Are floating workshop cabinets a good idea?

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Forum topic by yootis posted 01-19-2020 03:23 PM 1356 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 33 days

01-19-2020 03:23 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cabinets workshop garage floating

I’m planning on building plywood workshop cabinets along the long wall of my garage. Sort of like lower kitchen cabinets with a work space on top. I’ll integrate my miter saw, dust collection, and other stuff.

My big question is this—is it a bad idea to make them “floating”, i.e. attach them only to the wall, not touching the floor. My thinking is that leaving them floating will allow me to store long lumber and other items under them. The floor itself isn’t flat anyway, so this will also make leveling easier.

Thoughts? Will this not be strong enough? Is there some other reason it’s a bad idea?


27 replies so far

View JackDuren's profile


752 posts in 1594 days

#1 posted 01-19-2020 03:29 PM

It would be good for cleaning the floor. Other than that I don’t see the gain…

View BurlyBob's profile


7062 posts in 2900 days

#2 posted 01-19-2020 04:22 PM

I used a french cleat on my hanging cabinets for all the reasons your asking about. They work great and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. One thing I did was use plexi glass in the doors. Boy, am i ever glad i did. It sure saves time looking for things. I’ve got them posted in my projects.

View Lazyman's profile


4649 posts in 2022 days

#3 posted 01-19-2020 04:24 PM

How deep will they be? If they are the depth of standard bottom cabinets (mine are about 25” deep, including the countertop), that will require some really good attachments to the studs to support the weight of the cabinet, contents and what you have on the top. It might limit the use of the counter top as a workbench as well. For storage lumber underneath, I think that I would just design the base so that I could slide lumber underneath it somehow.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View xeddog's profile


276 posts in 3642 days

#4 posted 01-19-2020 04:44 PM

It won’t be just the cabinets and the contents. All the equipment you put on the top will add significant weight. I used a french cleat on the upper cabinets in my garage shop, but I don’t think I would do that with lower cabinets.


View Mosquito's profile


10063 posts in 2927 days

#5 posted 01-19-2020 04:52 PM

I would personally skip the floating lowers in almost any circumstance, especially in a shop. If you want to store stuff underneath it, then maybe build them with a bottom shelf all the way through or something. Almost everything in my shop is on wheels, so I have a little space undernearth with that, and I can move them wherever/whenever I want. One of my concerns was moisture from the ground as well, which the wheels eliminate too

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5539 posts in 2944 days

#6 posted 01-19-2020 05:24 PM

Each to their own. I wouldn’t want to get down on all fours to get to lumber (even if I could :)”. It’s hard enough to dig through lumber racks as it is. As far a cleaning under them it seems it’d be pretty tough to do if you store stuff under them. If the cabinets sit on the floor like normal you’d never have to clean under them. So I don’t think is a good idea … least for me.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View dwl's profile


9 posts in 3258 days

#7 posted 01-19-2020 05:44 PM

Completely agree with AlaskaGuy.
It has been my experience that any space like that will collect dust and other debris.
I would just have dirty lumber to deal with in that situation.

Like has been mentioned, I have French cleats across the wall for uppers, and considered the same for lowers, but ended up with lower cabinets on casters.

Like you, my floor is not level and has waves and such as well.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

View SMP's profile


1765 posts in 540 days

#8 posted 01-19-2020 06:29 PM

I’ve done some floating cabinets in garages. Only AFTER a set of particle board (purchased at BORG) cabinets got completely destroyed when the washing machine pipe burst and flooded the garage. I’ve had neighbors that had the same thing happen when the water heater inevitably explodes at some point. It also makes mopping easier. Also for storing heavy rarely used items like floor jacks etc.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


2426 posts in 2129 days

#9 posted 01-19-2020 07:34 PM

+1 floating wall cabinets is ‘normal’.

+1 Base cabinets on casters.
- Suggest 4” caster. Anything smaller means they won’t roll well outside the perfect garage floor.
- Allows easier ‘spring’ cleaning.
- Especially useful if water heater/washing machine is located in same space and you get a leak.
- Can move the cabinets around as your needs change.
- Can move the loaded cabinets into storage with your tools when you get a divorce.


-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View Madmark2's profile


833 posts in 1223 days

#10 posted 01-19-2020 07:45 PM

Normally you design a carcass to support a compression load. A tension structure has to be different. You need wood interlocking to hold a tension load. An edge glue line under hanging tension is going to fail sooner or later.

Myself I like the idea of a French cleat and being able to shift the cabs around at will.

I put a 2×4 frame under the cabs as a toe kick. This frame can span multiple cabinets and yet still be shimmed and leveled as a unit. This allows the cabs to be shifted around easily while supporting a heavy compression load. Since I don’t tie the frame down the whole thing can be easily moved without damaging the wall.

These base cabs are on a 2×4 subbase and movable

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View therealSteveN's profile


4881 posts in 1209 days

#11 posted 01-19-2020 07:50 PM

The floor itself isn t flat anyway

- yootis

For me this point would make a wall hung cabinet a quicker, faster, way to get it done. If having them off the ground, and the few issues people brought up about having this, aren’t a deal breaker, go for it.

Your shop, your rules…....

You might start a rage…..

-- Think safe, be safe

View MrRon's profile


5828 posts in 3878 days

#12 posted 01-19-2020 07:55 PM

As long as they are well attached to the studs, that will work. Don’t use french cleats. Attach a long 2×4 to the wall studs below where the cabinet is to be. That will provide more support for the cabinet.

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574 posts in 361 days

#13 posted 01-19-2020 08:20 PM

Don t use french cleats.
- MrRon


View tblank's profile


81 posts in 3604 days

#14 posted 01-19-2020 09:35 PM

My two cents: When I build cabinets for kitchens or workshops, I always make a base to make it easy to level. Then set the cases on them. This allows for the variable size of the toe kick and opens the options for drawers for seldom used items. In kitchens it is a great place for a heat register. In a workshop, a six inch kick is the perfect place (for me) for a dust recovery vent. It makes sweeping up soo much easier. Sweep to the grill and turn on the vacuum system. Works great. I’ve even done that inside in kitchens with whole house integral vac. systems.

View JackDuren's profile


752 posts in 1594 days

#15 posted 01-19-2020 09:50 PM

Screwing a cabinet to the wall or a cleat offers the same holes. You do damage the wall…. If you want to change configurations simple dont screw them to the wall..

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