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How to Install Kitchen Cabinets, Even Odd-Shaped

DIY remodeling expert Paul Ryan shows how to measure for and install cabinets in this kitchen renovation, including corner sink cabinets.

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Step 1: Start with the Corner Sink Cabinets

The old (Image 1) and new kitchen floor plans (Image 2) for this project show the sink remaining in the corner and the need for new, irregular-shaped corner sink cabinets.

By starting the cabinet installation with the most difficult cabinet in the kitchen — the corner sink cabinet — you can build off the location of this corner piece.

Step 2: Transfer the Cabinet Measurements to the Floor

Measure the corner cabinet unit. Then, on paper, create an imaginary square in the corner by extending lines from the corner of the cabinet unit.

Measure the distance from one side to the other side, and transfer this square to the floor.

Measure from both walls the location of water supply lines and drain pipe. Both vertical and horizontal measurements are needed.

Transfer these measurements to the back and floor of the cabinet.

Mark with a pencil to prep for cutting.

Do the same measuring for the drain pipe.

transfer cabinet measurements to floor

Step 3: Make Holes for Water Lines and Drain Pipes

Use a 1" spade bit and a jigsaw to cut out holes.

Lift and lower the cabinet carefully over the pipes, feeding them though the holes you just cut.

Slide cabinet back tight into corner.

make holes for water lines and drain pipes

Step 4: Install the Base Cabinets Adjacent to Sink

The key with base cabinets is not only to make sure they're level but to make sure they are at the same height as the first unit installed.
Mark all studs in the wall against which the cabinets are being installed.

Slide cabinets into place.

Make sure they are level to the first cabinet and shim (Image 1) if necessary.

The walls also need to be level to the back of the cabinets, and you may need to shim to get to level.

Use clamps to hold the cabinets together.

Drill pilot holes through the frame pieces of the cabinets.

Anchor the cabinets to the back wall studs by using 3" panhead wood screws (Image 2).

Since the tall cabinet that's going in beside the refrigerator isn't as wide (Image 3) as the cabinet on the other side, an attachment box needs to be built. Before building the attachment box, which is basically 2”x4”s cut to size, be sure to determine how far out the cabinet will need to be. And remember to include the measurements of the 2”x 4”s in your calculations.

Cut four pieces of 2”x4” to the width of the cabinet and then cut four pieces to the depth to the size you want the cabinets to sit out from the wall — determined by your earlier measurements.

You’re going to build two boxes. Lay out the pieces on the edge in the box formation, two long boards held apart by a short board on each end. Screw the boards together.

Attach one box low on the wall behind tall cabinet and one high on the wall (Image 4). Use 3" panhead screws and make sure to anchor into studs in back wall.

Put the tall cabinet in place in front of the attachment boxes.

Make sure it's level front to back and shim if necessary.

Attach the cabinet into the boxes using 3" panhead screws.

Step 5: Install the Center Island Cabinet

Do a dry-fit to see how everything fits. You should have at least a 40" between cabinets, preferably as much as 52”. Check to make sure the drawers can fully extend without bumping anything.

Once they are in place, make sure the cabinets are level. Shim if necessary.

Clamp the cabinets together and make sure they're level.

Drill pilot holes, using a vix bit, and then drive 1-1/4" screws through the top frames to hold the two units together.

Do the same through the bottom units.

Now drill a pilot hole through the base of the cabinets and drive in 3" screws to anchor the cabinets to the sub-flooring.

clamp cabinets together

Step 6: Attach the Side Panels to the Cabinet

Put the panel into place making sure the front edge is flush with the adjacent cabinet and clamp into place.

Attach to the side of the cabinet using 1-1/4" screws.

attach side panels to cabinet

Step 7: Install the Upper Refrigerator Cabinet

Raise the cabinet into place using rented T-Jaks (Image 1). Raise slowly until the top is level with the panel and cabinet on either side.

T-Jaks cost approximately $80 each to buy, but they also can be rented at many hardware rental centers.?You can also build your own support brace using 2” x 4” lumber, but you cannot raise and lower their height as you can T-Jaks.

Clamp the cabinet into place and attach with screws to both the panel and cabinet. Now anchor the cabinet into the back wall using 3" panhead screws.

Step 8: Install the Upper Cabinets on the Countertop

In this kitchen two upper cabinets sit directly on one piece of countertop. Use a piece of material the same thickness as your new countertop to act as a spacer. In this project, the spacer block is an unused piece of countertop.

Place this piece across the stretch of cabinet bases that are under the tall cabinets you're installing (Image 1). Slide a thin piece of cardboard under the resting edges of the tall cabinets. This will allow enough space to slide out the temporary countertop and slide in the new stone countertop.

Make sure to mark the stud locations on the wall.

Set two tall cabinets in the desired location with enough space in-between to fit the wine-rack cabinet.

Raise the wine rack into place and clamp all three cabinets together — tall cabinet, wine rack and tall cabinet.

Now that cabinets are in place, screw one tall cabinet into the back wall studs using 3" screws.

Once the first side cabinet is secured, clamp the next two units (wine rack and other tall cabinet) together (Image 2).

Once the adjustments have been made, and all pieces are plumb and level, screw the units together and to the wall.

Remove the cardboard spacers.

Remove the temporary countertop. All the cabinets are in place (Image 3), ready for countertops, flooring, lighting, appliances and finishes.

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Projects

Resources

  • Semi-custon cabinetry (Brookhaven/color: Natural Maple and Nut Brown, Recessed Colony) from Wood-Mode Inc.
  • Custom-fabricated Quartz countertops (Ceasarstone/model: 9350/color: Carmel) from Ceasarstone

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