I started installing my kitchen cabinets. . The wall cabinets are up.
Now I'm stating on the base cabinets. It's one row of cabinets 11 feet
long wall to wall. My question is how do you shim up the first cabinet
in the corner? I can't get a shim under there while the cabinet is in
place, so I have to remove the cabinet, put a shim in the corner, and
place the cabinet again to test. Is there a technique thats easier?
I thought if I place a shim from the top on the adjacent wall, that
would keep the cabinet raised, then I would drill through the top
cabinet rail. Any advice appreciated.
On Thu, 29 Nov 2007 01:49:25 -0800 (PST), Mikepier
Find the highest spot on the floor along the whole line of cabinets.
Measure up from there the proper cabinet height (usually 34.5") and
mark the wall. Keep in mind that the highest spot may not be right
along the wall but out under the front of the cabinet or anywhere in
between. Then extend a level line along the whole row and around the
corner(s). Slide that first cabinet in place. The lines will give
you an idea of how much it needs to be shimmed and where. It will
still take some trial and error to get that first one right, but not
If I read you right, you're proposing using a temporary shim up top
just to get the cabinet plumb and level enough to fasten to the wall.
You really want the shims under the cabinet where needed to support
the weight; just depending on fasteners through the top rail to hold
it plumb and level is not enough.
Often when cabinets go wall to wall you need a filler strip to get the
dimensions to work out. Even if you don't, sizing the row of cabinets
2-3 inches smaller than the total opening and then using a filler
makes fitting a lot easier, since it gives you a little wiggle room.
By splitting the filler and putting half at each end, it gives you a
small gap to work the rear shim into place. Also provides more
clearance for doors to open and drawers to slide without hitting the
Of course the easiest way is to spring for cabinets that have built-in
levelers that are adjustable through the cabinet bottom, but I guess
that advice is moot at this point.
I am watching Mike's progress with interest since it appears he is
about 2 months ahead of a very similiar job at my house. My kitchen
has 2 walls for cabs...the main one also about 11'-12' long.
What is the easiest way to find the high point in a space that long
since (as you correctly point out) it may not be along the back wall
but up front, in the middle, etc. Do you draw a level reference line
on the back wall, use a string level in the front and middle and just
measure everywhere to find any "humps" in the floor?
You can put a 2 foot level on the floor perpendicular to the wall,
every foot or so. Since the cabinets are 2 feet deep, the 2 foot level
For me the floor sloped down away from the wall, so I knew the
highest point was going to be on the wall.
Use a straight 10' 2x4 with a four foot level taped to the top, or you
can use a laser or water level and a tape measure to measure down from
the level line.
The leveling legs are the easiest thing to use. If you haven't
ordered/built your cabinets yet, I'd make them without bases and toe
kicks and use the leveling legs.
Oh I so disagree about using cabinets with leveling legs.
I did about 30 feet of cabinets once where leveling legs were used. Spent
hours and hours and hours face down on the floor reaching under the cabinets
twisting this leg or that leg while my wife was up above staring at a level
giving me directions. Repeated this procedure every 18 inches or so (width
of the cabinets). Most miserable experience of my life.
Next time I did a similar job I simply built a 2"x4" base upon the floor and
leveled it with shims. No wife involvement with this one. Took a little
less than one hours. Placed the cabinets on top of the frame/base and
walked away proudly.
BTW, not only were the leveling legs a pain in the ass, but, the toe-kick
boards were supposed to clip onto the legs. Most of them didn't line up.
Some only missed (not in the same vertical plane) by about 1/16 of an inch
but enough to make it look ugly. NEVER, NEVER AGAIN!!!!
BTW#2, these were purchased at a home store (now long closed) who ordered
them from some cabinet maker in Oregon. A sleek Wilsonart European look
that looked dated within months after installation. I take the blame for
Well than, you've had a pretty easy life! There are numerous leveling
legs on the market, and numerous ways to simplify leveling. Some of
the legs utilize a hole in the floor of the cabinet (gets covered with
a flat plastic plug) that allows an Allen wrench to be inserted to
adjust the leg. But a far easier way is to use a ledger board at the
back of the cabinet. Then you have excellent support at low expense
and only have to adjust the front leveling legs.
I like the improved access of the leveling legs. I'm always running
something or other under the cabinets.
Vertical plane? I've never seen clip-on kicks that didn't line up up-
and-down. The in-and-out can be tweaked with a few layers of tape if
Well, I'm sure not taking the blame on that one! I get blamed for
enough things as it is. ;)
Lot's of ways to skin this one. A laser is the easiest, but lacking
that, I usually use 4' and 2' levels to draw a level line along the
back and side walls about 30" up from the floor. Then I tack a string
line from end to end about 2' from the back wall, where the cabinet
fronts will go. Measure from floor to line at several spots to get an
idea where you stand. Then measure from the back line to the floor at
several spots as well. Once you know the highest spot at the front and
back, a few spot checks with the level will identify the odd hump
somewhere in between. Usually the floor sags and the high spot is
close to the wall, but sometimes, depending on how the framing
underneath runs, there is a hump somewhere else. Humps don't matter
unless they are the highest spot. Pick the highest spot, a draw a new
line 34.5 plus an 1/8 over that and extend it around. You can skip the
1/8, but I like the extra wiggle room.
Some people draw the first level line only 1 or 2 inches up from the
floor because then you can usually spot the high spot by eye using the
Once you've drawn the final line, if you really want to be sure, slide
the cabinets in and make sure neither the front or back edges is
higher than the line. Use a level or replace the string line to
check the front edges. This is a lot of extra work and chance to
damage the cabs, so I skip this step. So far I've been lucky.
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