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Kitchen Work Table


Kitchen Work Table

A perfect fit for that small space in your kitchen.

Edited by Tim Johnson

Here’s a compact work table that you could tuck away in a corner or use as a central island for daily activities. It’s the same height as standard kitchen countertops, so it’s perfect for food preparation and other standing chores.

The Cutting List has two sets of dimensions; one for the 30-in. table shown here and another for a larger 36-in. version.You can easily build either table in a couple of weekends. You’ll need a tablesaw, a stacked dado set, a bandsaw or saber saw, a drill press and a chop saw.You’ll also need a plunge router to cut the mortises and the curves on the rails.

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Use your favorite hardwood, but substitute hard maple for the top if you plan to use it as a cutting surface. To make the smaller version, you’ll need about 12 bd. ft. of 5/4 stock for the top and slats, four 3-1/2 ft. lengths of 2-in. square stock for the legs and 5 bd. ft. of 4/4 stock for the aprons, rails and stretcher. For the larger version, you’ll need 20 bd. ft.of 5/4 and 7 bd. ft.of 4/4 stock. If you don’t have a jointer and planer, have your lumber milled at the lumberyard.

Keep your router stable while plunging the mortises by ganging two legs together. Make several shallow passes until you reach full depth.To maximize the gluing surfaces, the mortises meet inside the leg and the tenons are mitered to fit.

Click on any image to view a larger version

Cut tenons on the aprons and rails with a dado set and the miter gauge. Make a first pass on both sides as shown, then make the final pass using the rip fence to establish the tenon length. Hold the apron tight against the miter gauge and flat on the table. Fine-tune the tenon thickness by adjusting the blade height. Note: Using the rip fence and miter gauge simultaneously is safe only when there will be no off-cut piece.The blade guard must be removed for this cut. Be careful.

Cut shoulders on the ends of the tenon after adjusting the height of the blade. Hold the apron on its edge, tight against the miter gauge and make two passes, as in Photo 2. Keep the tenon slightly away from the fence on the final pass and pare away the remaining waste with a chisel. Note: Using the rip fence and miter gauge simultaneously is safe only when there will be no off-cut piece.The blade guard must be removed for this cut. Be careful.

Miter the tenons, making sure the angled edges are oriented properly with the face side of the apron.

Round the shoulders of the tenons with a rasp, making firm forward strokes, so they’ll fit the mortises.

Rout the curved rails with a jig and a flush-trim bit with a top-mounted bearing. First rough-saw the curve on the rail, leaving it about 1/8-in. oversize.Then mount the rail on the jig, using double-faced tape. As you rout, the bit’s bearing rides on the jig’s curved edge. Do half the curve, flip the rail over, and do the other half (see OOPS!). Note: The guard has been removed for photo clarity. Use yours!


Before sawing the notches, clamp a spacer block to the rip fence,well in front of the blade. Screw a tall fence to the miter gauge, leaving a gap so it won’t bind against the spacer. Set the fence to the combined widths of the notch and spacer, minus the saw kerf. Raise the blade to the height of the notch.



Cut notches after sliding the top against the spacer block and clamping it firmly to the tall fence.The spacer ensures an adequate gap between the top and the rip fence to keep the off-cut waste pieces from binding. Note: The blade guard must be removed for this cut. Be careful.

Attach the slats, using shims to keep them evenly spaced. Be sure to put one shim between each leg and the adjacent slat. Use a clamp to keep the slats aligned while the pilot holes are drilled and the screws are set.Wooden plugs, glued in the screw holes and sanded smooth, create a finished look.

Cut wooden fasteners for the top from straight-grained stock with evenly spaced dadoes sawn across its length. Black tape on the fence indicates the correct length.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker June 2001, issue #87.