Cutting Out Oven Cabinet Openings

Oven cabinets come with small openings that need to be enlarged to fit the brand of oven selected. Here, installers share their methods for making a clean, precise cut. December 14, 2005

I almost made a serious error while cutting out a double oven opening in a factory built cabinet. As most of you installers know, most factory built oven cabinets come with only a small opening that must be enlarged to fit the specific oven being used. I have traditionally used both circular saw and jig saw for cutting this opening. The other day while making the plunge cut with the circular saw, it kicked back and almost ran across the face frame which would have ruined the cabinet. As it turned out, the kickback only resulted in a 3/4" long gouge at the top of the opening which, thankfully, will be covered by the oven control panel. I never have been comfortable using this method because of the possibility of damage from kickbacks, scratches, and splintering. But I don't know of a better method for cutting the opening in a factory built cabinet. I do place tape on the cabinet frame as well as the plate of the saw to help avoid damage. I would be interested in hearing how others enlarge this opening.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor A:
I would use a jig saw with down-cutting blade so chips are on back. Wax the base as well or shoot it with some lubricant spray.

From contributor B:
I use a router and 1/4" spiral bit 1 inch cutting length. I use either the routerís factory supplied guide or a straight edge.

From contributor C:
I use my job-site table saw, getting as close into the corners as possible, then finishing the cuts with a japsaw or jigsaw. As for any horizontal cuts in the center of the frame I use a Makita trim saw and a plywood straight edge/jig. The base of the saw runs on the plywood, which you set exactly on your cut line.

From the original questioner:
I have considered using a router, but where do you attach your straight edge? What do you fasten it to that isn't going to be cut away? To contributor C: You have got to post a picture of how you use a table saw to cut an opening in an oven cabinet. The cabinets I'm referring to are usually 27" or 30" wide, 24" deep, and 90" tall. I can't imagine how you could run something this big through a job-site table saw.

From contributor C:
I'm so used to working with euro oven-towers with the removable face frame, sometimes I forget about the standard face frame cabinets, which is apparently what we are talking about here.

From contributor D:
I don't like downstroke blades myself. They can also jump up on you. I've been installing 26 years now and use a t101b Bosch blade. I first use blue painters tape, drill corners with a 3/8" drill bit, then jigsaw the rest. This keeps the dust down in house, is quieter and safer.

From the original questioner:
To contributor C: I figured you were thinking something like that (euro cabs). To contributor D: I use the same Bosch blade, but only to finish the corners. I prefer not to take a chance on leaving little dents and/or bounce marks all along the length of the cut. Even with a new sharp blade, there is always some vibration. But then, I guess I'm taking a chance on kickback too. I've been doing this as well as building cabs and trimming houses more than 25 years. But I've yet to see a good way to cut out this opening. If I knew what oven was going to be used before installation, I could lay the cab on its back and the cut out would be much easier. The oven usually hasn't been decided on though until I come back to do the lock out and shoe mould. However, most of the time, oven selection is made between 3 or 4 models. Maybe I could make a full size pattern for each from MDF and attach it somehow to the cab, then use a pattern bit in a router to cut out. Has anyone tried this before?

From contributor E:
I use a Festool plunge saw and their guide rail. I finish the corners with a japanese saw or jigsaw. There is no kickback or tearout.