Easy to Build Kitchen Island or Bar Table

A Simple Table to Make for Extra Prep or Eating Space

When the tree fell on our house a few years ago, we built a small folding table using a piece salvaged from our former dining table. It was useful for awhile but was too large for our tiny kitchen space plus it was a pain to fold and unfold every time we ate a meal in the kitchen. Now that we’re in a routine and getting used to our small space, we are ready for a little bit more prep area. We decided to build this kitchen island (or bar table) that wouldn’t take up a lot of room but would provide the extra surface needed!

kitchen island bar table

Years and years ago, I built a small bar height table for my kids using metal pipe for the legs and a piece of plywood for the top. I kept it (because they outgrew it and it was awesome) and reused the base for this new island/table. Pipe and fittings are crazy expensive, so this really isn’t a cheap project, but it does look really cool when the pipe is cleaned up and spray painted. Plus, we used a piece of the tree that fell on the house as the top. It’s both modern and rustic looking!

Materials:

  • 4 – 3/4″ threaded pipe nipples at 8″ long
  • 4 – 3/4″ threaded pipe nipples at 24″ long
  • 4 – 3/4″ threaded nipples at 12″ long
  • 1 – 3/4″ threaded pipe nipple at 18″ long
  • 8 – 3/4″ floor flanges
  • 6 – 3/4″ tees
  • Screws to attach the top
  • Spray paint for the frame
  • Sealer or butcher block conditioner for the top

Lumber for the top:

Our top measures approximately 22″ x 30″. A piece of butcher block can be used, as well as a piece of plywood with or without edge banding, or even a pallet rebuilt with the boards touching (so there are no gaps).

The Base:

Assemble the pipe as shown in the photo. Use one tee between each 24″ and 8″ piece to make four legs. Then use one tee between two 12″ pieces to make two stretchers. Place one stretcher between two legs, then add the remaining 18″ piece to make a stretcher perpendicular to the other two to make the lower portion of the legs stable.

kitchen island bar table legs

Side note: I did have to change the length of the center stretcher to 16″ so that the flanges would not extend past the edges of the top, and since I couldn’t find a 16″ piece of threaded pipe, I used a 10″ piece along with two couplers and two 2-1/2″ pieces to get close to 16″.

Once the base is assembled, use an old t-shirt or rag to wipe the grease off of the pipes. Then, thoroughly clean the pipes using Dawn dishwashing liquid (it will remove the grease) and let it dry thoroughly.

Once the base assembly is dry, spray paint it your color of choice. I used Rustoleum Matte Hammered Black spray paint and it is gorgeous! It is a dark, silvery gray…

If you decide that you don’t want to go through the trouble (or cost) of building legs out of pipe, these hairpin legs (<– affiliate link!) will work just as well and can also be spray painted!

The Top:

Once we had the tree removed from the structure of the house and started rebuilding, we had a friend come out and cut the tree into slabs. It is red oak with some really beautiful grain, and has been drying for two years. We cut one of the slabs just a little larger than the finished size and thoroughly sanded it. I used a straight edge to draw a line, then cut along the line with a circular saw, repeating for all four sides. The piece can also be squared on a table saw. I couldn’t get to my table saw at the time because our VW van, Stan, is parked in front of it and has a dead battery… The piece is only about 1/8″ out of square and I am perfectly happy with that!

kitchen island bar table top

We used resin with black and silver dye mixed in to fill voids, large cracks and splits in the slab, and let it cure for a week. It was sanded again, starting with 120 grit on a belt sander then working our way to 400 on the palm sander. Once the sanding was finished, we used Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane to seal the slab. It is also gorgeous but next time, we’ll pour resin over the entire top so it has a more uniform look (we just didn’t want to lose the pink hue that’s in the natural wood).

We chose not to sand the saw marks out of the piece because we are going for a rustic look, and also because they look awesome while reminding us of all the hard work that went into rebuilding the house.

Attaching the Top to the Base:

When the slab was dry, we laid it face down on the rug in the kitchen and positioned the base on it. We made sure to measure the distance between the flanges on the lower part of the legs and matched it at the upper part of the legs so the legs are straight. We used small washers and 1-1/2″ screws to secure the legs/base to the slab. SPAX screws are my favorite! (<– affiliate link!)

Since the table will sit on a rug, we didn’t put anything under the flanges for the feet. Felt pads can be secured to the bottom of the flanges if the island/table will sit on a base floor. The can be hot-glued on, and should hold up pretty well as long as the table is going to be moved frequently.

Also, if needed, a small shelf can be laid over the center stretcher at the bottom and secured to the longer stretchers using half pipe clamps. This provides a bit more storage for large pots or whatever. A small cabinet with doors or drawers could also be built and secured to the stretchers for hidden storage. We left it open so that our barstools (built approximately 1 million years ago and repainted a snazzy navy blue) would fit under the table.

So what do you think? Have questions about the easy to build kitchen island/bar table? Leave a comment below!