Leg Levelers and Cabinet Construction

      Cabinetmakers discuss the assembly details that allow leg leveler hardware to provide structural support for installed cabinets. February 6, 2007

I have been thinking of trying leg levelers for increased plywood yield and decreased install time. However, I can't wrap my head around how the deck would be fastened to the sides (or face frame) in a strong enough manner. It seems to me that this joint would be carrying the complete load of the cabinet and countertop. How are you leg leveler users dealing with this?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor F:
The cabinet levelers are usually comprised of a leg and a socket. The socket usually has a ledge-like protrusion which is turned to face outwards and underneath the edge of the end panel to help transmit the downward force from the end panels through the legs. Each leg is rated for 330#, so if you combine a couple of cabinets together, you should have more than enough support for granite slabs.

From the original questioner:
Okay, I see how it goes now. On face frame cabs, I make the deck flush with the top of the bottom run of face frame. So if I were to use these, I assume I would have to block down 1 1/4" (2" face frame - 3/4" deck) to make it come flush with the bottom edge of the side panel. Is this correct?

From contributor F:
No blocking should be necessary if you flush the end panels with the deck. On end of run cabinets, you'll have to move the outer levelers inwards - away from the outer edge of the cabinet - so that you can run the finished panel down to the floor. You'll soon be enjoying getting six instead of four end panels out of one sheet of ply.

From contributor J:
Thanks for bringing this up. I've been thinking about using levelers for a while too. I had a slightly different idea.

Contributor F, have you ever used a cleat along the wall to set the back of your boxes on and then use levelers in front? It would seem to me this would be a great way to keep everything on plane, assuming you level things front to back. I haven't tried it (yet).

From contributor M:
Why not just attach to the wall and make a box on the bottom and then just level the box and then place the cabinets on top? A lot easier than leveling one cabinet at a time. If you only have a few cabinets, this wouldn't save much time, but would save lumber.

From contributor J:
Thanks. I've done it that way before and it is fairly easy. Toe kicks work out nicely too. My trouble is I've never taken the time to refine my process making them that way. Consequently, I still only get five sides and a big piece of scrap out of one sheet. Old habits die hard... I still build an occasional island with a separate base. The reason I'm interested in these levelers combined with a wall cleat is because of irregularities in concrete slab floors. It would seem to me that this method would make uneven floors a non-issue.

From contributor F:
Contributor J, that's not a bad idea! Charlie Karp mentioned it previously in the Blum Pearls for 32mm cabinetry. The only shortcoming is you would have to notch out the side panels to accommodate the ledger board. Although you could save yourself an extra two leveling feet, you'd need to mount some extra blocking to match the thickness of the leveling feet sockets on the front so that you could slide the cabinets around without damaging them.

From contributor J:
I'd considered resting the sides directly on the ledger without notching them. I figure if you built the box 31 1/4" tall and screwed the ledger to the wall with its top 4" off the finished floor, you could sit the box right on top of the ledger and everything would come out right. I would sleep better with the lower portion of the box either attached to the ledger or to a stud rather than just resting on the ledger. I use 1/2" backs which would be stout enough to hold a screw driven into a stud (using the screws on the ledger as a guide).

By the way, I build framed cabinets using 2" rails and set my decks 1/8" below the top of the lower rail. That would create a 5 1/8" space under the cabinet for me to stick my big fat arms into to drive those screws. Next, set the front with the levelers and move on. Does this sound plausible to you? I've been too chicken to try it out to see how it works.

From contributor F:
Resting the rear of the cabinet on top of the ledger would be easier than notching out the sides higher up. There's at least one guy on this forum who uses the combination of the rear bottom ledger with front levelers. As long as your end panels are flush with the bottom of the deck, the leg levelers will work. Are you trying to subsequently screw through the ledger into the cabinet? That sounds like much more work than screwing through the 1/2" cabinet back into a stud. I'm sticking to using all four levelers front and back and using six levelers on anything wider than 30" as recommended by True32, as I'd rather not have to stock extra ledger material - just one more thing for me to forget!

From contributor J:
No, I wasn't suggesting screwing through the ledger into the cabinet. As to the other point: My side panels would extend approximately 1 1/8" below the bottom of the deck (even with the bottom of the face frame). I should be able to buy levelers and sockets that would work in that configuration, right? Thanks.

From contributor F:
You could use the levelers that way but you would sacrifice the support that they offer your side panels and the vertical force of your countertops would end up resting on whatever fastener you're using to fasten the side panel to the deck. Do you really need to flush the end panels to the bottom of the face frame if it's not an exposed end? By the way, if you screw a plywood stretcher across the top of the back of the cabinet, you'd be able to screw through that into the studs.

From the original questioner:
That's what I was talking about needing to block down from the deck. It's necessary to do so, I think, in order to keep the pressure off of the side/deck joint. As for just making the side panels shorter, I had thought about that - that would make the face frame protrude below the sides, so the box would sit uneven until you put the levelers on. It might not be a big deal, but just a thought.

From contributor B:
I am considering the levelers on kitchen cabinets as well, so your discussion is great. I use them in most garage applications, but I don't use a toe kick. How are you attaching the toe kick to the cabinets when you use the levelers? I would want a solid application, not the flimsy, removable panels.

From contributor F:
To the original questioner: After spending all that time building, finishing and installing the face frame, I can understand why you would want to protect your investment! Nevertheless, you could install the socket and legs prior to assembly to obviate the need for blocking, which seems like an extra unnecessary pain. I don't see what the problem with short end panels is as long as they're adjoining one another.

Contributor B, don't think *flimsy*, think *access* and market it accordingly! If you want a more solid feel to them, you can always shoot a couple of nails at an angle from underneath into the legs.

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