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How to Cut Cabinets Down for Appliances to Fit

February 2nd, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Purchased a new refrigerator, range or hood and it won’t fit? Need to know how you can cut the surrounding cabinets down to the correct dimensions for the appliances to fit? You may need to alter the countertops as well. Making changes to counters will not be discussed in this article.

You are going to need a few tools for the job:

1) Skill saw
2) Table saw
3) Salsaw…if the cabinets get cut off in place
4) Cordless or electric drill
5) Prop sticks if you are working with upper cabinets
6) Framers square
7) Hammer
8) Screws or nail gun (stapler)
9) Glue
10) An assortment of hand tools such as a putty knife, screw drivers, diagonal cutters (dikes)

Measure the existing appliance openings in your kitchen and compare them to the new range, refrigerator, or hood that you will be installing.

With a pencil mark the existing cabinets where they need to be cut off. You should have studied the situation very well by now and have a good handle on how you are going to cut the cupboards down before making these marks.

Depending upon the style cabinets that you have, you may have to make the alterations with the cabinets remaining installed. Most face-frame cabinet styles will not allow for an individual cabinet to be removed. This means that you will have to cut the parts sown while they are still attached to the walls. You may need to peal laminate or veneer, cut center styles out and rebuild certain areas of the cupboards to make the new appliances work.

If you have a European style kitchen, then you should be able to take the cabinets out to in order to cut them down and rebuild them. Most boxes are built as individual units with this specialized cupboard design. This makes them easy to remove, cut-down (alter) and reinstall.

DO NOT start removing anything until you have a solid plan. This is not the kind of project where you can’t just start removing cabinets and cutting things down in hopes that the job will turn out OK. You must know what you are doing; otherwise, you will create a mess.

If you have any reservations about accomplishing this project successfully, please hire a professional cabinet maker to make the upper or base kitchen cabinet alterations.

Prior to cutting the cupboards down you may need to get a few new materials such as cabinet tops, bottoms or doors. It all depends upon the type cabinets you have and the alterations that you are making to them. Many appliance alterations that I have made allowed me to reuse some of the existing cabinet parts, including veneer or plastic laminate.

1) Mark the cupboards where they need to be cut off
2) Take the doors off of the cabinets
3) Unscrew them from the walls and countertops
4) Remove counters if necessary
5) Remove any plastic laminate from the cabinets that you are cutting down that will get reused. Refer to this article on how to remove Formica.
6) Use the skill saw, table saw or salsaw to make your cuts
7) Rebuild the cabinets with screws or staples
8) Re-laminate any damaged areas with new mica or the old laminate that will not be needed somewhere else
9) Cut the doors down and reinstall them

How you cut these cabinets down really requires a combination of skill and common sense. In order for the project’s completion to look good and also function properly, YOU MUST NOT get in a hurry in any way. Every aspect of cutting the cupboards down and then rebuilding them is going to require that you take your time and think through what you are doing. Check, double check and then check it again before you cut anything. In some situations you absolutely cannot afford to mess-up.

The way that I learned how to make new appliances work with old cabinets was through examining every situation very carefully. I already had the cabinet making skills under my belt; the rest of the learning process was just using common sense.

  1. February 3rd, 2010 at 11:01 | #1

    Great Article! I did not know that you could adjust the size of kitchen cabinets so the appliances could fit. I will definitely use this in my remodeling projects!

  2. February 4th, 2010 at 15:17 | #2


  3. kenneth
    July 1st, 2010 at 16:54 | #3

    most of the time you can reheat glue with an iron and tape the loose piece down until glue resets

  4. Sherry
    January 15th, 2011 at 09:16 | #4

    Do you know how to widen a refrig cabinet opening? Our new refrig is 32 3/8 wide, the refrig cabinet opening is 32 1/2 wide. It should JUST fit. However, we found that the refrig’s middle part is slightly wider than the top and bottom part. So the refrig can only go half way into the cabinet until the middle part stuck. The refrig cabinet has trim on both sides, which cannot be easily taken out. What would you recommend for this situation? Can we sand one or both trim on the refrig cabinet to gain just probably 1/8 inch? Thank you in advance!!

  5. steve
    May 15th, 2012 at 19:55 | #5

    I’m trying to increase the height of the opening for my refrigerator and there is a wood spacer I need to take out and cut down to size. I can’t figure out how the spacer comes off. seems like it could be a tung and grove. any ideas?

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