How to hang cabinets without backs?

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Forum topic by woodify posted 08-30-2013 02:40 AM 10498 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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349 posts in 3359 days

08-30-2013 02:40 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plywood cabinets

I’m looking at buying someone’s old kitchen cabinets (made of plywood). Most of the wall hanging cabinets have no backs on them. I’m wondering what the easiest way to hang them would be? It looked like the cabinets were built in place as there was quarter round nailed under each shelve along the wall. I didn’t think to look for any other types of supports while I was at the persons house.

Is screwing a board along the inside top and bottom through the panels sides enough to hold the cabinets? The cabinets will be re-purposed in my garage for tool and shop storage. The cabinets are 45.5” high and most are either 55” or 57” wide but one is 67” wide. All are 13” deep.

-- Woodify ~~

12 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)


11316 posts in 4935 days

#1 posted 08-30-2013 02:50 AM

Nail 1/4” backs on. Put a 3/4” x 5” nailer in the upper back
inside, screwing or nailing it in place.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17571 posts in 3906 days

#2 posted 08-30-2013 02:58 AM

+1 to what Loren said. Adding backs is a good idea.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View SteveKnnn's profile


66 posts in 3176 days

#3 posted 08-30-2013 03:21 AM

An alternative to the nailer would be a French cleat.

-- Steve in Richmond, VA

View UpstateNYdude's profile


966 posts in 3270 days

#4 posted 08-30-2013 03:49 AM

Steve stole my thunder, French cleats are awesome and super strong and you can move the cabinets where ever you want.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

View bannerpond1's profile


397 posts in 3186 days

#5 posted 08-30-2013 02:18 PM

Go with SteveKnnn’s and UpstateNYdude’s idea. A French cleat is the way to go. It makes hanging the cabinet so much easier.

-- --Dale Page

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3963 days

#6 posted 08-30-2013 03:12 PM

French cleat….bah.
so foo fooey and a pain in the butt. screw it flat to the wall like a man, thru a 1×3 cleat, top and bottom.
it’s a garage, not a museum…..snarc.

If you end up taking the fixed shelves out, you could remove those shelf cleats and make a jig to drill holes every inch for adjustable shelves…. nice feature.

I assume these cabinets are the right size and dirt cheap. You could end up spending the same amount of time trying to remove and modify them vs. just making new ones out of ac plywood and clr. 1×2 pine.

View firefighterontheside's profile


21521 posts in 3144 days

#7 posted 08-30-2013 03:41 PM

I agree with reedwood. I know the French cleats are nifty, but I would rather just slap the cabinets up and get on with other things. I also hate cabinets, bookcases pretty much anything without backs. Its hard to keep them square. So I say add the backs and nailers at the bottom and top and screw them to the wall. For hanging cabinets I prefer the screws that come with many cabinets when you buy them. They are 2.5 in. long, thicker than drywall screws and have a large washer head with a size 3 Phillips. The problem is I’ve never seen them for sale.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 4257 days

#8 posted 08-30-2013 07:11 PM

Flange corner brackets,

Cheap as chips.

View woodify's profile


349 posts in 3359 days

#9 posted 08-31-2013 10:52 PM

Thanks for the comments and ideas for hanging. I never thought about adding backs. I’m getting a kitchen full of cabinets for $200. Has the base cabinets, uppers, and counter top. I’m thinking a mitre station will replace the kitchen sink :)

The garage has been cleared just waiting for the person’s new cabinets to arrive and their old ones removed. It’s like waiting for christmas day. Hoping the cabinets come out intact, fingers crossed.

-- Woodify ~~

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 3333 days

#10 posted 09-01-2013 01:32 AM

My vote is also for adding a cleat to the back of the cabinets. I’ve done it for a few very inexpensive cabinets I bought so that I could screw them into the walls.

-- paxorion

View Bogeyguy's profile


548 posts in 3355 days

#11 posted 09-01-2013 01:54 AM

For sure you should add a back to keep the boxes square and add the hanging cleats, top and


-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3963 days

#12 posted 09-01-2013 01:40 PM

Sounds like a good deal! That’s how I got my shop cabinets. Thankfully, I didn’t have to pay for them but I did have to pay 350.00 for new c tops. The old ones were beat.

As a kitchen remodeler, I’m always looking for someone who needs good cabinets for their garage or basement. Can’t stand throwing them away. If they’re really decent, I’ll take them to Habitat for Humanity.

I find that a fine metal cutting sawsall blade works good to cut wall screws without shaking the cabinet to pieces.

Looking forward to seeing the final results, congratulations!

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