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Reshaping a New Wood Kitchen Cabinet Prior to Installation

by Greg Keefer

Building kitchen cabinets from scratch has a lot of challenges to overcome but is a rewarding experience. One of the most difficult challenges is dealing with destination spaces that aren't square. A kitchen cabinet constructed as a single unit may have to be customized. Everything goes smoothly until you find that your finished work of art--custom made to fit your space--has warped out of the carefully measured shape you created.

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Hopefully you screwed on the back instead of gluing it.

Reshaping Your Kitchen Cabinet

Assuming you used screws and don't have to take the chance of damage while removing a glued back, here's what to do:

  • Remove the screws. Set them aside for now.
  • Lay your cabinet on a flat floor. Laying flat helps avoid twisting it further out of shape. Use a soft weight to flatten the cabinet if needed. Use a shim to support the cabinet where there's a gap between the cabinet and an uneven floor.
  • Use a diagonal clamp. Minimal pressure should be applied across the diagonal from corner to opposite corner. If you thought ahead to trace a template of the completed cabinet on a large piece of paper simply reshape the cabinet to the template. If you don't have a template use the original measurements to recreate the right shape. You can also set the whole affair upright and do your best to fit it into the destination spot before clamping it.
  • Re-attach the back of the cabinet. This should hold the shape. If warping is going to be a problem, install the cabinet as soon as possible to avoid having to repeat the process.

Wood shifts for a variety of reasons but light pressure usually corrects this problem when you run into it.

About the Author

Greg Keefer has been a do-it-yourselfer with lots of experience in how to do things right and how to do them wrong. He enjoys sharing his experience with the hope of helping others to

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