Cabinet Installation Tools

Ultimate guide to cabinet installation tools (20 top tools)

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The right cabinet installation tools will make your upcoming installation painless … or painful. Not sure what saws, drills, and sanders you need? Or, want to learn about specialty clamps and jacks that will make your install easier? In this article learn what the best tools to install cabinets are.

The average cabinet installation costs around $5000.

Which makes investing a few hundred in the right cabinet installation tools a pretty good investment (if you have the skill and time, of course).

And, after installing over 100 kitchens I know a few cabinet installation tools are unique. But, there are tools a DIY’er will continue to use to make the investment worthwhile.

In this guide you will learn the tools that will:

  • Allow a single person to install upper cabinets
  • Improve the finished fit of the installed cabinets
  • Help simplify complex cuts
  • Take the weight off of you and your help by holding upper cabinets in place
  • And…a few supplies will help hide mistakes and reduce frustration to me!)

And, rather than overspend on tools you won’t use we’ll show you when you do and don’t need tools to help you balance value and budget.

Cabinet Installation Tools

Based on my experience installing over 100 kitchens, here is my list of cabinet installation tools:

1. Cabinet Claw for Holding Face Frames During Cabinet Installation

Pony 8510BP Cabinet Claw, 2-Pack
675 Reviews
Pony 8510BP Cabinet Claw, 2-Pack
  • The Cabinet Claw is an unique tool which combines the multiple steps of face frame cabinet installation into one easy process.
  • Clamp Specifications: works on stiles from 1-1/2 inch to 2 inch; Jaw Width: 2 inch; Throat Depth: 1-1/2 inch; Minimum opening: 2-inch, Maximum opening capacity: 4-7/16 inch.

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 06:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you are installing face frame cabinets and consider no other tools, then this one clamp will make your job MUCH EASIER and HIGHER QUALITY.

\While you may not have heard of a cabinet claw, it’s unique design makes it a must for installing face frame cabinets as it:
  • Secures face frames together securely
  • Uses bi-directional clamping for side-to-side and front-to-back
  • Offers an integrated guide bushing for drilling pilot holes
  • Swing-away bushing keeps the clamp in place while screws are installed
  • Clamps frames while trim-head screws are used to connect the frame

And, if you’re interested in more cabinet clamps check out cabinet clamp guide for clamps from construction to installation.

2. Cabinet Installation Jack (a MUST for DIY Solo Installs)

FastCap Upper Hand Work Support, Extends from 28...
305 Reviews
FastCap Upper Hand Work Support, Extends from 28…
  • Neoprene grip
  • Easy-pump handle
  • Ball detents for positive locking
  • Solid 6″ x 6″ Universal Foot

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 04:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A cabinet jack is a HUGE HELP to hold upper cabinets in place while you level, clamp and screw...

If you’ve installed cabinets before you know one of the most physical jobs is holding upper cabinets in place while they are shimmed, clamped to adjacent cabinets, and then screwed together.  

But the cabinet jack alleviates the weight-lifting by holding the cabinet in place while it is installed.

Key features:

  • Lengths from 18-144″ to support base-first installation or fridge cabinets
  • Holds weight of cabinets while they are clamped or screwed
  • Enables a one-person installation

These work great in combination with #1 on this list (the cabinet clamp) to form the duo know as the cabinet jack and claw.

3. Cabinet Hardware Jig to Install Knobs and Handles (Must Have Cabinet Installation Tool)

Original Cabinet Hardware Jig with Extensions for...
787 Reviews
Original Cabinet Hardware Jig with Extensions for…
  • 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗠𝗢𝗦𝗧 𝗩𝗘𝗥𝗦𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗟𝗘 𝗖𝗔𝗕𝗜𝗡𝗘𝗧 𝗛𝗔𝗥𝗗𝗪𝗔𝗥𝗘 𝗝𝗜𝗚 – TP-1935 accurately installs cabinet knobs and handles of virtually any length, and even drills 32mm shelf pin holes. Works on even the longest cabinet door stile and rails, including shaker doors and recessed drawer fronts. TP-1935 has been designed for drawer fronts up to 42″ wide and hardware up to 38” center to center. Includes TP-1934, extension bars, extended ruler, 5mm drill bit, depth stop and hard carrying case.

