Installing Frameless Upper Cabinets

Installers discuss how to keep frameless cabinets stiff, square and well aligned during installation. August 23, 2006

I am relatively new to frameless cabinets, having only built one set in the past seven years. I am wondering if you install your uppers with the doors on and then open them to secure to the wall, or do you just hang the box, secure it, then hang the doors and adjust the doors afterwards? This may seem like a silly question, but a long row of upper cabs that I hung in the latter mentioned way really gave me the fits while adjusting the doors that were about eight feet or so from my beginning cabinet. It seems that any variance from plumb or level with the first cabinet graduated well past the capacity of my Blum hinges to adjust for. And yes, the first box was plumb and level; but, it seems without a face frame that you can unknowingly tweak the front of the box and hence knock your doors out of adjustment. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor A:
We use the Camar rail and hanger system and it helps with situations you mentioned.

- All doors are removed during install.
- Hang cabinets on rail, plumb and level as close as possible.
- Clamp and screw together as you go.
- Reinstall doors and adjust.
- Attach to wall with screws after all adjustments

From contributor B:

I use the Blum cabinet hangers, which also hook onto a rail. It's by far the best way to hang frameless cabs because each cabinet can be adjusted for height, depth and tilt. The cabinets need to be made for the hangers, 1/4" ply set in a dado 3/4" in from the back edge. The hangers screw to the cabinet sides so the backs don't need any strength of their own.

From contributor C:
You might want to invest in a PLS (good and reasonable) laser level to set the rail on the wall. This is not absolutely necessary but it is faster and easier than a level. Doing frameless and not using the hangers is like, well, trying to walk around like those guys with their pants halfway down to their knees.

From contributor D:
I have used hangers for the past fifteen years but got tired of the track ending between studs where I had to use a molly. I now just use 3/4" back material. If the cabinets end 14" past the stud the back will carry the extended weight. The cabinets might be a little heavier but the trade off is they are absolutely square. I use some temporary spacers or studs set on top of the base cabinets then assemble all the upper cabinets together and screw to the wall. If I need to shim behind I just slide in a shingle. I put screws in as many studs as I can get. A lot of my jobs have over height upper cabinets and the 3/4" back makes me worry less about them coming off the wall. I have a current job in the shop with 64" high uppers. Try hanging a 64" tall corner lazy susan cabinet from two hangers. The 3/4" back is between the two end panels, the same width as the decks and the same height as the cabinet, the decks are cut 19mm less deep. If I have cabinets over a washer/dryer where there aren't any lowers to support them during installation I use suspension fittings and a rail.

From contributor E:
I install wall cabinets first, before the base units. I made a torsion box beam, (12" wide x 8" high x about 8' long.) I support it on skinny (12' wide) horses I built. The horses are hinged at the top, and a chain about half way down limits the spread. They are made so that, with beam on top, the top of the beam is at about 54" from the floor, typical height for wall cabinets. I can finesse the height of the beam to be right on the laser beam, simply by pushing the horses’ legs closer or farther apart.

I then set a whole row of wall cabinets on the beam, screw them together, shim as needed and then screw to the wall. Like contributor D, I have a stiff back to the cabinet. I use 1/2". 3/4 would be even stronger.

From contributor F:
If I hung a run of uppers eight ft long, and it was off level, why would that cause door alignment problems? If the face of all the boxes is on the same plane, and the boxes are square, the doors will line up - even if they're on the ceiling.