Best Cabinet Jacks

Guide to Cabinet Jacks Guide – Best 7 Jacks to Install Cabinets

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If you haven’t installed a kitchen before you likely haven’t heard of cabinet jacks. In fact, I’ve installed countless kitchens and wasn’t aware of them until about five years ago. Learn what these jacks are, how to use them, and what’s best for your cabinet installation style.

A cabinet jack has one job: hold an upper cabinet while you screw it to the wall.

Sounds simple, right?

But if you haven’t installed cabinets before you might not appreciate the simplicity of this tool. 

In fact, with most upper cabinets made of heavy MDF, upper cabinets are a shoulder straining 50-75 pounds. However, simply lifting the cabinets in place and then setting a cabinet jack under will free your hands for shims, leveling and screwing.

Editors Choice
FastCap UpperHand
Installing Bases First
FastCap LittleHand
Most Versatile
Cabinet Jack + Claw
FastCap FC-80595 80595 Pole
FastCap Little Hand HD 3rd Hand Support System, Set of 2, 16.5-Inch to 22.8-Inch
Pony 8510BP Cabinet Claw, 2-Pack
Working Range
28-60″
16.5-22.8″
57-144″
Pad Size
6×6″ fixed
6×6″ fixed
3×3″ articulating
Weight Capacity
150 pounds
150 pounds
150 pounds
Micro-adjustment?
Yes
Yes
Yes
Acccessories
Nylon Bag
Uses
Holding upper cabinets in place
Installing Upper Cabinets over Bases
Crown support, dust shield, truck cargo jack
Shipping
Editors Choice
FastCap UpperHand
FastCap FC-80595 80595 Pole
Working Range
28-60″
Pad Size
6×6″ fixed
Weight Capacity
150 pounds
Micro-adjustment?
Yes
Acccessories
Nylon Bag
Uses
Holding upper cabinets in place
Shipping
Installing Bases First
FastCap LittleHand
FastCap Little Hand HD 3rd Hand Support System, Set of 2, 16.5-Inch to 22.8-Inch
Working Range
16.5-22.8″
Pad Size
6×6″ fixed
Weight Capacity
150 pounds
Micro-adjustment?
Yes
Acccessories
Uses
Installing Upper Cabinets over Bases
Shipping
Most Versatile
Cabinet Jack + Claw
Pony 8510BP Cabinet Claw, 2-Pack
Working Range
57-144″
Pad Size
3×3″ articulating
Weight Capacity
150 pounds
Micro-adjustment?
Yes
Acccessories
Uses
Crown support, dust shield, truck cargo jack
Shipping

Last update on 2020-08-03 at 00:54 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Editors Choice: FastCap UpperHand

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

Installing Bases First

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

Cabinet Jack + Claw

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

What is a Cabinet Jack?

A cabinet jack is a specialty tool that will hold upper cabinets in place during installation. The jack incorporates large surface pads to provide stability and micro-adjustment knobs or levers to set the cabinet at a precise height. Since the weight is off the installer the shimming and screwing are made easier.

Cabinet Jack Features

When looking at what makes for the jack there are some obvious and subtle things to consider:

  • Maximum and minimum length
  • Weight support
  • Extendable lengths
  • Size of top and bottom pads
  • “Freestanding” vs. swivel heads
  • Reach for microwave and fridge cabinets
  • Brand reputation
  • Micro-adjustment of the lever or adjustment screws

When considering all of these, however, the #1 need is the right length. While all jacks differ in other areas, the wrong length will ruin your upcoming cabinet installation.

NameRatingFeaturesShop Amazon
FastCap Upper Hand4.7528-60″ of range to install most upper cabinets (which are ~54″ to bottom)Check Price
Quick Support Pole4.6Excellent range of 49-114″ for all upper cabinets – and as a truck cargo barCheck Price
FastCap Third Hand4.5With 57-144″ reach for assisting with microwave/fridge cabinets and crown molding.Check Price
FastCap Little Hand4.516.5-22.8″ of reach for installing upper cabinets last.Check Price

 

Best Cabinet Jacks

Choosing the right cabinet jacks requires understanding where you’ll start the installation from.  Not sure or first time installing cabinets? 

Then start by installing the upper cabinets first. 

And, to make your choice of jacks simple and economical I recommend the FastCap UpperHand. While one jack will work, consider picking up two for longer cabinets and extra stability.

1. FastCap UpperHand Cabinet Jack (28-60")

Editors Choice for Cabinet Jacks

Fastcap Upper Hand Cabinet Jack

The UpperHand cabinet jack* is my choice for a DIY install with the right working range and price point.