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 04:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

After hours (or days) perfecting the cabinets, don't let a CROOKED hardware installation spoil the look.

Installation doesn’t stop when everything is on the wall.

Most cabinet installations involve drilling and installing cabinet knobs or handles. 

So, instead of spending hours with a tape measure, pencil, and combination square marking out knobs take a look at a cabinet knob drill guide to make the job easy and accurate.

Key reasons to use a jig:

  • Ensure accurate hole placement from door to door
  • Avoid door and drawer front damage (which often cost more than the jig!)
  • Professional-grade versions available to install up to 38″ long handle bars

Tip: Use a thick backing block to avoid splintering the back of the door with the pilot drill bit.

4. Use a Laser Level To Prepare for Solid Surface Counters

DEWALT (DW088LG) 12V MAX Line Laser, Cross Line,...
487 Reviews
DEWALT (DW088LG) 12V MAX Line Laser, Cross Line,…
  • Self leveling cross Lines that projects bright crossing horizontal and vertical Lines
  • Green beam laser Technology which is four times brighter than red

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 04:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Make sure your cabinets are PERFECTLY level for solid surface counters (or you'll be re-installing the cabinets).

I had to re-install a kitchen once when the (extremely) uneven floor caused leveling issues. 

Why? Well, the solid surface installers rejected the plane as not perfectly flat.

Now, this was a multi-room wrap-around kitchen with 65′ of base cabinets. 

But, on a basic U-shaped kitchen the risk is the same.

So, for any installer, I highly recommend a laser level in the center of the room to give you a perfectly flat plane to install your base and upper cabinets too. 

Key features to look for:

  • 360-degree beam for “set and forget”.
  • Green line or red line is fine. But, if you do exterior work a green line can be advantageous.
  • Accuracy of these lasers in a kitchen with walls 10-15′ apart should be acceptable.

5. Cabinet Installation Tools to Cut CROWN MOLDING Without CompounD Cuts

General Tools 881 E-Z Pro Crown King Molding Jig…
  • 4 EASY STEPS: Perfectly mitered corner joints in four easy steps
  • ELIMINATE TRIAL AND ERROR: Makes accurately cutting crown molding a snap, eliminating trial and error and saving time and money

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 02:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Eliminate compound cuts with this handy jig that simplifies installing crown molding.

[One of the trickiest jobs in a cabinet installation is cutting inside and outside angles in crown molding.

And let’s face it: most DIY installers will never cut a more complicated angle than for crown molding. Besides, an inside, compound angle on a $80 piece of trim is nerve wracking for an even a professional!

So, make this job a little easier and pick up a tool to simplify the complex compound angles involved with crown molding.

6. Cabinet wedge to position cabinets

The Original Rhino Strong Commercial Grade Air…
  • PERFECT FOR ANY TOOLBOX – 3 SIZES TO MEET ALL OF YOUR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. EASY CARRY STORAGE BAG & 2 PRY BAR TOOLS INCLUDED! Great for multiple jobs and applications such as, Precise Alignment and Leveling. Air lift non-marking shim for window, door, cabinet installations, appliances, HVAC, plumbing.
  • SAVE TIME AND MONEY – Allowing a single installer to do the job of many. Our Shim Bags will help hold in place and level counter tops, door frames, window frames, cabinetry, and more!

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 02:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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.

7. Six foot cabinet level to span cabinets

OX Tools Tradesman Box Level 24'/60 cm Magnified...
155 Reviews
OX Tools Tradesman Box Level 24″/60 cm Magnified…
  • DURABILITY – Lifetime Warranty on vials
  • ACCURACY – Magnified vials accuracy 0. 0005″/ 1″ or . 5mm/ m

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 02:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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.

8. Squeeze clamps for holding frameless cabinets

FastCap JACK The Jack of All Trades (2 Pack)
35 Reviews
FastCap JACK The Jack of All Trades (2 Pack)
  • Multi-purpose jack that does double-duty as a clamp, spreader, and lift
  • Easily lift base cabinets, install shims or adjust leg levelers

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 01:54 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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.

