On Friday, December 4, 2015 at 3:54:17 PM UTC-6, -MIKE- wrote:
Well... I don't use a rotary laser level either. Here's why. Say you are
making a run of uppers that is about 15 feet long (just for purposes of il
lustration). You shoot your laser line and find the ceiling (or the bottom
of a valance) is 1/2" off in the length of your run. If you cabinets fini
sh (or finish with crown) to the bottom of a valance or the to the ceiling,
you will have a 1/2" gap. What do you do? If you follow the line your ca
binets won't finish with the same reveal to the bottom of the ceiling/valan
ce. If you are putting crown on the upper stile, and you want it to appear
correct, you are screwed.
But think about it. Cabinets are judged in their appearance. That means in
build quality, finish and installation. If you take nice cabinets and fol
low your level line because you are right and the ceiling is wrong, you hav
e screwed the pooch. So I look at it this way; in 15 feet, you are off .03
3 inches a foot, or .1 inches across a 36" cabinet. That's not even 1/8"! W
ho would notice? Across 15 feet with a ugly trim or hang job, everyone wou
Even if that non level line was out a full <3/4"> across that 15' run, you
would still only be a little over 1/8" over the length of a 36" cabinet! An
d your fit to the ceiling/valance would be saved, and if you are putting up
crown, it will fit tight IF you install the cabinets out of level.
So unless it is awful, I install the cabinets as close to level as possible
, but with an eye three steps down the road to the trim out where I want al
l the trims to look good. If they are out a bit for the sake of great cosm
etics, so be it. All of my clients understand that their old houses have mo
ved and sagged a bit, so they don't expect for me to start with a perfect s
late. They do pay me though to make the job look as perfect as possible.
None of this matters of course if you have cabinets that stop a foot away f
rom a valance or ceiling. The only thing I worry about the is to make sure
the floor is level enough or out of whack the same as the uppers so I can
put a backsplash in that won't show the difference in height between the co
unter top and the bottom of the cabinet.
You got it. And if I find that a valance is used for a chase that holds el
ectrical and sometimes plumbing, maybe even A/C that the people don't want
to pay to relocate, I might be going back in with 30" uppers. In that case
, it is even fast as I cut my plywood into 12" strips that go top and botto
m, no full coverage needed. I have found that the strips don't make me hap
py on 42" uppers, but are plenty for 30"s.
Yes. Folks are used to looking at that detail, so no complaints yet.
Absolutely no doubt. When you have a solid 2x4, you wrestle to get it perf
ectly on the line, and any small imperfection can be reflected in your hang
ing. Also, the weight of a larger cabinet (say a 36X42) is heavy enough to
cause undo friction when trying to manipulate the cabinets to line them up
. The whole bottom of the cabinet is binding on the 2X4, and it makes it h
arder than it needs to be.
But the real reason is the shorter ledge pieces make it so that I can get m
y long wedges across the back sides of two abutting cabinets at the same ti
me. That makes screwing those stiles together a snap as both cabinets are
adjusted exactly the same amount.
I shoot a screw into the top of the cabinets and let them rest on the cleat
/ledger block that is centered on the carcass. Since the block is only 12"
, I can move the cabinets back and forth, a bit out of plumb (out of square
cabinet or a warped stile) as needed very easily. I line the top by eye a
nd shim as needed back and forth and drive the screws home. I get a hand f
ull of shims an my squeeze clamps and go to work.
I clamp the stiles together when I have them perfectly aligned top and bott
om in relation to the adjoining cabinet. If the wall is really off, I shim
some at this time. After all stiles are clamped, out comes the string lin
e. I shim with my extra long wedges to get them straight. At this point,
they install is feeling pretty sturdy, and it is just clamps and screws, bu
t the good fit makes it feel strong. I then drive my screws in to secure t
he lowers, and add as many shims as I need to get the straight. After that
, you will see if you need to adjust the tops of your uppers and can loosen
screws and add shims (according to your string line you moved to the top)
or make sure all screws are driven up if you are happy. I shoot brads thro
ugh all the shims/wedges and buzz them off.
The short pieces of 2X4 make manipulations and adjustments a breeze as you
can always adjust your long wedges because you can reach them easily, but t
he ledge keeps the cabinet in place. I pull off the 2X4 pieces last, and i
f I see a gap I don't like behind the cabinet, I put a wedge in it. On most
cabinets, I put a long wedge/shim where the ledger was just out of habit,
just for good measure.
I think you should be able to do chin ups off your upper cabinets when inst
alled properly, and the use if a bunch of long wedges, good screws, and pro
per installation techniques make them that way. I have gone into houses wh
ere I installed cabinets years ago and the stiles are still tight, (yes, th
e stiles have 3" screws in them, too) but the cabinets still feel really so
lid and look great after years of being loaded up and used by a family.
