Previously in Woodshop we discussed how to install a cabinet, a crucial skill for new construction. Today we’ll explore the remodeling counterpart: how to remove a cabinet from the wall intact and then (maybe) re-hang it in a new location.
Start by taking everything out of the cabinet. Think of it as a good opportunity to reorganize the contents! Also remove drawers and non-fixed shelves, and unscrew the door hinges from the cabinet frame. These steps reduce the weight and keep moving elements out of the way while you handle the frame.
Assess how the cabinet is currently attached to the wall. This unit in Bob’s house had four screws spaced equally along the top edge of the frame. First, remove any fasteners along the bottom or at mid-height, since it’s the top edge that supports the cabinet’s weight. Then, grab a strong friend and have him or her support the cabinet while you remove the top fasteners. Slowly pull the cabinet from the wall – you might have to run a utility knife blade around the edge so you don’t peel paint – and set it down on a drop cloth.
Next, determine the new position of your cabinet and pre-drill screw holes. At Bob’s house we had the benefit of full barnboard walls, meaning we could attach our screws anywhere and get a solid structural connection. But if the finish is drywall then you’ll be well advised to locate the studs.
Run a level along the wall, too. Bob’s target wall was shockingly out of plumb, requiring us to install a cleat behind the cabinet bottom for spacing, plus trim to fill the wedge-shaped gaps between the wall and the cabinet back. You definitely don’t want your shelves to slope.
Finally, have your friend hold the cabinet steady in its new location until you’ve drilled in two screws for support. Thank your friend. Drill in the remaining screws, reinstall the shelves/drawers/doors, and fill ‘er up.