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Best Cabinet Installation Tools For DIY or Pro

Updated: March 16, 2023
Without a laser level, cabinet jack and cabinet claw a quality cabinet installation is hard to do. In this guide learn what cabinet installation tools will make your next installation easier and faster.
Cabinet Installation Tools
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Best Cabinet Installation Tools For DIY or Pro

FastCap Cabinet Jack

Hold Heavy Upper Cabinets While Screwing

Top Pick: FastCap Jack


The best cabinet installation tools are a combination of tools you likely have in the garage AND specialty tools for installing cabinets:

  • Laser levels to ensure perfectly level base cabinets for your granite tops
  • Cabinet jacks that will hold upper cabinets while you screw
  • Cabinet claws to make face frame cabinet installation faster

The benefit of investing in a few hundred dollars of tools to install cabinets? 

Well, when compared to a professional installation you can still save thousands. Of course, if your skills or health don’t allow for the lifting and demands of an install you will want to use a pro.








Types of Cabinet Installation Tools

Specialty Tools

  • Cabinet claws
  • Cabinet jacks
  • Cabinet hardware jigs
  • Cabinet wedges
  • Crown moulding jigs
  • Wood scribe

Basic Tools

  • Miter saw
  • Six foot level
  • Cordless drill
  • Stud finder
  • Trim nail gun
  • Hole saw
  • Belt sander
  • Jig saw
  • Laser level
  • Trigger clamps

Everything Else

  • Flust cut Japanese saws
  • Moving straps
  • Color Putty
  • Hearing protection

1. Cabinet Jack To HOld Upper Cabinets While Installing Screws

Cabinet Jack

Our Picks: Budget friendly FastCap UpperHand or the heavy duty T-Jak with 400-pound capacity (available on Amazon or FastCap.com).

Installing upper cabinets is usually a team effort.

One installer lifts and holds the upper cabinet while the other installer aligns, installs screws, drops screws, wants an adjustment and,  you guessed it, the fighting can start.

But, using a cabinet jack frees both installers to do the important work by simply fitting under the upper cabinet and taking the weight. And with a micro-adjustment handle allows for precision placement of the cabinet.

Freeing you to worry about alignment, shims, cabinet screw installation and level.

And, as a bonus, these jacks work great to help install microwaves and shelving.

Related Article: DIY Guide to the Best Cabinet Jacks

2. Cabinet Hardware Jig To Drill Handles and Pulls

Cabinet Hardware Jig

Our Picks: While professionals will opt for the top quality True Position Tools Jig but on a budget the quality TOURACE will handle small or large jobs (both available on Amazon).

After drilling hundreds of drawers and doors the first experience I had with a cabinet hardware jig was both disappointing and exciting.

Disappointing? Only because I hadn’t purchased one sooner and saved myself the hassle of slightly crooked handles.

Aside from being able to quickly drill repeated holes, this jig prevents drill bits from wandering in course grain wood like oak.

There are dozens of imitations on the market – professionals know True Position Tools has the best jig on the market. And, with its class leading ruler length can handle even the widest of drawers (or long handle bars).

3. Cabinet Claw for Face Frame Cabinets

Bessey Cabinet Claw

Our Picks: There are two top cabinet claw brands we recommend: PONY or BESSEY that are designed for heavy duty use (both available on Amazon).

While a traditional clamp will squeeze two pieces of wood together, they only work in one dimension.

The challenge with cabinets? Frames need to be compressed together and keep their back-to-front dimension flush.

The solution? A cabinet claw that clamps in two directions. And, as a bonus, has a guide bushing to drill holes for trim head cabinet installation screws. When it comes to cabinet installation tools these simple clamps are a must have.

4. Color Putty to Hide Gaps and Holes

Cabinet installation tools - color putty

Our Pick: Simply rub into gaps or nail holes and wipe off this magical Color Putty .  Best of all, colors can be mixed with your fingers to match grain or stained woods.

