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How to shorten a kitchen cabinet

Updated March 23, 2017

It may be necessary to shorten or cut a kitchen cabinet to make room for other kitchen items, such as a fridge or other large kitchen appliances. Shortening a kitchen cabinet is also an option to create more space, whether you are shortening the length, width or depth of the cabinet. You do not have to remove the cabinet to shorten it. Cutting and shortening a cabinet can be done within a couple of hours.

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  1. Unscrew the screws and hinges holding the kitchen cabinet door in place. Put the screws aside and remove the door completely from the cabinet.

  2. Remove the shelf inside the kitchen cabinet, if applicable. The shelf also needs to be shortened, if one or more shelves are part of the cabinet.

  3. Measure the part of the cabinet you wish to cut off. Use the measuring tape and pencil to draw a line around or inside the entire cabinet where the cut must be made to shorten the cabinet. Use the square to make sure the pencil line is even. This step must be done for shortening any side of the cabinet. The lines will be placed on the length or width if making depth adjustments, and on the depth if making width or length adjustments.

  4. Place the shelves from the cabinet on a flat surface, if applicable. Use the measuring tape, pencil and square to draw a line across the shelves to indicate where the shelves must be cut to fit the new shortened cabinet. For example, if the cabinet is shortened 5 inches, the shelves must be cut down 5 inches as well. Shortening the cabinet's height does not require changing the shelves.

  5. Cut both the shelves and the cabinet using the reciprocating saw. Cut slowly and follow the straight pencil line to ensure the cut is straight and even. If you are shortening the width or length, remove the side or top pieces as you will need to reattach them after the shortening is complete.

  6. Apply the shortened cabinet measurements to the cabinet door, if shortening the length or width of the cabinet. Draw straight lines using the pencil and square and cut the cabinet door using the reciprocating saw.

  7. Use the sandpaper to smooth out the newly cut cabinet, door and shelves to remove splinters and cracks. Do not over-sandpaper the edges, as this will change the measurements. Simply remove the obvious cracks and splinters, so you do not get splinters when using the shortened cabinet.

  8. Reattach the shelves in the cabinet using the pre-existing holes inside the cabinet and reattach the sides or top of the cabinet, if applicable. Place the cabinet door up to the cabinet and reattach it using the hinges, screwdriver and screws you put aside in Step 1. Open and close the cabinet door to ensure it is secure.

  9. Tip

    If you are shortening the cabinet's length and the cabinet is attached the wall, make the cuts from the top of the cabinet. When done, place the previous cabinet top on the altered cabinet. This makes it easier to hide the newly revealed wall with a splash of paint.

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Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Square
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Sandpaper

About the Author

Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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