1 1/2". I am also known to use the same wedges, maybe longer when installi
ng base units over a poor floor. I check the fit down the sides of the car
cass before I commit to a permanent install, and do what I need to do to el
iminate any rocking, or fill any voids. I set up a string line to make sur
e I am getting them straight and level (or out of level a bit as above) and
shim if needed to lift or straighten. I glue those shim/wedges down to th
e concrete with PL400. I do the same along the fronts under the toe space
before I put the kicks on. You can make a really inexpensive cabinet feel
rock steady if you check out your contact points on the concrete and fill a
s needed. If you don't, they will sag or move later and let the joined sti
les create a gap, so I always fill anything that is over 1/16". If it is o
nly 1/16", maybe a tiny bit larger, I fill the gap with PL400. When it hit
s 1/8", it gets a shim and some PL400.
Good luck! Glad to be of some help, Mike. Let me know if I was unclear an
ywhere or if there are any other questions.
On 12/5/15 3:25 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Makes perfect sense and more sense than sticking to level by the letter
of the law.
I think I've done similarly in past without thinking about it in such
great depth. I always called it splitting the difference. If it's out
of level by 1/4" I'd come down 1/" on one side and go down 1/8" on the
other so the gap isn't as bad. But in distance, I like your idea
better. You won't notice an entire structure being 1/2" off level over
15', but you'll *definitely* see the crown sloping down the cabinets
Clarification: when you say "valance" is that what I call a soffit?
The framed up box on the ceiling, covered with drywall, used to fill the
space between the top of your cabinets and the ceiling?
So these 12" strips running the length of the wall, at the top and
bottom of the cabinets, are essentially acting as exterior blocking.
That's where you would normally run 2x's on the inside of the wall,
notched into the studs. Do you glue these also?
Just curious why you're happy with this for taller cabs.
So you also use trim screws to join adjacent stiles. I've seem some who
will use screws just behind the face frame through the box into the
adjoining box. I think I like going stile-to-stile (even if it means
some putty in the hole) because it won't warp the cabinet sides.
I love the idea of those wider shims.
This floor is already finished hardwood, which covers the entire floor
so I guess any adhesive will do.
One other thing!! Are there any newer techniques for securing
peninsulas to the floor?
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
You do have to split the difference in some cases, and there is never
anything perfectly plumb or level, but you do need to shoot for it if at
Keep in mind that if your base cabinets are not as perfectly level in
two planes as you can get them, the counter tops that go on top of them
will not be level and the owners will be constantly annoyed by round
things rolling around, or to the floor, not to mention the liquid in a
container will certainly show it. :)
When it come to butting up against an uneven ceiling with crown that is
over 1/2" off or more, the ceiling needs to be fixed .... IOW, ff it's
1/4" or less, I install the crown accordingly and use a skim coat and/or
carrier board, or both between 1/4" and 1/2".
Many ways to skin a cat, and all situations are unique ...
On Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 2:16:24 PM UTC-6, -MIKE- wrote:
To me, that's the difference between a pro and a handyman. A handyman will
bust his butt trying to hang/set cabinets that are perfectly level and plu
mb, and if the walls and ceilings aren't, they get a poor install. When I
see an install (from "professionals" too, have no doubt) that have gaps, no
n symmetric details, poor margin controls, etc. it bothers me a lot for the
m to explain to me that "the walls were out of plumb" so their poor work co
uldn't be helped. All they know is the level/plumb.
In most of these old houses or buildings is >is< all about splitting the di
fference. If I hung some really nice cabinets and my clients saw ugly trim
details and gaps, they absolutely would not care about me proving to them
that MY installation was plumb and level.
Yes. Soffits are usually outside. In most cases, these are actually block
ed out areas used as a chase to hold pipes, wires, maybe down lights, etc.
In the old days, these were the square framed up box that grandma hung her
plates on above the cabinets.
We misfired. Probably my poor writing skills.
Let's call the bottom blocks or solid wood boards what they are in framing
vernacular, ledgers. These ledgers are not permanent, but they hold the ca
binets in place until they are lined straight, then attached one another an
d secured to the wall. They are removed after that. There are no top bloc
ks/ledgers, even temporary.
Sometimes I hang cabs by myself, sometimes with someone else helping. Rega
rdless, I do it the same way. Mounting a 12" 2X4 block where the center of
a cabinet will fall allows me to pick the cabinet up, set it on the block,
climb the ladder and shoot a screw in the top to hold the cabinet in place
. Two screws (not fully driven up) holds the cabinet in place until I can
get all of them up on the wall. So the cabinet is being held by a couple o
f screws at the top, and sitting on a temp block that was screwed to a stud
I get the cabinets straight, but not perfect by applying the long wedges.
I screw the stiles together, one screw under the top hinge, one screw above
the bottom hinge. Colored caps are used to cover the screw heads later at
the end of the install.
Once I have the faces secured, I use the wedges as needed to get the cabine
ts to string line straight, then secure them to the wall by driving all scr
ews up, shooting a brad in the wedges, then cutting them off. I remove the
temp ledger blocks, the fill them with a wedge if needed, brad the wedges,
then cut them off.
So when finished, the cabinets are screwed to the wall, to the backing what
ever that might be, whether is it a plywood backing, solid 2x blocking unde
r sheet rock (preferred).
