Cabinet Scribing Hows and Whys
From contributor B:
I do things in a rather old-fashioned way but here it is - if the side of a cabinet butts to a wall, I make the face-frame overlap the box 1/2" or so, depending on how out of plumb the wall is. On the end of a run that doesn't butt to a wall, I make the exposed side hang out the back 1/2" or so, with a rabbet for the back. These get scribed to fit the wall. For bases, I build 2-by platforms and level them with shims. I then face the base with 1/4" ply finished appropriately and scribed to the floor. Then I screw down the base cabinets to the bases. For scribing, I use a really cheap pair of compasses (because they work better than anything else I've tried) to draw a line that mimics the wall shape. I cut to the line with a sabre saw, tilting it a bit for a back-bevel. Sand the edge a bit to smooth it out and get rid of the stringy stuff.
From contributor C:
I always spec the upper and lower carcass to be 1" from the wall and with a 1/4" back that leaves a 3/4" space, which usually is enough for any bumps in the wall. A few times I have entertained the idea of 1" clear to the wall because 3/4" is sometimes just not enough. You just don't know how well the walls will be built so you have to be prepared.
I also have clients who attach their cabs directly to the wall. I don't know how they get away with this and I would not recommend it. Attaching a continuous 3/4" cleat securely to the studs in the wall will allow you to easily attach any cabinet to the cleat along any spot inside the cabinet that is convenient and aesthetic too. I would be careful when using 1/4" backs. If the cabinet back is not shimmed tight to the cleat then when you run a screw through the back into the cleat you run the risk of the back pulling off when it is drawn tight. For this reason I prefer 1/2" backs. The price difference is not that much and for the uppers it really adds strength to the hanging cabinets.
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