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DIY Guide: Cabinet Installation Accessories

Updated: September 9, 2022
Installing cabinets is a difficult job that can be made easier with a bit of knowledge and the right tools. In this guide learn what accessories you should have on hand for your next cabinet installation.
Fastcap Cabinet Jack Holding Cabinets
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DIY Guide: Cabinet Installation Accessories

Having the right cabinet installation supplies on hand is a must for a cabinet installation. Both pros and DIY’ers will sometimes make the mistake of not having the right screws, shims, or other essential parts on hand. And off to the hardware store you will go looking for supplies.

But it’s not that simple – having not only the supplies but also the right type is a must.

For example, having shims doesn’t mean you have the right shims. How so? Because not all shims will be right for a cabinet installation. Take for instance a composite shim that will easily break and reduce need for cutting. Versus it’s wooden cousin that is a pain to cut and splits readily.

Or perhaps it’s the right cabinet screws that need to be the right length, not fall off the tip of the bit and are self-tapping. 

In this article I’ll show you all the tips and tricks to have the right supplies on hand.

Cabinet Installation Supplies

1. Composite cabinet shims

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Last update on 2023-01-26 at 11:03 / Images from Amazon

On one hand you can install cabinets with traditional shims, but on the other why deal with cutting them? Composite shims just snap off and no need to cut them. When it comes to cabinet installation supplies this is an absolute must have.

Common uses of shims:

  1. Underneath base cabinets to level them
  2. At the top back of base cabinets between the wall and the cabinet.  Shims prevent pulling the cabinet out of front-to-back level.
  3. At the top and bottom of upper cabinets between the cabinet and wall (same reason as #2).

So, what’s wrong with wood shims?  The grain runs the long direction and anyone who’s worked with wood knows two things happen.  First, putting a screw into a thin wood strip invites splitting.  Second, wood shims won’t break off you’ll need to cut them.

2. Cabinet knob drill guides

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Last update on 2023-01-26 at 18:24 / Images from Amazon

At the end of almost all cabinet installations is the nerve wracking process of drilling holes for knobs and handles.  

What makes this so traumatic?  Well, drilling a hole is permanent and cabinets are expensive. If you aren’t an every-day professional there are many areas of potential error.  

A cabinet knob guide will do two things:

  1. Allow one-time setup of hole placement.
  2. Provide a guide for drill bits to avoid “wandering” that can cause crooked handles.

3. Magnetic drill bit holders

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Last update on 2023-01-26 at 11:03 / Images from Amazon

Although you can install cabinets without a magnetic drill bit holder, it makes the job a lot less difficult to have one.  Why? Well, when the day comes for installation you’ll find yourself holding an upper cabinet, drill in hand, screw on the bit and…off falls the screw.  Hopefully nobody is around to hear your disapproval after a few attempts.

4. Magnetic wristband

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Last update on 2023-01-26 at 11:14 / Images from Amazon

Keeping on the theme of magnets, one of the cabinet installation supplies you’ll be reaching for all the time is pilot hole bits, cabinet screws and various bits. Why not make that job easier and have a magnetic wristband hold what you need?

During my years installing cabinets I’ve lost quite a bit of time hunting down bits, losing screws or even bringing an upper cabinet back down to the floor so I could grab more cabinet screws.

5. Saw horses - A Place to Work and Hold Trim

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Last update on 2023-01-26 at 17:23 / Images from Amazon

I have a pretty strict policy of not working on the floor. Perhaps it’s because of my height, but working on the floor when there are saw horses available to let me work at waist height is my preference.
 
You’ll find these cabinet installation supplies handy for:
  1. Setting upper cabinets on for marking pilot hole locations
  2. Supporting saws – such as your miter saw
  3. Makeshift worktable
  4. Storing crown molding, cabinet filler strips and other supplies off the floor

6. Miter saw stand

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Last update on 2023-01-26 at 11:14 / Images from Amazon

While you can use your miter saw from saw horses (or even the floor) I recommend a good quality miter saw stand to improve the quality of complex cuts with long trim.

Most installations require cutting of filler strips, base shoe, toe kick and the complicated cuts with crown molding.

7. Color putty

Color Putty Company 9716 09716 Putty Blend Kit 16...
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Last update on 2023-01-26 at 11:03 / Images from Amazon

I’ve used this for twenty years to hide small imperfections in face frame joints following an installation. While #7 on this list of cabinet installation supplies it is something I never install a kitchen without.

This putty comes out of the jar as a workable clay-like putty that you work into seams in cabinets to blend and hide imperfections.  I recommend buying 3-4 different colors (light to dark) and mix them as needed to find the perfect match for your cabinet color.

8. Clear finish for touch-ups

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Last update on 2023-01-26 at 19:53 / Images from Amazon

On most kitchens there’s an inevitable ding or improvised board or joint that needs a little finish touch-up. While this is the last of the cabinet installation supplies it is one you will almost surely need.

9. Sheer-rated Cabinet Installation Screws

Powerhead, Cab Screw, 10, 3 in, PK150
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Powerhead, Cab Screw, 10, 3 in, PK150
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Last update on 2023-01-26 at 20:03 / Images from Amazon

Last but not least, to properly install cabinets you need sheer-rated cabinet screws that will make a secure cabinet-to-wall connection.

Can you use drywall screws for installing cabinets? Some do, but they weren’t made for weight of cabinets. 

Summary

After you’ve picked up your supplies be sure to check out our cabinet installation series for more on how to install cabinets:

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Last update on 2023-01-20 at 11:06 / Images from Amazon

  • About the Author
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( Woodworker )

Eric has been a professional woodworker for over thirty years and has worked in small cabinet shops making everything from kitchen cabinets to hand-made furniture. Now working from a home woodworking shop Eric is sharing his passion for woodworking, tool advice and how-to knowledge from his Minnesota-based woodshop.

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Disclaimer: DIY projects can be dangerous, hire a professional (link to Home Advisor) if unsure.