How to hang cabinets without backs?

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Forum topic by woodify posted 363 days ago 987 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View woodify's profile


91 posts in 704 days

363 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: plywood cabinets

I’m looking at buying someone’s old kitchen cabinets (made of plywood). Most of the wall hanging cabinets have no backs on them. I’m wondering what the easiest way to hang them would be? It looked like the cabinets were built in place as there was quarter round nailed under each shelve along the wall. I didn’t think to look for any other types of supports while I was at the persons house.

Is screwing a board along the inside top and bottom through the panels sides enough to hold the cabinets? The cabinets will be re-purposed in my garage for tool and shop storage. The cabinets are 45.5” high and most are either 55” or 57” wide but one is 67” wide. All are 13” deep.

-- Woodify ~~

12 replies so far

View Loren's profile


7425 posts in 2280 days

#1 posted 363 days ago

Nail 1/4” backs on. Put a 3/4” x 5” nailer in the upper back
inside, screwing or nailing it in place.


View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


9805 posts in 1250 days

#2 posted 363 days ago

+1 to what Loren said. Adding backs is a good idea.

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

View SteveKnnn's profile


66 posts in 520 days

#3 posted 363 days ago

An alternative to the nailer would be a French cleat.

-- Steve in Richmond, VA

View UpstateNYdude's profile


431 posts in 615 days

#4 posted 363 days ago

Steve stole my thunder, French cleats are awesome and super strong and you can move the cabinets where ever you want.

-- Nick, “Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime's work, but it's worth the effort.” ― Fred Rogers, Be My Neighbor

View bannerpond1's profile


231 posts in 530 days

#5 posted 362 days ago

Go with SteveKnnn’s and UpstateNYdude’s idea. A French cleat is the way to go. It makes hanging the cabinet so much easier.

-- --Dale Page

View reedwood's profile


869 posts in 1308 days

#6 posted 362 days ago

French cleat….bah.
so foo fooey and a pain in the butt. screw it flat to the wall like a man, thru a 1×3 cleat, top and bottom.
it’s a garage, not a museum…..snarc.

If you end up taking the fixed shelves out, you could remove those shelf cleats and make a jig to drill holes every inch for adjustable shelves…. nice feature.

I assume these cabinets are the right size and dirt cheap. You could end up spending the same amount of time trying to remove and modify them vs. just making new ones out of ac plywood and clr. 1×2 pine.

-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude. - Malo periculosam

View firefighterontheside's profile


3861 posts in 488 days

#7 posted 362 days ago

I agree with reedwood. I know the French cleats are nifty, but I would rather just slap the cabinets up and get on with other things. I also hate cabinets, bookcases pretty much anything without backs. Its hard to keep them square. So I say add the backs and nailers at the bottom and top and screw them to the wall. For hanging cabinets I prefer the screws that come with many cabinets when you buy them. They are 2.5 in. long, thicker than drywall screws and have a large washer head with a size 3 Phillips. The problem is I’ve never seen them for sale.

-- Bill M. I love my job as a firefighter, but nothing gives me the satisfaction of running my hand over a project that I have built and just finished sanding.

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1601 days

#8 posted 362 days ago

Flange corner brackets,

Cheap as chips.

View woodify's profile


91 posts in 704 days

#9 posted 361 days ago

Thanks for the comments and ideas for hanging. I never thought about adding backs. I’m getting a kitchen full of cabinets for $200. Has the base cabinets, uppers, and counter top. I’m thinking a mitre station will replace the kitchen sink :)

The garage has been cleared just waiting for the person’s new cabinets to arrive and their old ones removed. It’s like waiting for christmas day. Hoping the cabinets come out intact, fingers crossed.

-- Woodify ~~

View paxorion's profile


603 posts in 677 days

#10 posted 361 days ago

My vote is also for adding a cleat to the back of the cabinets. I’ve done it for a few very inexpensive cabinets I bought so that I could screw them into the walls.

-- paxorion

View Bogeyguy's profile


465 posts in 700 days

#11 posted 361 days ago

For sure you should add a back to keep the boxes square and add the hanging cleats, top and


-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View reedwood's profile


869 posts in 1308 days

#12 posted 360 days ago

Sounds like a good deal! That’s how I got my shop cabinets. Thankfully, I didn’t have to pay for them but I did have to pay 350.00 for new c tops. The old ones were beat.

As a kitchen remodeler, I’m always looking for someone who needs good cabinets for their garage or basement. Can’t stand throwing them away. If they’re really decent, I’ll take them to Habitat for Humanity.

I find that a fine metal cutting sawsall blade works good to cut wall screws without shaking the cabinet to pieces.

Looking forward to seeing the final results, congratulations!

-- Mark - I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude. - Malo periculosam

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