How to Build a Portable Kitchen Island Using Base Cabinets

How to Build a Portable Kitchen Island Using Base Cabinets

One of the most versatile and well-liked features in any kitchen is an island. It’s a great space for meal prep, food preparation, or casual dining. The only downside is that islands take up a lot of valuable real estate in your kitchen. If you’re in need of more counter space, but still want to reap the benefits of an island, building one out of base cabinets is a brilliant solution. In this post, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to build a portable kitchen island using base cabinets.

Base Cabinets as a Solution for Your Kitchen

Base cabinets are one of the most versatile pieces of furniture in your kitchen. They can be used for storage, food prep, or seating and dining. If you’re feeling cramped for space and want to keep your island cooking space, but don’t want to sacrifice that extra storage space, then base cabinets are a perfect solution. This is because base cabinets can be converted into an island with just a few simple steps.

To create this portable kitchen island out of base cabinets, you will need some upper cabinets (located near the ceiling), plywood panels for the top and bottom of your island legs, lower cabinet doors or drawer fronts as part of your countertop, and a piece of granite on top- everything else should already be included in standard base cabinets. Just follow these steps:

1) Place your lower cabinet doors or drawer fronts onto the floor so they’re facing up.

2) Lay plywood panels on top of the cabinet doors or drawer fronts in either direction

3) Attach one side onto two legs so that it’s perpendicular to them (this will serve as your tabletop)

4) Secure another side on two other legs so that it’s at a right angle to them (this will serve as the backside of your countertop). Repeat this step with the other side panel

5) Attach one side panel to one leg at a time until you have all four corners secured.  Finally, attach the back side panel to both legs at

Assembling the Base Cabinets

The first step to building your portable kitchen island is assembling the base cabinets. You will need one 36″ x 24″ cabinet and one 36″ x 18″ cabinet.

In order to assemble the base cabinets, you’ll need a power drill with screwdriver attachments, a pencil, and a level. The first step in assembling your base cabinets is to measure and mark where holes are going to be drilled. Make sure that you make marks for the top of both cabinets with an 18″ space between them. Then take the 36″ x 24″ bottom cabinet and mark where the shelves will fit.

Once all your marks have been made on both cabinets, it’s time to drill pilot holes for all of your screws. Use your level on each shelf hole to ensure that it is completely straight before drilling into it with your power drill.  Once this has been completed, it’s time to install the shelves on the larger base cabinet using brackets if necessary (these can be found at any home improvement store).  When installing these shelves, make sure they are level with each other and that they are holding up the weight so they don’t collapse while you’re drilling into them. Next, remove the top piece of both cabinets and set them aside so we can work on assembling the island section later on in this post.

Connecting your Base Cabinets to the Countertops

The first step to building your island is connecting your base cabinets to the countertops. To do this, you need to determine the height of your island and cut your countertop to size. Mark where you want your cut by drawing a line all the way around the edge of it.

Next, get a saw and carefully follow the line you’ve drawn to cut away from your countertop. If you’re cutting more than one piece at once, make sure everything is lined up before you start cutting.

Once all the parts have been cut to size, attach them together with liquid nails or screws. Then, use brackets or other hardware on each corner, securing them tightly together with nuts and bolts.

Base Cabinet Options

There are three main ways to go about this project. You can use a single base cabinet and attach it to the wall. If you have two cabinets, you can attach them to each other with a piece of wood that spans the length of both cabinets. Or, if you prefer to have one large island, you would need at least four base cabinets in order to build it out.

The Basics of Building a Portable Kitchen Island

Building a portable kitchen island is fairly simple and can be done with just a few tools: a power drill, circular saw, jigsaw, and measuring tape. The first step is to measure the length of each base cabinet by measuring from the back of the cabinet to the front. Once you’ve measured all four cabinets, cut two of them down to the desired width using your jigsaw. Cut two more cabinets down to the desired height using your power drill and circular saw. Set each cabinet piece in place and secure it with screws or nails.

When attaching one end of each cabinet piece together, leave about 2-3 inches at the top loose so that you have room for your drawers. If you’re not installing drawers, continue securing the other end of each cabinet piece together until they are all connected. Then, use your power drill to screw into place any loose ends on top.

Finally, add any decorative touches you want or need (such as handles) before sealing up your kitchen island with paint and polyurethane.

How to Build a Portable Kitchen Island with Base Cabinets

In order to build a portable kitchen island with base cabinets, you’ll need the following materials:

  • A set of base cabinets
  • A set of support brackets
  • 1x4s
  • Wood screws
  • ABS plastic sheeting or 3/8” plywood
  • Painter’s tape
  • Caulk or silicone sealant
  • Sandpaper
  • stain

Extra Step-by-Step Instructions for Building a Portable Kitchen Island with Base Cabinets

Building a portable kitchen island with base cabinets is an excellent way to gain extra counter space and still enjoy the benefits of an island. This particular project will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to build your own portable kitchen island using base cabinets.

Before you start, make sure you have the following materials:

  • Bases for the cabinets (approximately 36″ by 24″)
  • 36′ x 24′ sheet of plywood or hardboard that’s at least 3/4 inch thick
  • Sheet of 1/2″ luan or MDF board
  • 1/2″ plywood or particleboard to build shelves inside the cabinet
  • Base cabinet door frame*(optional)
  • Base cabinet doors (optional)
  • Hinges*(optional)
  • Knobs*(optional)

Begin the project by cutting down one of your bases so it sits at about 27″ high. Then measure and cut down two more bases so they are both 27″ high and 24″ wide. These will be the sides for your kitchen island. Next, cut down a base cabinet door frame, if desired, then screw it into place in one of the side pieces. The door should face outward from the other piece. Screw-in hinges if desired, then attach your cabinet door. Repeat this process on the other side piece. Finish up by attaching a third base cabinet door on each side of the frame for stability, then screwing in knobs

Cutting the Base Cabinet Doors

The first step to building a portable kitchen island is cutting the doors for your base cabinets. Be sure to measure carefully and then use a circular saw or table saw equipped with a jigsaw blade to cut the doors down in size by about an inch all around. You will also want to round the corners of the door so that it looks more like an island countertop.

Next, use a straight edge to cut off any excess from the top of the door so that there is about 4-inches left above where you will be attaching the cabinet. This will ensure that your door has enough clearance when it is flipped upside down with one end attached to the bottom of another cabinet.

Materials Needed and Tools for the Project

  • Two (2) base cabinets
  • Screws
  • Wood glue
  • Plywood, cut to desired dimensions (these will be your shelf supports)
  • Sandpaper
  • Primer and paint of your choice
  • Necessary hardware for the base cabinets (hinges, drawer pulls, etc.)


Building a portable kitchen island with base cabinets is one of the best ways to save space in your home. Not only will it help you declutter your kitchen, but it’ll also provide additional counter space and a convenient place to store kitchen accessories. Plus, there are many variations of this project making it easy to find one that suits your needs.

A portable kitchen island can be as simple as two base cabinets joined together with a countertop, or as complicated as a multi-tiered, multi-door and multi-drawer cabinet with sleek drawer slides. It all depends on your needs and the tools available to you. What’s important to remember is that the project is achievable with simple tools and that the finished product is not only functional but also quite stylish.