9. Belt sander to sand face frames

TACKLIFE Belt Sander 3×18-Inch with 13Pcs Sanding...
1,491 Reviews
TACKLIFE Belt Sander 3×18-Inch with 13Pcs Sanding…
  • 🏡【2 In 1: Bench & Belt Sander】 Provided with two metal screw clamps, TACKLIFE belt sander can be turned over and fixed to table, acting as a bench sander, lock-on button helps to free your hand, providing more convenience and flexibility.
  • 🏡【13Pcs Sanding Belts】 Come with 6pcs 120 grits and 7pcs 80 grits aluminum oxide sanding belts, saving your money, meeting the requirements for your different projects. Metal clamping lever for easy and quick sanding belt change.

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 02:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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.

Buying Guide

  • If you’re an occasional DIY’er a Tack Life Belt Sander  will do fine.
  • But, for a professional I have used and been a fan of the Makita 4×24-inch  belt sander for power and the best dust collection on the jobsite.
Sadly the Porter Cable, my old favorite and what I grew up using, is being phased out.

10. Stud Finder for locating studs and avoiding wires

Stud Finder Sensor Wall Scanner - 4 in 1...
15,655 Reviews
Stud Finder Sensor Wall Scanner – 4 in 1…
  • The Most Accurate Wall Scanner- Tavool specializes in stud finder for years and adopts the most Advance Sensors Technology for accurately & quickly locating studs wood metal AC wires! In all modes, this wall scanner always detect and indicate the Live AC Wire. Whether you are a professional, homeowner or a DIY enthusiast, you can find great use in this electronic stud scanner

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 06:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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

Features of popular stud finders:

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

11. Japanese pull saw to trim shims

SUIZAN Japanese Pull Saw Hand Saw 9.5 Inch Ryoba...
2,472 Reviews
SUIZAN Japanese Pull Saw Hand Saw 9.5 Inch Ryoba…
  • JAPANESE STYLE PULL SAW: This product is a “Pull Saw.” What most people are used to are European saws, which cut materials via pushing, thus are called “push saws.” On the other hand, Japanese saws cut materials via pulling and thus are called “pull saws,” which is what this product is. In comparison to “push saws,” “pull saws” are lighter in weight, requires less power, and the resulting edge is cleaner.

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 02:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

I’ve mentioned a few times in this article I really prefer a composite shim for cabinet installation.

But, if you found yourself with wood shims, a pull saw is a fantastic way to do flush wood trimming.

And in cabinet installations with wood shims you’ll find yourself in this situation.

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

12. Trim nailer for crown and other molding

PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit,...
2,116 Reviews
PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Cordless Brad Nailer Kit,…
  • NO COMPRESSOR NEEDED: This cordless brad nailer is battery powered, eliminating the need for a compressor, hose, or expensive gas cartridges.

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 02:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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.

13. Miter saw for installing cabinet trim

Metabo HPT C10FCGS Compound Miter Saw, 10-Inch,…
  • 10″ Compound Miter Saw
  • Same tools. New name. Hitachi power tools has renamed to Metabo HPT
  • Miter angle range: 0°-52°, to the right and left for increased flexibility
  • Bevel range: 0°-45˚, to the left with adjustable bevel stops for precision cuts

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 02:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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) 

14. Jigsaw to cut outlet and plumbing holes

DEWALT 20V Max Jig Saw, Tool Only (DCS331B),Yellow
  • All metal lever action keyless blade
  • Battery and charger sold separately. All metal key less shoe level
  • 4 position orbital action
  • Battery & charger sold separately

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 02:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

While your first reaction to a jigsaw on this list might be “Hey, I’m not building cabinets” – this is a tool you may use a few times.

First, every cabinet installation requires a few outlet holes and plumbing holes to be cut. 