I took a few minutes at lunch today to scribble off a couple of drawings to
They are down and dirty, but hopefully good enough to get the point across.
A longer wedge provides greater bearing surface, and then reduces movement.
I put a screw under the tops hinge and over the bottom hinge to pull the st
iles tight. Sometimes I cap the screws with plastic caps, sometimes I paint
the heads, and sometimes I color them with marker. I use large (Deckmate)
3" screws. I countersink them carefully, and since they are right next to
the hinges, they look like they are part of the mechanical system. Unless
you have heavy carcass cabs, screwing through the sides is of little value
That being said, I also use longer screws if I need to, and have been known
more than once to screw a large upper to a valance or ceiling through the
stiles to keep them from sagging. Nothing is safe from me when I have my d
rill, countersinks, the correct bit and a pile of screws.
Stick with PL400. It is a proven winner, and it has enough solvents in it
to bite into finished materials (like your floor) and will work when the su
rfaces aren't perfectly clean. When I do a kitchen, I always think I shoul
d have bought stock in that company!
Not that I know of. You might see if you can get Karl to chime in on this
one as he has done a couple or three projects lately IIRC, that have penins
ulas. I do them the way I always have, and that is to trace the base of th
e unit out on the floor when it is in position. I mark back the thickness
of the kicks and strike a line. I use 1/4"X3" or 1/4"X 3 1/2" metal tap in
s to secure cleats to the concrete floor. Yes, I put PL400 underneath the
cleats as it waterproofs my fasteners. Then put the cabinet in place and s
crew it through the kicks into the cleats. If the kicks aren't sturdy enou
gh, I add 2X4 behind them and adjust the position of my cleats accordingly,
and screw the whole shebang together.
On Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 9:31:08 AM UTC-6, Swingman wrote:
You know, I hadn't thought about the difference. When I was framing houses we called anything that we built on site that closed the gap between the ceiling and a feature a "furrdown".
So anything over built in cabinets or coves, the area over bath tubs that would be made into storage cabinets, etc. was a furrdown.
Later when I was more involved in the architectural side, I was building plywood box "valances" for padded window treatments, lighting, etc., and anything else that hung from a wall or ceiling.
Interesting. Just never thought about it.
On 12/8/2015 12:56 PM, email@example.com wrote:
Heard the term "furrdown" all my life, but it can't be just a regional
thing because I get constant requests from purchasers (most from out of
state these last few years) of the thirty to fifty year old homes in
Texas, where kitchen "furrdowns" were common, on whether they can:
"... take the furrdowns out?"
Almost always one of the main topics on the initial meeting to discuss
what they want to do. Most of the time the answer is yes, although we do
see AC ducts run in furrdowns in some of the newer homes, post window AC
I've been asked almost as much why the older Texas houses, especially
tract homes built in the 70's on up, seem to have them in the kitchens.
My standard response is:
Filling that last 12", between the 8' ceiling and the top of a 30" tall
wall cabinet, with sheetrock and tubafours is a whole lot cheaper than a
foot more of cabinet (and that may be difficult to reach in the first
The old "don't put money where you can't see it/use it"?? ... ;)
On 12/8/15 2:55 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
The illustrations are awesome! Thanks a ton for taking the time to
draw them up and share.
Turns out the client could not wait for me to get back from out of town
to do the job. But I am taking lots of notes and look forward to my
next cabinet installation.
"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
On Friday, December 11, 2015 at 5:59:58 PM UTC-6, Leon wrote:
Shows what you know! That's actually "Sharpie Up" which is light years away from Pencil Up. I quit using Pencil Up almost three weeks ago.
Try to keep up, Leon. =8^)
I KNEW you would have to say something!
On Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 8:39:28 AM UTC-6, Leon wrote:
Nope. Sharpie Up is a professional tool for professional use only. You get one chance to do it right, and your only option is to use "Tear It Up" to fix it if you make a mistake.
Bet you can figure out how I know that one...
On Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 4:25:59 PM UTC-6, Leon wrote:
Seriously, you have no idea how many "on site" sketches I have made over th
e last 35 years. I carry a notebook with me at all times so I can detail o
ut all the details on my jobs as needed.
Flashing details on roofs, framing details on remodels, installation detail
s for the million little parts and pieces that make up a job, and even sket
ches I have my clients sign that detail out measurements and position detai
I usually have a Sharpie, a framing pencil and a couple of pens with me. M
y guys make fun of me for "drawing them pictures" but the always fold them
up and put them in their pocket. It certainly isn't unusual to go to one o
f my remodels and see a piece of quadrille paper tacked/taped to the wall t
hat has something completely detailed out down to the measurements. I also
sketch on walls, pieces of plywood, etc.
It sure does cut down on misunderstandings.
I did the notebook paper too, until a few years ago when I asked for
graph paper notebooks. Makes it a little easier to draw something and at
least get the proportions good enough.
A 6" flexible rule is handy as well. Just something that'll stay with
the notebook and make drawing straight lines easy.
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