I haven’t installed a kitchen I didn’t use Color Putty on.

Due to it’s plyable, finger friendly application it can be applied anywhere. And with the ability to mix colors to customize to your project it is the ultimate in versatile.

Wondering where you’d use it? Well, crown molding nails, face frame gaps, toe kick, base shoe and any other nail or crack can be quickly made invisible.

5. Wood Scribe For Fitting Cabinets and Walls

Cabinet installation tools - wood scribe

Our Pick: The versatile EasyScribe Scribing Tool is perfectly designed for wall scribes or filler strips.

So connecting flat cabinets to each other is simplified with clamps and screws.

But how do you match a flat cabinet to a curved wall?

With a wood scribe, of course. This tools simply traces the outline of the wall to the edge of the cabinet. Then, using a belt sander, you can simply sand the edge of the cabinet filler strip or cabinet to match. All of which makes this a must have among cabinet installation tools.

Related Article: Guide to Wood Scribes

6. Laser Level For Ensuring Perfectly Flat Counters

Cabinet installation tools - Laser Level

Our Pick: Solid surface counters must have PERFECTLY flat cabinet installations and this Bosch 30ft Cross-Line Level is a must for any install.

I had to re-install the base cabinets in a kitchen a dozen or so years ago when the (extremely) uneven floor caused leveling issues. 

Why? Well, the solid surface installers rejected the plane as it wasn’t perfectly flat. I’ll say they were a little too picky, but regardless it cost me a half day to fix.

If your kitchen will have solid surface counters AND you have an L or U-shaped kitchen it’s worth using a laser level to ensure your base cabinets are installed flat. 

To use one of these tools you’ll want to install it on a pole in the center of the room, set the laser line for the upper cabinets (bonus, not required) and base cabinets so you have a visual reference as to “perfect”. Then simply install and ship cabinets to this highly visible line.

If you have the budget a 360-degree laser is best. 

7. Crown MOlding Jig for Easier Cuts

Kreg crown jig

Our Pick: Cutting crown moulding requires a dual bevel miter saw – or this Kreg Crown Jig that simplifies a complex task.

Cutting crown molding can be tricky for even a professional. With the compound angles you’ll need to put your saw through (if its even capable), precise fit requirements and math most DIY’ers struggle.

The solution? This simple jig will take one of the compound angles away, and lets you simply cut a 45-degree (or other) and worry about just a single dimension.

8. Cabinet Wedge to Shim Cabinets

Cabinet installation tools - cabinet wedge

Our Pick: Nudging cabinets into place is easier with the Rhino Strong Air Wedge and Shim that can move (or hold) even the heaviest of cabinets.

Now this tool might be a surprise to even a cabinet installation professional.

The cabinet wedge is an air powered wedge that will help with a task you don’t even know will be an issue: lifting base cabinets just ever-so-slightly to find perfect level.

And then you can place the shim.

But seriously – is this worth it? Yes! Leveling base cabinets on uneven floors is a major pain-point and this nifty tool (or 3 of them, in fact) will make the job easier.

The alternative? You’ll be lifting, shimming, and leveling while fussing with shims and bulky cabinets. And I don’t like that amount of time on the floor.

9. Trigger Clamps for frameless Cabinets

Cabinet installation tools - trigger clamps

Our Pick: Frameless cabinets require a high quality clamp to hold the cabinet while installing screws. And the FastCap Jack of All Trades will do both that AND reverse its jaws to lift base cabinets.

As an upgrade to the cabinet wedge (at least for base cabinets) and a 2-in-1 deal for frameless cabinets make this FastCap unique tool a professionals consideration.

Key features:

  • Reversible jaw for lifting or clamping
  • Large, heavy duty trigger clamp for holding frameless cabinets firmly in place.
  • FastCap innovation and reputation

And coupled with the cabinet jacks the combination provides a quick and effortless way to steady a cabinet and securely screw it with perfect alignment vertically and horizontally.

