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Custom Ikea Kitchen : Fitting Cabinets


I had previously built a pantry for our kitchen, using Ikea cabinets and custom fronts. (See some of the linked articles at the bottom of this page.) I had then moved on and replaced the cabinets on the "easy" side of the kitchen. It was now time to tear out the cabinets on the sink wall (the "hard" side) of the kitchen.

Tearing out cabinets is surprisingly quick and easy. I had all of these removed after just a few hours -- and I worked slowly and carefully. I did NOT use a sledgehammer, as I had to flatten most of the cabinets to fit into my van for later disposal. So, I used a drill/driver and unscrewed everything that I could.

Here is a picture from back several months ago when I removed the bulkheads above the old cabinets. These ducts are the challenge, now that I am ready to install cabinets. I had previously patched the drywall, and built a small plywood box to reconstruct the cold-air-return that occupies the second stud bay (to the right of the metal ducts).

One thing that I was focussed on was how I was going to support the Ikea cabinets. Normally they hang from a metal railing that is installed along the ceiling, but that would not work no, with those ducts in the way.

I built a custom box in place to fit over the two metal ducts. I used only screws, so that this could be opened or accessed in the remote chance that we need to access them.

While doing so, I made sure to position the left hand side of this box such that it would be directly adjacent to the inside of the ikea cabinet that would be at the end of the rown. In that way, I could screw through the wall of the cabinet into this box, to help support it.

Here the ducts are boxed in and painted white. After I removed the old cabinets I patched and painted the wall where needed.

I need to cut the new cabinets to fit around those ductwork boxes. To help me figure out the sizes of the cuts that I need to make I first assembled one of the other cabinets and hung it loosely on the rail. I then used a level, as shown here, to figure out where the BOTTOM of the cabinets needs to be. I could then measure UP from there to the ductwork boxes and use those measurements to figure out how much I needed to cut away from the Ikea cabinets to allow them to fit.

I came up with this plywood support that I built to go across the cabinet, just below the ductwork boxes. The idea is that this would strengthen the ikea cabinet, since I had to cut away so much of the top, and provide a place to screw it into the wall.

I ran a thin dado along the bottom edge of this nailer/support piece, to accept the thin back that Ikea cabinets have.

BUT THEN I HAD SOME SECOND THOUGHTS... I just was not feeling confident in the strength of this "chopped up" cabinet. It needed to be strong, and it needed to be securely attached to the wall such that it would never fall. So after sleeping on things I came up with this "belt-and-suspenders" approach.

First, I drilled some 3/8" holes into the plywood nailer/support piece, and glued and inserted some hardwood dowels. This gave me a solid place to screw into when I attached this to the ikea cabinets. I would screw in from the cabinet sides into this dowel -- you can see the screw pilot hole in the photo.

SECOND, I built this small "shelf" out of some leftover cherry. I then fastened this to the wall under the cabinet. It then provides support to the bottom of the cabinet. It is virtually invisible, tucked away up in the back corner, and just looks like a piece of molding. I am considering adding it to the other areas in the kitchen, to have a consistent look.

In the next two photos you can see the two modified cabinets ready to be installed. The left hand one has the most work, since it has to fit over the larger of the two ductwork boxes, and also partially over the smaller one. The other cabinet only has a small section cut out of the top/left corner.

Here I am lifting the second cabinet into place.

The right hand side of the cabinet was not modified at all, which helps with the illusion that there is nothing really there. It is tucked up against the side of the ductwork box, and I added a few screws up there (where my hand is in the photo) to fasten it into place.

Here is a close-up inside look at the two moodified cabinets. The right-hand cabinet has very little space lost. The metal thing in the top-right corner is where the cabinet is clipped onto the support rail that runs along the ceiling for all the other cabinets. This cabinet was able to clip onto that on the right side.

The left hand cabinet has a larger obstruction, but it is far up near the ceiling, and we still have some space in front of it for storage.

And here are those cabinets with the doors installed. From the outside there is no indication at all that they had to be custom modified to fit into place.

(The cabinets still need end panels fabricated to cover up those white cabinet ends.)

And speaking of custom touches... In this photo you can see that I am adding a wooden brace above the back of the dishwasher. There was room there, so I thought it was a good idea to slip this in. First of all, it provides more support to the counter top, since there is just a gap in the cabinets there for the dishwasher. Secondly, since it is screwed into place, it very firmly ties the end cabinet to the row of cabinets -- the end cabinet was a narrow cabinet all by itself, so this gives extra strength.

Later I added another crossbar along the front of the dishwasher. This serves the same purpose and gives a place to attach the "anti-tipping" straps from the dishwasher. (I don't think our dishwasher is at all an odd sizes so I was rather puzzled that there was such a large 1" gap above it when compared to the ikea cabinets.)

Some of the Tools/Supplies Used In This Project: (Affiliate Links)

Wera Pozi-Driv screwdrivers
Wera Pozi-Driv driver bits
(All the Ikea Hardware have pozi-driv tips. Philips screwdrivers do work, but these work better.)

SensGard ZEM hearing protection
Stanley Leverlocks -- love these tape measures
Other auto-locking tape measures
Irwin Quick Grip XP600 Clamps
Minwax Oil-Modified Polyurethane

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases you make using my affiliate links.


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See Also:

Custom Ikea Kitchen : Intro and Bulkheads

Custom Ikea Kitchen: Cabinet Fronts

Custom Ikea Kitchen: Side Panels

Custom Ikea Kitchen: Making Doors