How to Upgrade to Soft-Close Cabinets
Ask This Old House carpenter Nathan Gilbert upgrades a kitchen to have soft-close cabinets
- Using the screwdriver, unscrew the hinges holding the cabinet doors to the cabinet and remove the doors. Only do one door at a time so you don’t lose track of which door goes where.
- Unscrew the hinges from the cabinet doors using the screwdriver.
- Place the new hinges into the mortises from the old hinges. If the new screw holes don’t line up, you’ll need to drill new ones.
- To drill new holes in the cabinet doors, take a combination square to line up the hinge with the bottom of the door to ensure it’s square.
- Next, drill a small hole in the door using a self-centering drill bit.
- Then, screw the new hinges into the new holes.
- Reinstall the cabinet door onto the cabinet and repeat this process for every cabinet door in the kitchen.
- For the drawer slides, start by removing the drawers and slides from the cabinet using the screwdriver. Do one cabinet at a time, and keep track of the order of the drawers being pulled from that one cabinet, as they can vary in size. However, it will be easier to work in the cabinet with all the drawers removed.
- Pull apart the new slides to work only with the section that will be mounted to the inside of the cabinet.
- Mount the drawer slides jig into the inside of the cabinet.
- Insert the back of the slides into the socket and rest the slides on the jig. Put the slides into position and screw the socket against the back of the cabinet.
- Screw the front of the slides into the face frame of the cabinet.
- Reconnect the slides and repeat this process for both sides of the drawer.
- Switch the drawer slides jig so that it is sticking outside of the cabinet. Rest the drawer on the jig and extend the drawer slides until they are fully extended to the front edges of the drawer.
- Screw the slides into the drawer.
- Repeat this process for all the drawers in the kitchen.
While there are a few low-cost options to upgrade to soft-close kitchen cabinets, Nathan suggests changing out all hardware to soft close.
Nathan installed TEC Soft-Close cabinet hinges, which are manufactured by Grass USA. He recommends identifying the brand currently installed in the cabinets and replacing the hardware with that same brand, which is what he did in this case. Usually, that will require less work on the cabinet doors to get the new hardware to fit.
For the drawer slides, Nathan installed 22” soft-close, full-extension, ball bearing, side-mount drawer slides, which are manufactured by Everbilt and sold at home centers. The plastic cup Nathan mounted to the back of the cabinet was manufactured by Everbilt as well. To determine which type of slides to get, measure the cabinet front to back for the length, and get the same mounting type as the original slides, since they will be easier to install. Opt for full extension over 3/4 extension to gain full access of the drawer.
The drawer slides jig Nathan used is manufactured by Kreg Tools. The jig makes the drawer slides installation significantly easier because it can hold everything in place.
The rest of the tools Nathan used to install the soft-close hinges and slides, including the drill driver, screwdriver, and self-centering drill bit, can all be found at home centers.
Expert assistance with this segment was provided by Nathan Gilbert Carpentry.