Outdoor Kitchen Island – Day 1 – Face Face Frames

This is a 3d model of the outdoor kitchen island I’m starting to build. The top will be a butcher block top. The cabinet will be paint-grade poplar and plywood. In this video, I’ll cover Day 1 in the shop by working on the face frames and getting started with the legs.

The project starts with a pile of rough sawn 4/4 poplar.

All of this was pretty flat to begin with so I skipped the jointer and went straight to the planer to begin skip planing. By skip planing I mean to take a tiny amount off per pass and flip the board before every pass. This won’t guarantee a perfectly flat face but if the lumber is in pretty good shape to begin with it will result in a face that is plenty good enough for face frames.

The larger boards had to go one at a time but when I got to the 7” or narrower boards I was able to feed two at a time. Feeding two means the machine is constantly cutting but I’m also constantly moving to try to keep up.

I filled and emptied the 55-gallon barrel of my dust collector 3 times while planing all of this and at the end of planing I accidentally overfilled the dust collector and completely filled the filter stack. Cleaning that out set me back by a few hours so while technically this footage covers two consecutive days, the actual work in this video only totals one complete work day of actual work hours.

After way too much time removing, vacuuming, and blowing out the filter stack of the dust collector, every board got a flat narrow face on the jointer.

If this was a naturally finished piece I’d likely rip wider and either sand or plane to final width. But this wood will not even be seen as it will all be primed and painted. So for establishing the width I’m just using a quality ripping blade at the table saw to get to the final width immediately. So long as the stock stays against the fence and a good blade is used the resulting face will be perfect for a paint-grade project.

And to help keep the stock against the fence I’m using these roller guides. I’ve had these for a few years and while I don’t keep them on the saw for everything they are incredibly helpful in situations like this.

For a cabinet shop or a bunch of projects that use the same face frame stock dimensions this batch of wood could be knocked out quickly. For my design, I had quite a few different widths to get the reveal I was looking for on each component. This means it was a lot of back and forth between the table saw, miter saw, and workbench for marking the pieces.

I know a lot of people like to use spreadsheets to get a list of parts and sort them by width and length but I prefer to use diagrams when breaking down the material. I like the visual aspect of it so my process involves checking off each piece on the paper and writing the length and the approximate cut location on the board.

Then it’s back to the station shuffle. Make as many same width rip cuts as possible, identify the parts at the workbench, cut off the extra at the miter saw and return it to the stock pile, and then change width and repeat. This is probably much more efficient when working in a production cabinet shop that has just a couple of face frame stock dimensions but the island I designed had quite a few odd size parts.

These roller guides really do a great job of helping produce perfect cuts. Especially on narrow hardwood pieces like this.

After all of the ripping is done I can cart my pieces and go to the miter saw.

Because I wrote the length on all of my boards when I was laying out the pieces, getting them to the final length is pretty quick with the help of a stop block system. I made this miter saw station six years ago, disassembled and moved it twice, and can’t imagine my shop without it. Having a dedicated crosscut station with an accurate stop block system ready to go at all times has been incredibly convenient.

Here we are on the actual day two but still on day one of shop time. Remember, I wasted quite a bit of time the day before getting my dust collector back in action so technically still day one as far as hours worked. Anyway, the first task here was removing the pieces that didn’t get pocket holes.

So that I could batch them out at my new pocket hole station. I recently upgraded my stepped drill bit pocket hole machine to this dual router low angle machine and made a stand with integrated dust collection for it. Just like the miter saw station, having it set up and ready to go at all times is incredibly convenient. And I’m a sucker for convenience.

Finally, some assembly can begin. The biggest advantage of a low-angle pocket hole is the ease of assembly. For some joints, I was able to simply hold the pieces down and screw them in place. Because I didn’t joint all faces and instead just skip planed, some of the pieces had a little bow to them which required the help of a clamp to get the piece where I wanted it before driving the screws. My assembly table has 3/4” holes on a 4” grid which allows for a lot of convenient places to use a dog clamp. Even though it’s just 3/4” plywood these holdfast style F clamps work great.

It was nice to get the face frames done and clamped together as it’s the first time the full scale of the build is realized. Lots more to do but definitely the first exciting moment of progress.

One last thing I wanted to accomplish on the first full day of shop time was to get the leg blanks glued up. Instead of sourcing thicker material, I designed the legs to start as a lamination of material. Each leg was to be 3” square, which means four 3/4” layers per leg. Same song and dance for the milling process until I had a stack of pieces slightly larger than the final dimension to glue up.

My favorite way to spread this much glue is with a small paint roller. Inexpensive if you forget to wash it out and it spreads glue so fast for larger glue-ups. Also, I have a video on making these glue-up platforms out of PVC pipe that you should check out. They are one of the handiest shop projects you can make and they will last forever.

And that’s it for day one of shop time. Technically spanning two actual days, but only about 8 hours of actual shop time. I’ve got some family coming to visit followed by a few scheduled days of camping so I won’t pick up on this one for a week or two but be sure to subscribe if you want to see the rest of this island being built.

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