Introduction

Hanging Kitchen Cabinets
Photo: David Carmack
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When This Old House contractor Tom Silva started his carpentry career over 35 years ago, he often built the kitchen cabinets he installed for his customers. "Back then, it was still cost-effective for small shops to build them," he recalls. "Today, manufacturers assemble them faster and more economically than we can."

Cabinetmakers also offer an overwhelming variety of styles, features, and price points, but with the help of a knowledgeable kitchen designer, finalizing your order can be the easiest part of a major remodel.

The goal is to take this collection of boxes and bring them together to make a beautiful piece of built-in furniture. The basic installation sequence is straightforward: You want to get everything straight, plumb, and level. But more often than not, the room itself lacks those attributes. "When walls aren't flat, floors aren't level, and corners aren't square, that's when it gets interesting," Tom says with a smile.

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    Tools List

    • drill
      Cordless drill with bit set
    • ratcheting screwdriver
      4-in-1 screwdriver
    • finish hammer
      Hammer
    • chalk line
      Chalk line
    • 100-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • folding ruler
      Folding rule
    • bubble level
      Bubble level
    • block plane
      Block plane
    • pencil compass
      Compass
    • bar clamps
      Bar clamps
    • utility knife
      Utility knife
    • chisel
      Chisel
    • framing square
      Framing square
    • ladder
      Ladder

    Shopping List

    1. Carcass
    "Look for a good, heavy box, one with a thick solid back to screw securely to the wall," says Tom. He favors plywood over particleboard of MDF

    2. Finishes
    Catalyzed lacquers or conversion varnishes are toughest

    3. Fasteners
    Screws are best, but staples ad brads are typically used

    4. Drawers
    Dovetail joints and fully extending drawer slides are best

    5. Hinges
    Cup hinges, also known as European or concealed hingers are eay to adjust

    6. Hardwood glue
    for securing trim joints

    7. Wood shims
    for making cabinets plumb and level

    8. 2 1/2-inch deck screws with washers
    for anchoring cabinets to studs (drywall screws can snap)