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the door side. The legs are located on the back side of the cabinet, supporting the counter. Press the counter into place.

Open the cabinet doors and drill a 2 1/2-inch screw up through the top of the cabinet and into the counter. Position one screw in each corner and one screw in the center of the cabinet.

Allow the construction glue to dry completely, then roll the freestanding counter into place. Lock the casters to prevent the counter from moving while you're working in the kitchen.

Pour food-grade mineral oil onto the top of the counter and rub over the surface of the wood. A new butcher block top will require five to 10 coats of mineral oil. Wipe off any excess and allow to dry.

Rub a coat of beeswax over the entire surface of the butcher block. Allow to dry. Repeat if necessary, then buff with a soft cloth.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Drill with screwdriver bit
  • Wall cabinet, 12-by-30-by-36 inches
  • 2 boards, 1-by-12-by-36 inches
  • Wood screws, 1-inch
  • Wood screws, 2 1/2-inches
  • 4 3-inch rubber locking swivel casters
  • 2 3-inch straight top mounting plates
  • 2 table legs, 35 inches
  • 2 5/16"-18 table-leg hanger bolts
  • Construction glue
  • Butcher block, 36-by-36-inches square
  • Food-grade mineral oil
  • Beeswax

Tips

  • Paint or stain the base and legs before installing the counter.
  • Adjust the height of the legs and casters if using a recycled wall cabinet; sizes may vary on vintage cabinets.
  • If the back of the cabinet is open, screw a 1/2-by-30-by-36 inch piece of plywood or bead board to enclose it.
  • Adjustable "feet" are available if the legs are a little too short.
  • Use a kitchen base cabinet for a deeper storage area.

Warning

  • Do not use a narrow base without support legs on the overhanging side. The counter will topple over if anyone leans on it.

About the Author

With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui also worked in the Napa Valley as a high-end catering assistant. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement, pet rescue and social issues.