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Before installing kitchen cabinets yourself…

Looking through the prebuilt kitchen cabinets at the home improvement store, you might be tempted to just buy some and screw them up. Especially if you already have the basic tools.

  • power driver/drill with bits
  • tape measure
  • stud finder
  • 4 ft level
  • wood clamps x 2

Add a youtube video and you have a fun project, maybe. But there can be gotchas. Here are some things to look at before you dive in.


Today’s cabinets are intended for today’s construction. Drywalled rooms of standard size with every corner square. If this is your home, basic tools and procedures will do. Have fun!

The problem is many Milwaukee area homes feature older lath and plaster construction. Those walls started a little freehand and haven’t exactly squared themselves up over the years. To compensate stock cabinets had wider frames and site built cabinets were not unusual. These are all things to look for when you first start shopping cabinets. Measure twice on different days, and you might want to add a framing square to your tool kit.


Obviously, each swinging door needs to be level and plumb, and every fastener needs to find a stud. The problem is cabinets attach not only to the wall, but each other. You’ll need to level the floor or plumb the walls over the length of the whole assembly, and attach each cabinet’s ‘face frame’ to the next with some precision. You might need a table saw for shims and custom parts. But mainly, this is fiddly work. If you don’t enjoy that sort of thing, it won’t look good in the end.


Most cabinets enclose both plumbing and electrical connections. These will need to be removed and reinstalled, and if there is any question about the mechanicals you’ll be covering up, now’s the time to have them checked out. If you’ve already got a bucket of plumbing tools, not a problem.

Despite everything, there will be times stock cabinets don’t quite fit, and a bit of custom woodwork is required. We never pass up a chance to buy tools, but you might collect something else. Before your Milwaukee kitchen remodel, or even after it’s gone a little wrong, call Milwaukee Handyman at 262-439-8620 for a FREE estimate. Our craftsmen don’t have cabinet stretchers, but you’ll think they do!