Standing Tall Cabinets

Another take on the problem of maneuvering those too-tall cabinets into their spot. August 14, 2007

Is there a formula to calculate how much space you need to stand a tall cabinet upright? I know that the depth causes it to need more room to clear the ceiling, but how much? I have a 24" deep cabinet that is 95" tall. The ceiling height is 97". I don't want to build the base detached unless I have to.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
Remember Pythagoras? A squared plus B squared = C squared. A is cabinet depth, B is cabinet height, C is ceiling height. If A squared + B squared is more than C squared, you have a problem. Remember, if you have a toe kick, that helps if you lean it the right way. A 3" deep kick on a 24" deep cabinet yields an effective depth of only 21" for this purpose if you lean it that way. If you try to stand it up the other way, you're out of luck!

From contributor K:
You will need 98" clearance for that cabinet.

From contributor B:
Something else to keep in mind is to put the top of the cabinet flush with the bottom of the top rail and let the sides stick up. I've been known to knock off the very top back corners with a skil saw so I can stand it up, and then the crown covers it. If I think it might be even close due to variations in ceiling height, I've done it this way. It is hard to do if you don't set the top down flush at the bottom of the rail.

From contributor U:
I just assemble mine standing up in place. Don't have to worry about clearance and don't have to pack a heavy cabinet up three flights of stairs.

From contributor L:
room height 97x97=9,409
cab depth 24x24=576
- 576
the square root of 8,833=93.98404... maximum cabinet height.

From contributor B:
With a 3" deep toe kick, the max height jumps to almost 95". Don't forget that a kick can really help. Don't forget to take that into account when figuring max height.

From contributor A:
Just measure the diagonal of the cabinet end and make sure it is shorter than the ceiling is tall.

From contributor S:
Measure the diagonals to find the shortest. It could be front bottom with kick or the cabinet could be narrow and a sideways diagonal could work better for standing them up.

Just a side note - ceiling openings can be your friend in a pinch, like recessed or lay in lights or HVAC vents.

A few years back I was doing an install for a mall store. We unloaded the semi and had stuff stacked everywhere around the work area. Being one of the bigger guys on the job, a helper and me knocked off the shipping cleats and stood up about half of the cases, no problems. Well, somehow I got pulled away for something and had to leave the site in the hands of guys that I thought could stand up the cases and haul off the packing material while I was gone.

Yep, I ended up working late patching bases that they cut off because the cabinets wouldn't fit and the painters and finishers had to repair the ceiling. I am just happy that they didn't hit a sprinkler head.

From contributor L:
room height 97x97=9,409
cab depth @ toe 21x21=441
- 441
the square root of 8,968=94.6995... maximum cabinet height.

From contributor T:

Will both or either sides of the cabinet be seen? If not, then just cut a 45 across the top back, maybe 1 inch deep so it won't be seen from the inside, and then you can build your cabinet as one unit. I installed a 96" tall double oven cab in a 96 5/8 tall room today, but the 4 inch toe kick base was separate.