Installing Separate Toekicks
To avoid confusion: Build cab box. Turn over so bottom is up (easier to work on). Build toe kick box and set on cab in place. Cut attaching strips and glue/nail strips to cab bottom against inside of toe kick box. Remove toe kick box and let everything dry.
This method is self-aligning in the field and once kick is level, cab is level. For islands, do same thing, except you can attach the kick box to the floor with strips in the same manner, then set the island on top. You can also use levelers/feet on the inside corners of the box if the island is to be left unattached to the floor.
I use this toekick method for full height cabs, also. This allows me to be within 7/8" of the ceiling (if necessary) when the cab is installed on its base, because the cab can be picked straight up and set on its base and the only clearance needed is the thickness of the attachment strips (3/4") plus a little wiggle room (1/8"). Tilting a tall cabinet upright is easy this way, because you don't have to worry about hitting the ceiling.
From contributor B:
I've been building separate toe kicks that are continuous for the whole run (up to 8 feet, of course). Just level 'em, screw them to the wall, and put one screw through the bottom of one cabinet to keep them from drifting. A couple of disadvantages are that you must be sure to shim the toes under the ends, where the direct weight of the cabinets is, and you have to lay out your cabinet locations pretty carefully, because the toes are hell to move once you have a whole run of boxes on them. For islands, nothing could be easier. Just screw them to the floor from inside with a few angle brackets after leveling. Of course, you want to use a few more screws in the bottom of island boxes!
After years of doing this, we have started to use legs. I tried them long ago but found reaching the back legs to adjust was no fun. Now we don't use back legs. We hang the cabinets to the wall (yes, base cabinets) from a modified French cleat. Then tweak the level adjustment with legs on the front only. You can slide the cabinets along the wall, so installing this way is more forgiving. Toe kicks are now just a board that snaps on the front, and can be removed if needed. Saves an average of about half a day per kitchen.
From contributor I:
I'm curious how you modified the French cleat. Can you explain? I just don't see why you would need to modify it, as long as we are thinking of the same thing.
From contributor A:
Sounds like a quick install. What do you do if you need to go back later and remove a cabinet for damage or a remodel? How is your French cleat modified?
From contributor B:
Here you go. The 1/4 x 1/4" tongue on 3/4 thick cleat lets the cabinet float in and out 1/4", because no wall is really straight. Unlike French cleat, floating out does not make the cabinet rise up as well.
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