10. Six Foot Level For Installing Cabinets

Cabinet installation tools - six foot level

Our Pick: A six foot level is invaluable during installation and the quality OX Tools Tradesman Level is a good investment for pros or DIY’ers.

You can’t install a kitchen without a level.  And I’m not talking about that 12″ long plastic level you have in the utility drawer.

A cabinet installation requires at least a 6′ level for a number of reasons:

  1. Ensure cabinets spanning gaps over ranges, sinks, and other areas are level with each other.
  2. Checking cabinet alignment vertically between upper and lower cabinets.
  3. Making sure your lower cabinets are absolutely flat for installing solid surface tops.

This is an easy cabinet installation tool to skip, but the consequences can be expensive if your project isn’t level.

11. Belt Sander For Flushing Cabinet Frames

Cabinet installation tools - belt sander

Our Picks: You simply can install cabinets without this tool. Which is why a DIY needs the budget SKIL 6-amp Belt Sander and professionals can opt for the Cordless METABO Sander

I can’t remember an installation where I didn’t use a belt sander to adjust either a face frame or cabinet back. 

Due to kitchen walls and drywall that aren’t perfect you’ll need a belt sander to adjust the cabinet sides, face frames or bases.

Because your woodworking aspirations will determine what size and type of belt sander you’ll need there is a range of cheap to professional. For example:

  • A single installation a belt sander can be found for under $50 that will do the job.
  • But for around $200-250 you’ll find sanders with more power, better dust collection and larger belts.


Cabinet installation tools - stud finder

Our Pick: Why guess where the lines were when this ProSensor 710 Stud Finder uses a line of lights to show the stud edges?

Cabinets falling off the wall.

Drilling a cabinet knob in the wrong spot.

Hitting an electric line or plumbing with a screw.

Look, there’s no reason to hit anything behind the wall while installing cabinets. Due to readily available 4-in-1 stud finders that can locate just about everything behind the wall you cannot safety install a kitchen without a stud finder.

Want another option? Check out cabinet hanging rail systems for an alternative to screwing cabinets directly to the wall.

Features of popular stud finders:

  • Locate wood stud edges to center screws
  • Find electrical lines
  • Identify plumbing / utility lines
  • Metal stud identification

13. Japanese Saw for Flush Cuts

Cabinet installation tools - Japanese saw

Our Pick: Many woodworkers don’t know that a saw like the SUIZAN Japanese Flush Cut Saw can cut on top of finished wood with little risk of damage. Making this saw perfect for shims and tight spaces.

While I prefer a composite shim for cabinet installation because they snap off, if you found yourself with wood shims, a flush cut Japanese saw is a fantastic way to do flush wood trimming.

A great benefit of this tool is it’s reusable for future woodworking projects where flush cuts are needed (dowels, thru tenons, etc.).

14. Cordless Nail Gun

Cabinet installation tools - nail gun

Our Pick: Ditch the noisy compressor and install trim and crown with ease using the Porter Cable 18-gauge Brad Nailer

Cabinet installation almost always involves some sort of trim – including the tough-to-tackle crown molding.

And while you could tackle this with a pilot bit, brads and a hammer with a nail set I’d recommend against it.

Especially with four common nailing tasks:

Best of all, if you own one of the modern battery ecosystems there’s a cordless option to skip the noisy air compressor.

16. Miter Saw For Cutting Trim

Cabinet installation tools - miter saw

Our Pick: No cabinet install can be done without a miter saw to cut filler strips and this no-frills Metabo 10-inch Compound Miter Saw is a great addition to any garage.

Every cabinet installation requires a miter saw to cut trim and crown molding.

Because it makes quick work of helping install cabinet filler strips between face frames, cutting trim, and slicing complex angle crown molding you’ll find installing a kitchen without one a challenge.

