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Where to start?

Posted by joeabbott on February 28, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve been online and, to be honest, it’s because the last time I was sitting here at my desk I looked up and noticed one of my hanging cabinets appeared to be slumping a bit. It was.

A few years back, Suzanne and I were trying to figure out our room layout. A few things have swapped but we’ve always wanted an “office” … someplace for our computers. She’s a Mac and, yup, I’m a PC. I used to be a Mac guy but switched over a while back and it’s been long enough that some of the Mac behaviors actually drive me batty. But, let’s not start that flame war here, please.

In our office we hung four cabinets, compliments IKEA. At the time we thought they were pretty expensive but I’m sure they were rather … economical. Still, they look fine and have held up well. I attached them to the wall above each of our work spaces: two on her side, two on mine. All was well until the slumping.

I pushed on the cabinet and it gave. I called Suz over to give me her assessment and she confirmed: something ain’t quite right with that setup. So I cleared the cabinet shelves to my desktop, grabbed a cordless driver and yanked the two screws attaching it to the wall. And there it was, a mouse-sized piece of sheetrock pulled clear of the sheet. Wow. And “bummer”.


So I called it a day. This little problem came about the time we were having people look into a sink hole on the property, had some guys in the garage patching a hole that was letting in rain, and I had a garage full of coop and raised bed parts. Something else going wrong and needing attention was too much. I put the cabinet to the side and said, “I’ll deal with this when the coop is done.”

Unfortunately, that had kept me from getting onto my computer and, hence, a near absence from the Internet. Sometimes quiet is good.

But, last weekend I realized that I needed to address the problem and so I got to it. I decided that rather than patch the wall and try again, I’d use a “cleat” system. Cleats work by attaching a horizontal strip to the wall that has a lip on it, attaching a similar strip to the cabinet so it will interlock with the strip on the wall, and then hanging it! You need a small “stand-off” strip on the lower edge of the cabinet but it’s pretty easy to create. I started sawing wood and got frustrated working in a very crowded garage and without a complete plan. I called it a day and left things sit a couple days.

Fast forward to having the coop built and chickens on the property! My spirits were strong enough to have another go at the cabinet.

I removed the second cabinet and measured out the wall studs. The boards I’d planed and cut the previous weekend would still work. I then cut a couple more, installed the wall cleat, mounted the mating cleat to the cabinet, added the stand-off strip to the lower edges, and hung the shelves. Nearly perfect.

Now, I will admit two errors that I called Suzanne in to “referee”. I was using her as my conscious: should I fix these “problems” or not? The first issue is the cleat to the larger\upper cabinet stands out from the side by about an inch and I should probably trim it flush or just inside the cabinet. The second problem is that the smaller\lower cabinet hangs about 3/8″ lower than the other cabinet and I should dink around to level these up. Suzanne came in, took a look, and told me to forget it and just load up the shelves.

I love that woman. I had been frustrated by this project for a while and it was nice to just call it “done” and live with the minor imperfections. That was a good day.


3 Responses to “Where to start?”

  1. Hotspringer said

    Cannot understand why you just did not use a stud finder and simply consider repositioning the drill holes in the cabinets with 4 to 5 inch bolts directly into the studs. I know with all the shelves and cabinets I have installed, I only allowed the closet shelves to utilize sheet rock anchors rather than finding the studs. Even if the drill holes in the cabinet are not symetically matched, they ordinarily are out of sight anyway and for the few seconds they
    may occasionally be seen you are saving having to redo the sheet rock anchors.
    I found that over time even the closet shelves are pulling out since we forget to not overload them with 200lbs on up in weight. Since most men can punch a hole or through a kid’s head through sheetrock, one can see how weak of a support
    mechanism it is, the studs really must be used.

  2. Hotspringer said

    Noticed on Flickr and reread your post that your current arrangement really is now is based on the studs. Great! I guess the only curiousity remaining is why
    you used the cleat boards rather than just creating new drill holes in the back of the cabinets directly connecting the studs. Just your uniqueness I guess.

  3. joeabbott said

    I come from a family that wasn’t always supportive of each other growing up but, since we’ve all become adults, we almost universally cheer each other on, wish the best on everyone, and celebrate the victories big and small. So it’s with a little getting used to that I share time with my wife’s family who are all quite smart and bring their critical thinking to every nuance in a conversation.

    And so it is with Mike, my brother-in-law and Suzy’s oldest brother. Hi, Mike! 🙂

    Let’s see … the answer could be quick and easy or I could draw it out in a long and tedious fashion. I think I’ll do that. Just as I’m quick to note other’s tendencies, mine is (perhaps regrettably) an abject lack of terse concision. See my post from today (3/7/2010) for the full answer.

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