Full Height Cabinets: Figuring Ceiling Clearance

Figure the diagonal using math, or draw the piece full size, or check it in AutoCAD. Do this before you build it. January 26, 2008

I have a 9' ceiling to deal with, and want to make sure the full height cabinet will stand up. The cabinet will be 27" deep, and I figured it at 103.5" tall. I placed these two marks on an X/Y axis, and measured the diagonal. It came to 107". This should leave me with 1" of play. The cabinet will then sit on a 4" ladder frame, leaving me with a 1/2" gap at the top that will be covered with crown. Is this right or am I missing something?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
106.9638", so close enough. You can do that with mathematics, you know. Take the square root of a+ b=c where a and b are the 90 parts of the triangle and c is the hypotenuse. [The square root of (a+ b) equals the square root of c]

From the original questioner:
Never was great at math. I just chalked it out on my shop floor to get the 107". As long as it works, I'm good with it. I'll try the formula way to get the number next time.

From contributor U:
Just measure the opposite corners (diagonal) on the side, and that's how much height the cabinet needs to stand up. No drawing necessary.

From contributor L:
You mean make the cabinet and then measure to see if it will fit?!

From contributor B:
Do it that way if you want to. I'll do the math first. If it works out, I'll build the cabinet. Finding out after the cabinet is built is no fun!

From contributor K:
If you don't want to do that math, just mark the dimensions on the bench and measure the angle...

From the original questioner:
I chalked it off on my shop floor. I figured out how to do it the math way too. I wouldn't want to find out the hard way though.

From contributor U:
Guys, I misread the post. I thought he had already built the cabinet. I was trying to figure out why he was doing the math when he could just measure the silly thing.

From contributor D:
Construction calculators make cabinet mathematics much easier. Purchase the best one you can afford; they come out with better ones all the time.

From contributor S:
You could always save some stress and do a detached toekick if the cabinet is not visible from the sides. If it is, a cheesy way to overcome this is to slap some scribe along the side where the toekick sits. Assuming it's a real recessed toekick. I've also resolved this by having my shop detach the toekick, then used a furniture toekick (like you would see around a desk) and surround the unit.

I've heard complaints about stability, which once you set your toekick base down, you can simply add a perimeter of 2x4's around the toekick base, then when you have the tall cabinet set pretty dead on, put one screw in. Refine, put in another, then another, until you have 3 on all sides. Permanently fix your toekick into the floor if that's not an issue, or into a stud just to hold it, then of course screw that tall cabinet in well into the wall.

I've done this often where the customer wanted a tall cabinet to the ceiling with no crown. Even on full overlay cabinetry, we held the top door down for a batten mold or scribe to finish off any ceiling variances. But because of the size of the molding and the stance of the cabinet, a variance of 1/2" of ceiling height will not work for this and you will see a dip in the molding making the cabinet itself look off, instead of the shoddy work of the home builder, or the house simply settling over years, which is common.

From contributor N:
Chalking it out in full scale on your shop floor will always tell the truth if you don't trust your math.

From contributor I:
Contributor L is correct: 106.9638"

I just draw a quick box in AutoCAD and measure. Takes 5 seconds and 100% accurate. I'm not great with math either.