How to build a portable kitchen island using base cabinets

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Having a cabinet that can be moved at will is a nice feature in any kitchen. It allows you to maximise your worktop's surface, without sacrificing any space. You can use just about any kitchen base cabinet, and add casters (office chair wheels) to make it portable. Remember, though, that kitchen cabinets are a particular height, so don't make it uncomfortable to use by raising it too high when the wheels are put on.

Add wheels to a kitchen cabinet

For this installation, choose a caster that is between 5 and 8 cm (2 and 3-1/2 inches) in total height, including the shaft. For most purposes, a rubber-wheeled caster will work more dependably on a hard kitchen floor. Avoid hard wheels that will mar or scratch the floor surface. Metal shaft casters can stand up to heavy-duty workouts, so if the kitchen cabinet base is extremely heavy, plan for casters that can take the load.

Lay the kitchen cabinet on its side or back. Cut 2 pieces of 5 by 5 cm (2 by 2 inch) timber to match the inside depth of the cabinet bottom. Apply wood glue to one face of each board, and mount them along the inner edge of each side of the cabinet. For bottom recesses greater than 4 inches deep, these pieces will need to be mounted by attaching through the front and back instead. The bottom of these pieces should be mounted 1.25 to 2.5 cm (1/2 to 1 inch) less than the height of a caster wheel. Note that this is only required for cabinets with a recessed bottom depth of at least 7.5 cm (3 inches).

If the kitchen base cabinet was built to butt against a wall, the back side will be unfinished. Cover it with the same material as the other three sides. In many cases, it may be more practical to refinish the entire cabinet, to get a uniform look. You may also want to add corner trim or other decorations to customise the cabinet, as being portable will make it much more visible.

Measure 3.75 cm (1 1/2 inch) in from each end of the boards mounted in Step 2. Drill a hole to match the length and diameter of the caster shank. The shank should fit the hole tightly. If it is too loose, wrap the shank with electrical tape to expand the diameter. If you did not have to install pieces in step 2, drill the holes in the same approximate place near each of the 4 corners of the cabinet. Insert a caster shank into each hole. Very gently tap it into place, if necessary.

Stand the cabinet upright. Add 3 screws along the length of each of the pieces installed in Step 2. The base cabinet should stand only 1.25 to 3.75 cm (1/2 to 1-1/2 inches) higher than it did before the casters were put on, and the wheels should be almost completely hidden beneath the cabinet. Push it around to make sure it sits level. If necessary, add washers to the caster shafts to level it out.

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