I never intended for this project to be a rolling kitchen island. When I find and purchase old furniture, I don’t always get a clear picture of what it really looks like until I pick it up. But if the price is right, I buy it. Most of the time, it works out, or I scrap it for hardware and parts. The truth is… this cabinet was a bit of a disappointment when I picked it up and even left it in the back of my truck, where it got rained on all night long. The next day I figured if a piece is that sturdy, it deserves a second chance. I’ve secretly always wanted a kitchen island but never had space in my tiny kitchen. This is a great option for those small kitchens with little counter spaces.
This post contains a few affiliate links to help you find the products I use. You are not charged extra to use any of the links, but any income I make will be used for more amazing DIY projects to share with you! To see my full disclaimer, click here!
DIY Rolling Kitchen Island | Upcycled Cabinet Project
Literally, it was a “rolling kitchen cabinet” before it was even a thing. Ha! During the transfer of this cabinet via my lawnmower, I saw the full potential. The top and sides were made out of butcher block and super heavy. It’s unusual for sure, but what else is there to do with the butcher block cabinet other than to add wheels. It also had these wooden knobby things and ugly hardware. Later I discovered they were wooden plugs that covered the screw holes. Not a fan of them at all.
Product List For This Project
- Solid wood cabinet
- Surfprep Sanding System (Use my code DOIT10 to get an additional 10% discount)
- Wood Filler
- Cart Wheels
- Under Shelf Storage (wire baskets)
- Cup Pulls (hardware)
- Steel Kitchen Organizer
- Wood Glue
- 1X4 Poplar (Bottom Trim)
- Pneumatic Nail Gun (you can use the old fashioned nails and hammer)
- Hemp Seed Oil
- Gel Stain (Pickling White)
- Gel Stain (Walnut)
- Applicator Pad
- Cotton (chalk mineral paint)
- Gator Hide (Top Coat)
Power tools help any DIY projects if you have them but can be done the old-fashioned way. It took me years to build up my tool kit, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t have everything in the product list above. It takes time.
First things first… to start with, I removed the cabinet doors, hardware, wooden plugs, and the backing. The rain messed that up, but everything else was all clean and intact. Oh ya, I also removed this decorative board across the front too. I’ll replace it with a simple 1 X 4 to give it a more simplistic farmhouse look. At least that’s what I’m going for—time to start rebuilding this cabinet into the rolling kitchen island that I have always wanted.
I’ll Never Use Chemicals Again! Surfprep Sanding System
With all this lovely butcher block wood, I knew I couldn’t just paint over it. So, I grabbed my Surfprep Sander with an 80 grit paper and started stripping back the old varnish. If you do nothing else for yourself this year, get yourself this tool. It has been a game-changer when working with wood. I wouldn’t say I like using chemicals, and this method beats them all, hands down. Here’s a quick video of me showing you the process. It took me 7 minutes… “7 minutes” to sand down the top of this cabinet. WATCH the video below to see what I’m talking about.
7 Minute Stripping With NO Chemicals… watch the video.
Modifying The Base For Wheels
Adding wheels to any piece of furniture will take a little planning. The first thing you’ll need to do is turn the furniture upside down and check for any structural issues. There were none with this piece. Shocker! But I also knew that the wheels I chose would not fit. With the butcher block being the base, I cut a piece of 2 X 4 and screw it to the butcher block to create a stable base for the wheels.
Attaching The Wheels To The Base
Check out these wheels! This sweet ride is going to have Mag Wheels. Actually, it’s more of an industrial farmhouse look.
I have to share this with you… I told my hubby that the rolling kitchen island would have an industrial farmhouse vibe when I’m done with it. He immediately started laughing and told me to quit making up design styles. Ha! He really didn’t know it was a thing and told me not to be telling everyone that. Silly guy. I spent the rest of the evening proving him wrong on Pinterest. 🙂
Securing The Base Of The Rolling Kitchen Cart
Since I removed the baseboard across the front, I wrapped the whole rolling kitchen island in 1 X 4 poplar wood to give it more stability. The boards were square cut instead of the usual 45-degree cuts. It was the best option to match the butcher block’s raw wood, and I liked the boxy feel of it.
Finishing The Butcher Block On The Rolling Kitchen Island
To condition the butcher block top, I added a coat of Hemp Seed Oil with a chip brush and wiped it back with a soft cotton cloth. The wood was super dry and really needed the oil to help preserve it. However, I was not too fond of the yellow tones that the oil brought out of the wood. So, after 24 hours of dry time, I went back with a Pickling Gel Stain and the Walnut Gel Stain (oil-based, so I know it will be okay to use) and wiped it on the wood in the direction of the wood grain. This did the trick! I only used the walnut stain on the top. The base of the cabinet is pickling wash only.
Updating The Back Of The Rolling Kitchen Island
Now for the back of my rolling kitchen island. I cut three sheets of 1/4 inch plywood and created a faux shiplap backing with a small piece of trim to finish it off. It was painted with Cotton chalk mineral paint and sealed with Gator Hide. I also sealed the inside of the cabinet with it too. This topcoat works well on raw wood finishes too.
This Is How It Turned out!
I wasn’t sure it would even fit in my small kitchen space. But with the wheels, it’s easy to maneuver when I need a little extra room to move around. I’m pretty sure I’ll be using it a lot during the holidays too. I’ll fill it up with desserts, plates, silverware, and napkins and roll it right to the dinner table. Instant dessert cart!
Because the back is basically flat, I added a steel kitchen organizer from IKEA with hooks. Here’s another idea… hang coffee cups from the hooks and add coffee for an instant rolling coffee bar. Gonna need that with the desserts! 🙂
Since the cabinet openings are pretty large, I found these wire shelf baskets to help utilize and organize the space. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Not bad for a cabinet that sat out in the rain overnight. And I’m even okay with the wooden plugs now.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with woodworking (can you tell?), and I was searching Pinterest for inspiration when I found this fun DIY by Sawdust 2 Stitches. She turned an old garage sale cabinet into an ah-mazing DIY Kitchen Island too.
So, that’s it. I’d love to hear what you think about this rolling kitchen island/dessert bar/coffee bar/storage/additional counter space… etc., etc. It will get used in many ways. Drop me some love below… or not. I’ll still love you. 😘
Until the next project… xo, Do