Welcome to this page of My Makes!
On this page I will be bringing you some of my ‘Makes’ – things I have made myself. Mostly in wood, but not always.
Below is a picture of my Wood Workshop, which houses just about everything that a decent carpenter or woodworker would need. It is 28 feet (9.33 m) long, 8 feet (2.67 m) wide and about the same high at its highest point. It has a good size window in the right end wall (as looking at the photograph) so I can get long lengths of timber in the workshop easily. It has a roof that slopes slightly forward and a good overhang to shed off water, and a galvanised tin extended overhang above the doorway. It also has a double door in the front just to the left of the front window (as you look at the photograph). To the left of the Wood Workshop is a small shed which holds dry workable wood, and next to that is a larger covered area for larger pieces of treated timber which will need working on before they are usable.
OK, to start with – one of my latest Makes.
I think the most common name for such things as this is a Kitchen Island. It has room on the left hand side to put knives when you’re using the kitchen island. If you look carefully, you can see I have incorporated a couple of pieces of wood below the knife slot. One is to stop the knife blades moving any further left, therefore protecting the user and anybody else in the kitchen from accidentally touching the knives, or brushing against the blades. There is a small L-shaped piece below that for the longer knives to butt up against serving the same purpose as the above bar but also to protect the very point of the knives.
There is a shelf holding the mixer which pulls out for easy access, and the unit has a really solid working surface. The dimensions are 62 cm x 54 cm and 90 cm high. I made it that height because it suits me. The work surface really should be at a height that suits your own personal style and your own height. Very important if you are going to be working at the unit for any length of time, for instance when kneading breads or rolling out pastries. A work surface at the correct height for the user will save a lot of discomfort in the lower back, and in the shoulders to a lesser extent.
This is how I made it:- To save money, I normally buy ‘rough sawn’ wood. This is wood that usually comes directly from a saw mill, that is not smooth yet, but has just been put through a saw to give it its initial shape. When buying timber in this way, you need to buy wood that is slightly larger than the dimensions of the finished wood. This is because, if you want a nice smooth finish, you will need to put the wood through a thicknesser/planer. You can also plane it down by hand but it is a long, laborious and thankless task. I use a thicknesser/planer that I bought from Axminster Tools in Devon, UK.
I am not going to give you exact dimensions or sizes at this point because, as I have previously explained, the actual dimensions of the kitchen island really depend on the user and the amount of space you have.
But essentially you bring all your wood together and you put it through the planer to make it smooth. I started by making 4 good strong legs so I cut 4 identical lengths of wood which are approximately 10 cm x 8 cm. I then decided on the dimensions of my worktop and, with some planed wood approximately 10 cm wide by 2 cm thick, I made a good strong border all around my work surface. I put 2 struts under the work surface to give it even more rigidity. By the way, the work surface is around 2.5 cm thick. From there, I stood the legs in the 4 corners of the work surface and screwed through the work surface into the legs, making sure that I had pre-drilled a fine guide hole with a good countersink which will allow the head of the screw to sit well below the work surface. I also put in 2 screws from each of the 2 sides of the border into each leg. I then cut thinner lengths of wood approximately 6 cm x 1.5 cm thick and made a wooden frame around the legs to give them rigidity and stability. At this point, you need to make sure that your legs are at 90 degrees to the work surface and are parallel in every plane.
You then have to decide if you are going to have a shelf, whether it is going to be pull-out or not. For most people, a simple shelf held in place by battening would probably suffice. If you need to know how I made the sliding shelf, please leave me a message.
The next part is the most laborious and time-consuming of all, that is the rubbing down of every single surface, making nice rounded corners and edges where needed, and preparing everything for several coats of Yacht Varnish. This can either be done by hand, an electric sanding machine, or with a router and the correct bit. I always use Yacht Varnish because it gives a much harder finish and will be far more durable than a standard polyurethane varnish would be. Before varnishing, I recommend you give the whole unit a thorough wipe down with a damp cloth, then leave it to dry for at least an hour before giving the unit 3 or more coats of top quality yacht varnish. You need to leave each coat of varnish for at least 12 hours before applying the next coat.
Handymanchef tip:- When varnishing, make sure you are in a dust-free environment. Also, between each coat of varnish, rub the whole unit down with a very fine grade of wet and dry, and wipe down after the sanding and before re-applying another coat of yacht varnish.
Any questions or comments, please contact me.