And second, if your project will continue to installing laminate counters you’ll possibly 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

15. Hearing protection for saws and nailers

3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector with...
11,823 Reviews
3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector with…
  • NRR of 24 dB (Noise Reduction Rating)*
  • BLUETOOTH TECHNOLOGY lets you seamlessly stream entertainment from your mobile phone and any other Bluetooth enabled device
  • HIGH-FIDELITY SPEAKERS provide premium sound quality
  • INTEGRATED MICROPHONE lets you make and take phone calls without removing the hearing protection

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 04:03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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.

16. Holesaw kit for plumbing lines

Hole Saw Kit, 16 Pieces 3/4’’-5’’ Full Set...
344 Reviews
Hole Saw Kit, 16 Pieces 3/4’’-5’’ Full Set…
  • ▲ Is the price of a good quality product expensive? NO! Change starts from the pocket
  • ▲【Different Designs】: carbon steel, smooth cutting edge, cutting depth,25 mm high precision, wear resistance, impact resistance

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 02:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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.

17. Cabinet Moving Straps and Dolly

Shoulder Dolly Moving Straps - Lifting Strap for 2...
7,200 Reviews
Shoulder Dolly Moving Straps – Lifting Strap for 2…
  • Keep arms/hands free -The Shoulder Dolly recognized the need for your arms to be unconstrained. The need for stabilization, opening doors, and overall balance is all attained.
  • Safely lift and move – Ergonomically designed to promote and facilitate proper lifting techniques. Built with heavy-duty materials, the ShoulderDolly can lift up to 800 lbs

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 02:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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?

18. Wood scribe for filler strips and counter scribing

Profiler+ The Ultimate Scribing Tool
216 Reviews
Profiler+ The Ultimate Scribing Tool
  • Precision Wheels perfectly sized for accuracy with the smoothest rolling action to avoid damage to finished surfaces
  • Adjustable pencil holder, accommodates any marker (2-12mm) so you can continue to use your preferred marker

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 00:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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.

Cabinet to wall filler strip installation is a combination of skill and tools. And typically requires a belt sander and a wood scribe.

One of your first cabinets during an installation might require butting a cabinet up to the wall. Only to find that the wall has a serious bow in it and you’ll need to sand the cabinet frame or filler strip.
  

19. Color putty to magically hide nail holes

Color Putty Company 9716 09716 Putty Blend Kit 16...
62 Reviews
Color Putty Company 9716 09716 Putty Blend Kit 16…
  • Easy application and all colors are intermixable
  • Makes wood finishing a breeze!

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 01:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

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.

20. Portable shop vac to cleanup wood chips and dust

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Vacuum, Wet/Dry, Portable,…
  • A HEPA wet/dry filter traps 99.97% of dust at 0.3 microns
  • Washable filter can be cleaned with a tap water rinse

Last update on 2020-10-27 at 02:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Overview

At the end of every cabinet installation there is a mess.  

As you can guess, dust from the saws, wood chips from drilling holes in the cabinets, and drywall dust from any minor wall modifications are all over. Since you’ll need to get into small spaces all over the kitchen a compact vacuum is a time saver.

Best of all this doesn’t have to be just on of your cabinet installation tools – it’s versatile for your workshop as well to cleanup dust around and in your power tools.

The alternative? A shop vac or a vacuum that wasn’t made for dust and chips (and one I’d get in trouble using…).

Frequently Asked Questions for Kitchen Cabinet Installation Tools

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.

Types of Kitchen Cabinet Installation Tools

Tools to make holes in wood

Installing cabinets is a great DIY project. 

But without planning, following instructions, and having the right tools it can go bad quickly.

So how do you sort out what tools you really need from what’s optional?

Let’s organize your cabinet installation tools into three categories: 

  • Must have: tape measure, miter saw, hole saws, cordless drill, 72″ level, stud finder, jig saw
  • Improves quality: cabinet clamp or claw, cabinet jack, laser level, belt sander, trim nailer, wood scribe
  • Makes certain tasks easier: hardware jig, crow molding jig, cabinet wedge, pull saw, multi-tool, color putty, shop vac

Cabinet Installation Tools Summary

The right cabinet installation tools are the difference between a good and great installation. Without these tools you’ll find a tendency to cut corners, make mistakes and not complete the job as best you could.

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