This jack has a wide base and top pad, supports heavy cabinets up to 150 pounds, and with a 28-60″ reach will work for almost all upper cabinet installations.

I own this cabinet jack, and here’s a few features I like about it:

    • Stands in place without falling over on large 6×6 pads
    • Heavy duty upper squeeze handle for adjustment
    • Micro-adjustment with positive grip top extension
    • Quick adjust tab to slide the jack to rough height
    • Top and bottom pads have a rubberized gripping surface
    • Extends from a shorter working range to longer with dual locking detents

A pair of these is ideal as you can set one under the already installed upper cabinet with a little tension for a firm ledge. And then set the next jack under the upper cabinet you are installing  after it is lifted in place.

The only downfall? Due to it’s maximum reach of 60″ it falls short for microwave and refrigerator cabinets. But hey, woodworkers are innovative right? Just set a base cabinet underneath the jack with a board as a resting place to reach those taller cabinets.

2. FastCap 3-HLITTLE 3rd Hand Cabinet Jack

Best when installing base cabinets first

Fastcap little hand cabinet jack

A FastCap Little Jack* works great for a remodel or update to cabinets when the bases are already in place.

With a 6×6″ top and bottom pad these jacks will easily hold an upper cabinet in place. To use simply place on top of a board spanning the lower cabinet (or counter for finished kitchens). Then place the cabinet on top and use the lever to adjust the cabinet to it’s final height.

3. Quick Support Jacks (49-114")

Best range and economy

Quick Support Cabinet Jacks

Similar in design to the FastCap jacks, these quick support poles feature a working range great for all cabinet jobs: 49-114″. And these jacks have a 154 pound load capacity to support just about any upper cabinet you can throw at them.

4. FastCap 3rd Hand Support Cabinet Jack

Crown molding, taller upper cabinets and dust shields

FastCap-Support-System-144-Inches-3HAND5 Cabinet Jack

The popular FastCap 3rd Hand Support* features a long range of reach will work great for taller upper cabinets and crown molding. While typically too long for the 54″ under-cabinet height they will serve other purposes.

Yet another FastCap on this list.

If you haven’t noticed, this niche of tools is dominated by FastCap and they have jacks to cover just about every scenario.

With this entry the “3rd hand support”  jack extends 57 to 144″ and has fully articulated ends that can support angled tasks like crown molding. And maximum load is 150 pounds per jack.

5. Fastcap Heavy Duty Upper Jack (57-144")

Multipurpose for tall cabinets, microwaves and overhead drywall

Heavy Duty Cabinet Jack

A FastCap H2PCSystem jack* will do more than just cabinets. With it’s 57-144″ reach this jack will help with crown molding, drywall and many other jobsite projects.

By adding another seven feet of reach FastCap has one of the longest cabinet jacks on the market. And with removable feet this jack will convert from a jack with 6×6″ pads to a support with 3×3″ articulating pads for finesse jobs like crown molding.

With it’s range of 57-144″ this helps it double as a drywall jack and can hoist anything from HVAC runs, joists, drywall, crown molding, decking and anything else you can fit on top of it. You can even use it apply pressure for gluing.

Key features:

    • Creating a dust shield
    • Mounting a laser level
    • Supporting drywall
    • Holding microwave or over-fridge cabinets
    • Crown molding
    • Window coverings
    • HVAC

For a professional contractor this jack, in combination with the 28-60″ UpperHand, make a great pair.

6. T-Jak Jack for Drywall and Upper Cabinets (53-84")

T-Jak Cabinet Jack

The T-Jak 104* supports a 53-84″ working range to meet all heights of cabinets. And for contractors it serves a second job as a drywall jack with pads.

One of the pro choices, in part due to it’s higher price, but also because of it’s screw-type adjustment and 400 pound rating.

This jack also features extension rods to take it’s working height close to 12 feet. And when paired with it’s drywall tabs it is built for holding a sheet of drywall to the ceiling.

7. T-Jak Mini Brute Cabinet Jack

T-Jak T-Jak-MB-101-Mini-Brute

Now this tool earns it’s name. Since it not only works excellent for jacking upper cabinets, it can do multi-purpose chores around the construction site with it’s massive 400 pound weight capacity.

8. Base Cabinet Jack

FastCap-JACK-Jack-Trades-Pack Cabinet Jack for Base Cabinets

A Jack of All Trades base jack* will help shim and level base cabinets. And this often frustrating task needs all the help it can get.

What other kind of jack could there be? Leave it to FastCap to introduce a tool most cabinet installers may not even be aware of: the “Jack of all Trades” for base cabinets.

