Kitchen Cabinet Installation Tools

20 must have cabinet installation tools (a pros list for DIY’ers)

This site is reader supported and contains links to affiliates, who at no cost to you, I may earn a commission from if you purchase something. Disclaimers.

The right cabinet installation tools are the difference between a great cabinet installation and a disaster. Perhaps you want to avoid the $5000 professional installation expense and try a DIY cabinet installation? Not sure if you can lift and hold the cabinets? Or, maybe you have most of the tools and want to round your list before the installation day? Whatever your need, the tools in this article will help.


Look, after installing over 100 kitchens I know cabinet installation tools are unique.

In fact, you’ve likely never seen tools like a Cabinet Jack  or Cabinet Claw . But in this article we’ll review these and many more to help your upcoming installation.

Not sure yet if you need to invest in specialized tools? 

Well, consider that there are tools on this list that will:

  • Allow a single person to install upper cabinets
  • Another that will eliminate complex angle cuts on crown molding
  • And a last that will prevent you from needing to re-install base cabinets when the solid surface installer rejects an uneven installation (it’s happened to me!)

So rather than fight an installation, budget a few hundred dollars and make sure you have the right cabinet installation tools for a high quality installation.

You won’t regret the investment later…

Cabinet Installation Tools

1. Cabinet Claw for Holding Face Frames During Installation

Pony Cabinet Claw

Overview

While most haven’t heard of a cabinet claw, it’s unique design is a great quality improvement for face frame cabinets as it:
  • Secures face frames together during cabinet installation
  • Bi-directional clamping for side-to-side and front-to-back
  • Offers an integrated guide bushing for drilling pilot holes
  • 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.

Buying Guide

2. Cabinet Installation Jack

FastCap Cabinet Installation Jack

The cabinet jack takes the weight off you and holds upper cabinets in place while shimming, clamping and screwing. Cabinet jacks are available in lengths from 18-144".

Overview

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.

Buying Guide

  • I recommend the FastCap UpperHand 28-60  that allows you to install upper cabinets first (most are 54″ to the bottom).

3. Cabinet Hardware Jig to Install Knobs and Handles

Cabinet Hardware Jig Installation Tool

Overview

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

Why?

Well 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.

Full Cabinet Hardware Jig Review…

Buying Guide

  • For small jobs I use the TOURACE Jig  that is highly economical and surprisingly accurate.
  • But for large projects, invest in the industry leading Original Hardware Jig  that is all metal and built for long-term use.

4. Laser Level to Avoid Re-installing Base Cabinets

Huepar Laser Level

Overview

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.

Buying Guide

  • The green line Huepar 902CG  is an economical DIY choice.
  • Accessories: 
    • Look for an optional Huepar Tripod  to hold your laser in place.

5. Crown molding guide to eliminate compound cuts

Crown Molding Tool

Overview

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.

Buying GUide

6. Cabinet wedge to position cabinets

Cabinet Wedge to Shim Cabinets

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.

Buying GUide

  • The 3-pack Rhino Strong  are an economical way to help shim.
  • And, once the wedge has the cabinet in place, I also like to use easy-to-snap composite shims like these Nelson Composite Shims  that avoid the sawing you’ll encounter with wood shims.

7. Six foot cabinet level to span cabinets

Six Foot Cabinet Level

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.

Buying GUide

  • The OX Tools 72-inch  six foot level is a great place to start. But nothing fancy here just length.

8. Squeeze clamps for holding frameless cabinets

Base Cabinet Jacks to Lift Cabinets

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.

Buying Guide

9. Belt sander to sand face frames

Belt Sander to Trim Cabinets and Filler Strips

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

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

Buying Guide

Don’t forget: this tool is something you’ll use over and over for pictures and shelving.

11. Japanese pull saw to trim shims

Japanese Pull Saw to Trim Shims

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.).

Buying Guide

12. Trim nailer for crown and other molding

Porter Cable Trim Nailer for Installing Cabinet Trim

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.

Buying Guide

  • For a budget the WEN 61721 Brad Nailer  will work fine for a DIY cabinet installation.
  • But for a serious woodworker or professional installer the Porter Cable  is a tool to look at (or the 20v Dewalt).

13. Miter saw for installing cabinet trim

Miter Saw for Cabinet Trim and Crown Molding

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) 

Buying Guide

  • This might be one of your biggest expenses, and the Metabo HPT  miter saw is a budget option with a quality cut.
  • But, professionals can invest substantially more with the Festool 575306  for the supreme miter saw. Just don’t blink when you see the price!

14. Jigsaw to cut outlet and plumbing holes

Dewalt Oscillating Jig Saw Tool for Installing Cabinets

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

Buying Guide

  • If your woodworking projects will continue the popular Cordless Dewalt Jigsaw  is worth consideration.
  • But for one-time use check out the TACKLIFE  for a budget friendly option.

15. Hearing protection for saws and nailers

Worktunes Hearing Protection With Bluetooth

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.

However, this doesn’t mean it has to be dull! Due to Bluetooth everywhere you can pair up with a dual hearing protector and phone-connected headset.

An then use these later to mow the lawn…

Buying Guide

  • The highly popular 3M Worktunes  feature easy phone integration for Bluetooth music and calls.
  • But for no-frills the old standard, high NRR MPOW In-ear  are a budget option.

Learn more about woodworking hearing protection in our guide.

16. Holesaw kit for plumbing lines

Cabinet Installation Hole Saw Kit

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.

Buying Guide

17. Cabinet Moving Straps and Dolly

Shoulder strap for lifting cabinets

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?

Buying Guide

  • These simple Shoulder Straps  are an economical way to move your cabinets from the truck or garage to the kitchen.
  • Have a lot of stairs? Perhaps a ROVSUN Stair Climbing Dolly  will help with short to long flights of stairs.

18. Wood scribe for filler strips and counter scribing

Profiler+ Scribe Tool for Installing Cabinets

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.
  

Buying Guide

With a very (very) steady hand you can try to scribe by hand.

But I recommend one of these scribes instead:

19. Color putty to magically hide nail holes

Color Putty Cabinet Nail Hole Filler

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.

Buying Guide

  • Color Putty Pack  is my preferred putty for concealing nail holes and small gaps in trim and between cabinets.

20. Portable shop vac to cleanup wood chips and dust

Cabinet Installation Tools - Portable Shop Vac

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…).

Buying Guide

  • If you’ve invested in the Dewalt 20V line-up of tools the Dewalt Vacuum  is a great place to start.

Best Selling Cabinet Installation Tools

Best Selling Tools on Amazon

Last update on 2020-08-08 at 09:53 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Frequently Asked Questions for Kitchen Cabinet Installation Tools

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.

Leave a Reply