A few things to look for:

  • You can skip the cost of the compound, sliding miter saw if you use a General Tools jig as mentioned above
  • But, make sure you invest in blocking or an in-feed / out-feed table for supporting the trim
  • 10″ is fine for homeowner use (I build kitchens with a 10″ saw) 

17. Jig Saw for Cutting Pluming and Electric Holes

Cabinet installation tools - jig saw

Our Pick: A jigsaw is infamous for cutting its own cord so why not start without one and pick up this Dewalt Cordless Jigsaw?

While not something you think about first, every cabinet installation requires a few outlet holes and plumbing holes to be cut. 

And, if your project will continue to installing laminate counters you’ll need this for cutting out the sink hole.

A few features that should be top of mind for a jigsaw:

  • Adjustable stroke for aggressive cuts in soft wood, or less aggressive in harder woods (and laminate tops)
  • Smooth machined bottom to not scratch the surface
  • And variable speed control to adapt to number of teeth on the blade
  • Cordless to avoid (literally) cutting the cord

18. Hole Saw Set for Plumbing

Cabinet installation tools - hole saw set

Our Pick: Investing in a quality hole saw set and mandrels is a must and the top brand Dewalt Hole Saw Set is where to start.

Every kitchen or bath installation involves drilling a few well placed 1-3″ holes in the cabinets for plumbing hot/cold water supplies, waste return lines, and dishwasher hoses.  

While you can saw these holes, I prefer to take a few extra minutes and locate the holes and then use a slightly larger hole-saw.

A few things to look for:

  • Variety of hole saws up to 4″
  • Quality of the mandrel
  • Depth of the hole saw for thicker material

Fortunately, most hole saw needs in cabinets are for thin material up to 3/4″. So, no need to break the bank on a cabinetmaker-grade set of hole saws.

19. Hearing Protection

Cabinet installation tools - hole saw set

Shown: Don’t forget the noise and grab a pair of the 3M Bluetooth Ear Muffs to block saws and nail guns from damaging your ears.

This is a part of cabinet installation most forget about until the saws and nailers start.

But, you’ll need high quality noise reducing headphones to avoid ear damage.

And with bluetooth hearing protection you can listen to music or make and take calls from these earmuffs.

20. Cabinet Moving Straps

Cabinet installation tools - cabinet moving straps

Our Pick: These ingenious Shoulder Dolly Moving Straps will help move heavy cabinets into place (and up/down stairs)

Don’t forget the first part of installing cabinets is getting them in the room.

And for a DIY installation that can mean a heavy lift of bulky cabinet boxes.

So, why not take a page from appliance movers and prepare ahead with shoulder straps designed to redistribute the load and prevent injury?

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What tools are needed to install kitchen cabinets?

While there are many tools required, a cordless drill, miter saw, jigsaw, cabinet jack, cabinet claw and a level are the main tools required.

Can I install kitchen cabinets myself?

Yes but only with the right tools like a cabinet jack or cabinet lift that will allow you to support upper cabinets while in the air.

What screws do I use to hang cabinets?

The standard screw is the GRK Cabinet Screw with a length of 2-1/2″. However specialty screws like the GRK Trim Head are used for connecting face frames.

How do you hold cabinets in place during installation?

To hold cabinets in place during installation use a cabinet jack that will allow you to make minor adjustments to the cabinet height and hold the cabinet in place.


By now you probably realize the right cabinet installation tools are the difference between a good and great installation. So, rather than find out during your installation you could use a tool grab them first. 

  • 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.

2 thoughts on “Best Cabinet Installation Tools For DIY or Pro”

  1. Great article, thanks for putting all of this together! I was laid off last year and started building cabinets, looking to fill a gap and start installing them myself as well. I’ve been piecing some of this together but this is thorough and comprehensive. I’ve also been helping out Sleep in Heavenly Peace lately as well, awesome organization.

  2. Adam,

    Appreciate the nice comment and hope things are turning around – SHP is a great organization and good to hear you are able to help!


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