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I'm building new cabinets for my cottage, and wanted to include a kitchen island. I've sketched out the island as 24" x 56", 36" high (including countertop), but I was thinking it would be nice to have a raised countertop along the back. The cabinet will be built out of 3/4" birch plywood with a full back and a slight reveal (1/4") at each side.

What I was thinking is that I would bring the back up to 42" (40 1/2" plus countertop), and use that as the support for the shelf, which would probably be 14" or so wide. I plan to make some corbels to support the back of the shelf, but wondering if this is secure enough since I would only be attaching it to the plywood panel and the corbels. I've attached a rough sketchup of what I'm thinking; only one corbel is shown but definitely use more; thinking of 4 maybe?

Any experienced cabinet-makers out there with advice?

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Hi Derek

Our kitchen bar counter is not much different and has held up fine. It has three triangular support blocks underneath. I do not have any measurements at the moment, but if you wish i could snap some pics and take a few measurements.

Onno

Derek, there is nothing wrong with what I am seeing in your proposed drawing.  I have built several similiar and some advise I can give you is pretty straight forward.  It is best to give the supporting corbels something to bear against other that just the 3/4" ply back of the cabinet.  The best way is to use the cabinet end panels making sure that some of the corbel rests on the jointing end panel joint and back panel.  If possible you should add  mid panels into the cabinet as a divider or partition for the cabinet and set the mid corbel directly in line with the mid panel.  This way it puts the bearing weight of the raised counter directly against a  oposing structure,  which would be the end panels and any mid interior panels.    This will increase the stability drastically.   A thick corbel is the best choice, somethingl like 1&1/2 "  thick.  (Make the corbels long enough to go below the counter top line of the Island so that it is long enough to  bear the weight on the end panels.)

This sounds like a nice project that you should enjoy doing and also enjoy the product afterwards.

Thanks Onno and Jay; I was concerned that my approach wasn't going to be strong enough, but it sounds like I don't need to worry.

Jay, I was planning to make the corbels close to 12 inches, so they will extend down below the level of the lower countertop and support. I hadn't thought about positioning one on the divider panel; that's a great idea. And one falling on each end panel. I'll post some pictures when I'm done. It's the first time I've tried my hand at building cabinets, and so far I'm enjoying it!

Building cabinets can be exciting and rewarding effort.  There is good money in cabinet building, if this is what you like to do, especially if you gear your efforts towards custom builds.  From what I have seen of your ideas they fit nicely towards maybe expanding your work into this area.  I will look forward to seeing your finished photos but don't forget it is also nice to do some photographs of the work in progress.  It is a nice way to record your work for others to see and learn from your methods.  It also makes a excellent records for later reference and especially if you do a build for a customer.  Customers love to have a photo record of how the project was built and it does save a documentation for many uses from tax purposes, insurance records and financial matters.   At the very least if nothing more that a photo album to enjoy years from now.

Keep the saw running and above all, work safely.
 
Derek Gould said:

Thanks Onno and Jay; I was concerned that my approach wasn't going to be strong enough, but it sounds like I don't need to worry.

Jay, I was planning to make the corbels close to 12 inches, so they will extend down below the level of the lower countertop and support. I hadn't thought about positioning one on the divider panel; that's a great idea. And one falling on each end panel. I'll post some pictures when I'm done. It's the first time I've tried my hand at building cabinets, and so far I'm enjoying it!

Jay, I'm pretty sure I won't be doing this for a living, but I surely am enjoying it as a hobby. It's rewarding to do something like this and get good results that you can be proud of.

And once again; I'm amazed at the wealth of advice and encouragement from other users such as yourself. It's a wonderful thing.

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