Dishwasher -- cutting cabinets advice

Hi all,
I'm about to install a dishwasher in my kitchen. The kitchen didn't previously have one so I must cut a space in the cabinet.
The electrical, hot water and drain lines should be no problem, that seems straightforward. I had an electrician wire a new 15-amp circuit to the spot.
The hard part is cutting the cabinet. I'd be grateful for any advice on this process. I'm planning to rent a Sawzall/reciprocating saw and cut a 24" wide, 34" high hole in the spot (next to the sink) where an existing 19.5" drawer and cabinet exist.
- What's a good technique for keeping straight with the saw? I thought holding a piece of molding along the side of the saw might be good.
- The cabinet is "half" of one large cabinet, and I'm just going to cut some plywood to match the hole and glue it in, cutting the cabinet in half.
Anybody done this on their own? Am I getting in over my head?
Thanks,
John snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com
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John,
I have done this in my kitchen recently. The house my wife and I bought had the original 1950's Formica cabinets in it and no dishwasher. Depending on how the cabinet you are cutting into is sized you have a couple options. My cabinets are frameless, so the doors go all the way to the edge of the cabinet. This just made things easier. The drawer extended the full width of the cabinets as well. I took the two doors and the drawer out. then cut the base of the cabinet to the proper width for my dishwasher with my Craftsman version of the RotoZip tool. Since the inside of the cabinet is not seen I was able to just freehand the cut to the straight line that I drew. This left 3" on each side of the dishwasher. I then cut the doors and drawer front to make the filler pieces that are to the left and right of the dishwasher and backed them with some 1x3 material that I screwed together in an "L" shape to attach to the sides of the cabinet. By using the original doors and drawer front kept the lines of the existing cabinets so it looked like it was always there. Since then my wife and I have decided to remodel the kitchen so I only have one photo that shows the dishwasher in the original cabinets.
http://www.bruceharang.com/images/woodworking/Kitchen%20Remodel%20Large012.jpg
Good luck and have fun.
Bruce

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A User wrote:

I've done this very thing this summer in my first house as my first "major" project of any kind.
It turned out well. I would suggest not using a Sawzall. I think it would be too difficult to keep a straight line. I used a decent jigsaw plus some handsaws (especially if you have to cut along the bottom of the formica/etc countertop) for the cutting. I found the japanese handsaws (they cut on the pull) allowed for better and thinner cuts. With the jigsaw you can use a straightedge or straight piece of wood as a guide.
My cabinet was built in from the 1950s. There were nails holding things together all over the place (I was impressed with the strength of the whole thing). I gently used a small pry bar to pull things apart and then a dremel with cut off wheel to cut off the ends of nails that remained.
I used a piece of plywood to make the new inside vertical wall. I cut it to match the profile (kickboard and the crossboards along the back wall) and used some L brackets to hold it in place. I still need to cut one of the previous doors down for trim and for a new door to use in the new narrow cabinet that came out of the remaining space. Since I had to wait to buy a table saw, and my wife is now happy with a working dishwasher, other things have since taken priority. I really should do it soon though.
In general I would suggest that you go slow and have everything planned out very carefully. Measuring twice may not be enough since a screw up here can be very difficult and expensive to fix.
When I did it I was very green at home improvement/woodworking (as I still am), but I took it slow and careful and I did it and you should too.
Good luck, Eric
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| | I've done this very thing this summer in my first house as my first | "major" project of any kind. | | It turned out well. I would suggest not using a Sawzall. I think it | would be too difficult to keep a straight line. I used a decent jigsaw | plus some handsaws (especially if you have to cut along the bottom of | the formica/etc countertop) for the cutting. I found the japanese | handsaws (they cut on the pull) allowed for better and thinner cuts. | With the jigsaw you can use a straightedge or straight piece of wood as | a guide. | | My cabinet was built in from the 1950s. There were nails holding things | together all over the place (I was impressed with the strength of the | whole thing). I gently used a small pry bar to pull things apart and | then a dremel with cut off wheel to cut off the ends of nails that remained. | | I used a piece of plywood to make the new inside vertical wall. I cut | it to match the profile (kickboard and the crossboards along the back | wall) and used some L brackets to hold it in place. I still need to cut | one of the previous doors down for trim and for a new door to use in the | new narrow cabinet that came out of the remaining space. Since I had to | wait to buy a table saw, and my wife is now happy with a working | dishwasher, other things have since taken priority. I really should do | it soon though. | | In general I would suggest that you go slow and have everything planned | out very carefully. Measuring twice may not be enough since a screw up | here can be very difficult and expensive to fix. | | When I did it I was very green at home improvement/woodworking (as I | still am), but I took it slow and careful and I did it and you should too. | | Good luck, | Eric
That's great advic,e Eric. I just wanted to add my opinion to avoid the sawzall too; no way will it cut a straight line more than a few inches long, if at all. My tools were a circular saw with a thin kerf blade for the long runs and ajigsaw with fine teeth blades to finish off the cuts at the ends of the circ saw runs. Only screwup I had was the pipe access in back; it looks more like a diamond shape because I couldn't reach it well. Finished it all up without removing the countertop, THEN discovered the whole thing was just set on ridge clamps!! I could have just slid it out and worked on it separately. Oh well.
Pop
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I see lots of good advice here for you. One thing to watch for is the cabinet height for the machine; it needs to be carefully set 'cause most dishwashwers fasten to the cabinat at their tops and the flanges don't have a lot of slop allowance. So watch your rough-in dimensions carefully. Also be sure to allow the preferred distance from the sides of the washer to the cabinets as should be detailed in the install instructions. Wood does expand/contract with humidity and temp.
Pop
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Pop wrote:

Both of Pop's messages give excellent advice. He's right about the circular saw. I did not have one when I did my cutout but now that I do have one it is almost all I use for straight cuts.
Eric
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