This jack isn’t the same style as others on this list as it’s meant to lift base cabinets. And typically just a fraction of an inch.

So why would I want this jack?

If you’ve knelt on the floor trying to grab a heavy cabinet and insert a shim at the same time you’ll know it isn’t the easiest job. This jack allows you leverage to lift the base cabinet slightly and then insert the shims.

How to use a Cabinet Jack

If you haven’t installed cabinets before it’s tempting to start with the base cabinets. 

But in most cases this will lead to more issues, heavy lifting in awkward positions and a potential for damaged base cabinets.

Why I Install Upper Cabinets First

I’m the kind of carpenter that doesn’t build things on the floor, lift things more than I need to or make a mess I don’t have to.

So it sounds tempting to use the base cabinets as a resting place for upper cabinets right? 

Well, unfortunately it creates a few issues:

  • You will be leaning over the 24″ deep bases for *everything*
  • Increased risk of damaging the base cabinets with your tools
  • Awkward lifting angles, even with a jack
  • And, to use a jack you’ll need a sturdy plywood base spanning the lower cabinets

But, if you’re adding a cabinet to an existing kitchen (rare!) there might be a few uses for a shorter jack.

Two Jacks are Better Than One

If you’re installing with a partner, you’ll have the luxury of being able to use two cabinet jacks instead of one.

And, by doing so, you’ll gain the advantage of stability as you start to install shims and screw the cabinets to each other.

Using a Jack by YOurself

With most upper cabinets maxing out at 48″ you’ll be able to lift the cabinet in place by yourself.

And that’s when a free-standing jack, like the UpperHand, is useful to allow you to lift and rest the cabinet in place.  Then once the cabinet is set:

  • Use the adjustment lever to set the height of the cabinet
  • Then, install screws into the adjacent cabinet
  • Insert shims as needed against the wall and screw the cabinet to the wall.
  • Release the jack

Seven other uses for a cabinet jack after the project is done

For $50-100 you’ll be able to re-use a miter saw, cordless drill or other cabinet installation tools.

But what will I do with a cabinet jack when the project is over?

Here are seven things you can use a jack for after the kitchen is installed:

  1. Use as a load bar in your truck to prevent shifting of cargo (the FastCap 3rd Hand works best)
  2. Make dust shields for drywall projects
  3. Hold microwave cabinets in place during installation
  4. For the taller jacks, like the T-Jak, hold drywall to the ceiling
  5. Use as a spreader for framing projects to nudge (or hold) walls in place
  6. Support laser levels for tile projects
  7. Hold deck beams in place during rough framing

Cabinet Jack and Claw

After you’ve set the cabinet on the cabinet jacks the next task is to install shims* and cabinet screws. And that’s where the cabinet claw comes into play:

You can check the price and reviews of the Pony Cabinet Claw* on Amazon.

Now obviously the cabinet claw will only work for face frame cabinets, so for a frameless design you’ll want to consider the FastCap Jack of all Trades* that will provide a secure grip will the cabinet is installed. And it even doubles as a cabinet jack for base cabinets.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cabinet Jacks

How do you hang upper cabinets yourself?

Upper cabinets are best installed using a cabinet jack that will hold the cabinet in place so your hands are free to screw the cabinet to the wall.

What is the best cabinet jack?

There are two types of cabinet jacks in this article and which one you choose will depend on your installation style.

How many cabinet jacks do I need?

For upper cabinets under 18″ you can use a single jack. However, for cabinets over 18″ two jacks will allow the installer to more easily balance the cabinet during installation. Due to most upper cabinets lengths at 24-36″ two cabinet jacks are recommended.

How do you use cabinet jacks?

With a cabinet jack, you can install cabinets using these steps:

  • Lift the cabinet into position
  • Position the cabinet jack underneath
  • Make height adjustments with the cabinet jack
  • Attach a cabinet claw or cabinet clamp to the adjacent cabinet
  • Level the cabinet
  • Install face frame or cabinet-to-cabinet screws
  • Install shims against the wall as needed and screw cabinet to the wall

Now without a cabinet jack you’ll be manually holding the cabinet in place during each of these steps. While I’m 6’3″ and have years of manual labor to make this job easier, if you’re tackling this as a DIY’er you’ll appreciate this small investment in your health.

Summary

For the price of a dozen cabinet knobs you can improve your cabinet installation with a cabinet jack – and use it for future projects.

Resources

Manufacturers:

  1. FastCap – makers of many innovative cabinet installation tools.
  2. T-Jak – specializes in heavy duty, professional jacks. But note that these jacks can be tough to find.
  3. Rockler – multi-purpose jack from a major tool supplier.

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