Cabinet Levelers: Worth It?

Opinions vary about whether cabinet leveling hardware is worth buying. April 29, 2012

While researching laser line levels I found the EZ-Level system, and it looks like it maybe the trick to installing base cabinets. It seems a bit pricy but eliminates the use of shims. The cost would have to be passed along to the consumer as it always is, but I'm thinking about giving these a try. Does anyone use them and how do they work out for you?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
Compared to the minimal cost and efficiency of setting a ladder-type kick with plastic shims and a good laser level, I'm not sure the system makes sense economically. I'd also rather see the continuous support offered by a ladder kick, especially on frameless casework. If I were comfortable with supporting only the corners of a cabinet, I'd prefer using standard cabinet levelers, adjusting through the deck rather than through the front of the kick.

I'm a ladder-kick guy, but on the occasional job where levelers are preferred, my preference is to set a continuous cleat at the wall. I make sure they are carefully lasered to height, then I use levellers only on the front. Itís very clean and fast.

From contributor K:
Contributor B - I like your thinking. However, much of our casework never touches a wall. It's a standalone unit like a transaction counter or coffee kiosk or hot plate surround. Moving to an independent base requires us to think about fastening an independent base to the cabinet carcass. Since many of our cabinets (depending on the application) are open face melamine type boxes I don't want visible fasteners going through the cabinet deck. So we thought about fastening a solid wood block on the underside of the cabinet box that, when installed properly, would fall just behind the face of the ladder toe that creates a connection point to drive a few fasteners through the base into the wood block to secure the two pieces. Not a perfect or fail proof system but so far that is what I have come up with.

From contributor B:
Great idea Contributor K. I'd be especially concerned about the EZ-Level system when there's no wall connection to keep the box from skittering around on the floor. With cabinet levelers at least you can toe-screw through the feet to establish some connection to the floor.

From the original questioner:
I think with the EZ-Level system it still screws them to the wall, just not showing it in the videos. My thoughts on this is to use the laser level, lift the cabinets to the line, screw it to the wall, and then just use the EZ-Level on the front. After all, the laser is going to show you just where the back is supposed to be, the front is where I have my main problem in leveling. This would also make it half as expensive not having the levelers in the back.

From contributor B:
They are certainly attaching the cabinets to the wall. It would be difficult to keep faces aligned without attachment. I'm not clear from a quick look at the website if one can separate the front and back levelers, use a cleat for the back line and use both levelers in the front. If one wants to do that, why not just use standard leveling legs with a snap-on kick facing?

I may be missing something here, but unless one is married to the concept of full-height gables (which I'm not), and dead-set against shimming, this system doesn't seem to offer much advantage, and is pricey to boot - more of a solution in search of a problem.

From contributor M:
Our base cabinets are built sturdy enough that the backs don't need shims most of the time, just attached to the wall and shimmed in the front, covered by a toe kick skin when done - it doesn't take long at all. Now for cabinets that are in an environment where they are continually moved and reorganized, but still attached to a wall, this could be useful, but I think regardless of the cost the system is a fail the way it is advertised for use in an everyday kitchen cabinetry compared to a quality installation of a quality cabinet.

From the original questioner:
Contributor B - I think there is just a rod between the two levelers and it comes apart - not for sure on that. I've never used leg levelers, just saw them in catalogues. I've never used them because I mount my toekick solid (faceframe cabinets) and then cap them on site after the install. I'm not married to anything but my wife but I would love to divorce shims! A good leg leveler might be the best and economical way to go but I'm not familiar with the snap on toe kicks? Could you elaborate a little more on that?

From contributor B:
Check out any of the various levelers available - everything I've seen has some sort of spring clip arrangement that attaches (with screws or into a saw kerf) to the back of your kick material (usual 3/4" stock), then snaps onto the levelers. Obviously you've got to set the levelers the correct distance back from the face of the box, and use some slight care setting the clips, though they usually have some lateral play to make things easier.

The levelers usually have an extended flange on one side so the leg can be set to also support the gable of an adjacent cabinet. I worked briefly doing overflow installs for a very high-end kitchen design/build outfit. The company's standards and budget anticipated that an install crew's entire first day would be spent in unpacking, organizing, and laying out, with actual installation commencing the following day. Their installers were incredibly slow, but the work was clean and right. The company loved us, since the two of us could install these jobs in a single long day without breaking a sweat. We didn't do anything differently, just quicker and more efficiently, and were able to anticipate and respond to problems more easily. I think that the old adage about "the job will expand to fill the allocated time" is dead on. What a shame that the reverse isn't true.

From the original questioner:
I did do some research on the clip on toe kicks and I don't think itís for me. I want to continue to attach my toe kick here in the shop and then cap it on site. I want to adjust a leg leveler through the toe kick before it is capped. I am looking at one right now from a place that carries a really good selection and itís basically a bracket that screws to the side of the cabinet or to the back of the toe kick and the bolt has a hex nut on it. So I could notch the bottom of my toe kick and then use a wrench to adjust the leveler. Iím not saying this is the easiest/best way but just what I'm thinking there might be a leveler out there that I have not found yet.