Cutting down a kitchen cabinet

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Forum topic by NBeener posted 11-17-2011 08:09 PM 30653 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3202 days

11-17-2011 08:09 PM

My friends got a new fridge, AND wanted to yank the laminate countertop, and install granite tile.

I volunteered to help.

The countertop thing is moving along swimmingly.

The fridge is probably 1/2” too tall for the space under the upper cabinet. They figured it might be.

All the upper cabinet tops are at the same level on the wall, so … they’re not keen on raising this one up, a skosh. They’re hardwood cabinets—probably Oak—including the “aprons.”

So … I want to cut down the bottom apron … by the needed +/- 1/2”.

My thought ? Just bring it back to my house, and do the four cuts on the TS, with masking tape on the cut lines, and a very fine (80t ?) blade.

I also thought about the router table and a straight bit, or … just hogging it all off with the belt sander, and 80-grit paper, but … I keep coming back to the table saw.

Any thoughts about the “best” or “right” way ??

I’ll check back, this evening … before I start in on it.

Thanks !

-- -- Neil

18 replies so far

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3460 days

#1 posted 11-17-2011 08:18 PM

Neil, this brings back memories of last year (I’m too old to remember much after that!)...
I had the same problem. The builder put in the wrong cabinet over my fridge and it limited the size of the fridge I could buy. I took the doors off, ran back and 2 sides through my table saw, dismantled the waste and re-attached the top. I turned it from a cabinet to an open shelf. Everyone who sees it likes it better that way… and a got a big honkin’ refrigerator!
Table saw is the easiest way to go….

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View ShaneA's profile


6956 posts in 2626 days

#2 posted 11-17-2011 08:25 PM

If you can get it off the wall in good shape, that will be half the battle. I think sending it thru the table saw, or using guides on a circular saw will be the way to go. I am assuming you will be only removing the needed area from the “bottom” of the cabinet, which will not be too visible to the eye. Should work out, good luck.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2951 days

#3 posted 11-17-2011 09:00 PM

I would think you would have more control on the TS for this item.

-- Life is good.

View patron's profile


13609 posts in 3369 days

#4 posted 11-17-2011 09:12 PM

did this with my brother in D.C.
over the phone
he couldn’t take the cab down

tape off the face
cut close with jig saw

run router with straight edge offset
with double tape

(or piloted template bit )
to clean up
and chisel in the corners

i guess it worked fine
i forgot to look when i was there
but the bigger fridge was nice

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View DS's profile


2926 posts in 2448 days

#5 posted 11-17-2011 10:31 PM

Keep in mind that most fridges require an air gap of 1” above the fridge for proper function since the condenser coils are on the back of the unit.

If you seal this tightly the fridge will not function correctly or have a shortened lifespan.

Most all appliance manufacturers have installation guidlines on thier website that state how much air gap they need.

Only true built-in fridges with front exhaust vents can be sealed tight to the cabinets.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop's profile

Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop

644 posts in 2719 days

#6 posted 11-17-2011 10:38 PM

Hey Neil, depending on how much over hang the faceframe has you could just trim off at the bottom without running into the bottom shelf. However, watchout for unseen nail in the faceframe. Depending on how it was attached either with just glue, biscuits or nails you might run into that with a carbide tip and hurt the blade somewhat. Usually there is around a 1 to 1 1/2” of overhang on the bottom anyway so there should be enough room to trim. Just watch for appropriate air gaps for the fridge. The TS is the best way to trim it off. Just watch for metal on the way through. Good Luck.

-- Drew -- "I cut it twice and it's still too short!"- Rock-n H Woodshop - Moore, OK

View DS's profile


2926 posts in 2448 days

#7 posted 11-17-2011 10:48 PM

Neil, check the leg levelers on the fridge. They usually can adjust +/- 1/2” up or down.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4950 posts in 3988 days

#8 posted 11-17-2011 11:04 PM

I set most uppers above the fridge at 72”. I have done the trim with a belt sander VERY CAREFULLY. Worked out well ‘cause I couldn’t take the stupid 12” deep uppers down w’out a major a$$ ache. Cab guys need to study the newer dims before design/install.
I appreciate your situation.


View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2795 posts in 3466 days

#9 posted 11-17-2011 11:10 PM

Remove or adjust the leg levelers. If the fridge is on wheels.. remove them?

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3701 days

#10 posted 11-17-2011 11:22 PM

I would use framing square and mark the line on all four sides, and cut it with a circular saw.

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 2796 days

#11 posted 11-17-2011 11:22 PM

I’m probably going to have to do the same thing when this fridge dies. The one the wife wants is to tall for the current opening. I wish you great success.

I’d go with the table saw if it’s not to hard to take the cabinet down.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15369 posts in 2646 days

#12 posted 11-18-2011 12:51 AM

I’d second Patron’s advice: “run router with straight edge offset with double tape (or piloted template bit )
to clean up and chisel in the corners”...

Then a buddy to hold the vac close to the action for dust control. Good luck, Neil!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2997 days

#13 posted 11-18-2011 01:45 AM

This is the kind of cut that is so quick and easy to do with a track saw, take it off, cut it, put it back up.
If you haven’t got a track saw, I would make a zero clearance guide for your circular saw and do it with that. Make scoring cuts first, then follow up full depth, clean up with block plane. To avoid break out, make the first cut right front to back, 2nd – left to right along the front, 3rd back to left front.

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3695 days

#14 posted 11-18-2011 02:02 AM

Take a handsaw with a very thin blade, or hacksaw if you suspect metal fasteners, and cut the bottom rail where it meets the side stiles. Pop off the rail and reinstall at the proper height. No finishing, cutting or running a router above your head sideways.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7604 posts in 2829 days

#15 posted 11-18-2011 03:56 AM

Why take it down? They make tools for trimming cabinets…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

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