How do I square a cabinet without corner clamps?


Old 01-07-08, 07:02 PM
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How do I square a cabinet without corner clamps?

I needed to resize an upper kitchen cabinet from one 64" width to 2 each 18" wide. I've disassembled, cut and am ready to re-assemble. Is there a trick to getting the box square without corner clamps? I know to measure diagonally to see that it's square but I don't know how to hold it in place when nailing it together.

Thanks for any suggestions
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Old 01-07-08, 07:17 PM
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Do you have any pipe clamps? Look at this site:

You can use these to apply pressure from the sides andthen check to make sure it is square.

Hope this helps and good luck.
Take care
Old 01-07-08, 07:19 PM
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I'm guessing you're having trouble holding everything together, and that you're trying to hand nail these pieces together? A couple 6" quickclamps and a framing square might help (clamp the framing square to each piece.) Arrange the pieces as if the cabinet is laying on it's back, and just put 2 pieces together like an L, nailing them together. Once you get a couple pieces together, the rest should be easy. One you have it all assembled, then you'll measure your diagonals and make sure it measures square. If it doesn't, just rack it a little bit.

If you have quickclamps, you could also make a simple corner jig out of a scrap of plywood or 2x8 (cut in the shape of a right triangle). Cut a couple of 2x2 notches into the hypotenuse of the triangle so that you can have something square to clamp against along each side.

Another assembly trick is to screw some guides to the bench as a jig. (such as if you're working on a makeshift plywood table) Screw some scraps onto the plywood in the shape of an L... then screw some more scraps onto the plywood that are 3/4" away from the first ones. You'd obviously want to use a framing square so that you're making a perfectly square jig. Your pieces will fit nicely into the 3/4 space, holding the bottom corner together while you work on nailing or clamping the top corner together.
Old 01-08-08, 04:42 AM
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I'm partial to band clamps like this; you can buy them just about anywhere:

I use two to hold things together and square.
Old 01-08-08, 02:32 PM
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But if you are buying anything, why not buy corner blocks you can clamp to the cabinet.
Old 01-09-08, 05:45 AM
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You can simply set the pieces approximately square and nail them together. When you apply the back, it will square the entire unit.
Old 01-09-08, 12:36 PM
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Chris, I believe you're partly right - putting the back on will square the cabinet vertically, but not horizontally. Even with the back on the cabinet could be diamond shaped when viewed from the top.

The suggestion to use bar clamps on the diagonal and apply corner blocks once the piece measures square is the way I normally go - this is done AFTER the back is applied.
Old 01-09-08, 06:19 PM
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I build cabinets for a living, and use Chris's method. If the back is square, then your cabinet will end up square, once the back is attached.

Trick is, when you attach the back - line up both of the sides either on the top, or bottom (really doesn't matter) to the top or bottom of the back piece. I've been using this method for 25 years and never had a problem.
Old 01-13-08, 06:08 AM
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Thank you all. I think I'll use the band clamps to hold it while I nail (can borrow some) and keep it as square as I can, but rely on attaching the back to really get it square. Being a beginner I thought the nailing had to be perfectly square and was concerned there were too many directions to get out-of-square for me to manage.
I'd simply buy corner squares but I don't know when I'd need them again so wanted to save the expense. I'm only doing this out of necessity. I tried to hire someone and everyone I spoke with didn't have time for such a small job.
Thanks again for everyones advice.
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