GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Tips for Shortening a Cabinet

thegiz | Posted in General Questions on

Hope everyone is doing well, this isn’t really a green building questions, but you guys have helped me in the past with basic wood working skills. I need a new fridge but my old kitchen has odd dimensions and of course I need to cut off a 1/4 of an inch off the bottom of my cabinet to fit a standard size fridge. Seen guys on YouTube use a orbital saw and cut bottom off. Not sure if I need to buy this tool or I could somehow just sand it down with my orbital sander or buy a hand plane that could fit in a tight spot. Pictures attached

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. Expert Member


    It should only take about five minutes to take that cabinet down and remove the door and shelves. Then your options increase. You can plane it, use a router, or track saw. Any of those plus the sanding and re-finishing all can be done in your garage or back yard avoiding the mess and awkwardness of working on it in place in the kitchen.

  2. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #2

    It's easier to do if you can take the cabinet down as Malcolm mentioned, but you can do the work in place if you have to. I used a mini-size (~5" or so blade) circular saw to do something like this once, along with some metal stock clamped up as a guide. Use of a guide is important to get a straight, clean edge. You could use a full size circular saw too, but it will be harder to maneuver in a tight space.

    Be careful at the ends of your cut if you're using a circularl saw since you'll overshoot your cut line a little with the curve of the blade if you cut all the way through. What I've done before is to only bring the top of the cut to the stop mark, then finish off the last little bit of cut with a jigsaw so that I end up with square end to my cut line. This way you make most of the cut with the circular saw, which is fast and cuts straight and clean, but you can still make a square end with the jig saw. Circular saws can't cut a square edge if you stop before going all the way through the piece due to the arc-shape cut the circular saw blade makes.


    1. MaineLaxRef | | #3

      A small Japanese saw is another way to finish off a circular saw cut. Very precise and excellent cut quality.

  3. walta100 | | #4

    Before you start cutting post a few photos of the bottom of the cabinet. Generally there is enough extra left to trim a ¼ inch but not ¾ of an inch.

    Getting a straight cut with the cabinet in place will be difficult at best.

    You may want to remove the cabinet trim the top and reinstall to avoid weakling the cabinet the one over my fridge is full of liquor bottles and needs all it strength.


  4. thegiz | | #5

    Thanks for all the advice. I convinced my wife to get a different fridge that is slightly shorter. I have not ordered fridge yet but instructions say fridge is 69 3/8 from bottom to top. I took measurements I have a lot of areas under cabinet that are 69 1/2 some spots 69 3/8 and some a line under. My lowest spot is in back left corner at 69 1/4. It’s an old house so not surprised everything is crooked. It’s also old and fragile so taking it off could damage the trim. I only see 2 screws (in picture) that I think is holding everything up. I’m thinking move fridge out and use my orbital sander underneath or even sand block and take my time to get the low spots under 69 3/8. Not sure if I need some touch up paint to get underneath or new fridge will hide it. I could take off a door and ask paint store to match color. Any reason to not do this and just cut more off? It would be a snug fit, not sure if the instructions say one thing then when it comes in it will not fit. I def want a Japanese saw I think that would be great for a lot of projects. Do I start with a low grit sand paper and then finish off with like a 220? Or I guess I may need to cut the whole bottom.

    1. charlie_sullivan | | #7

      Of all the possible ways of removing some material, sanding would be my last choice, because it generates lots of dust. If it's a small area that you need to remove only 1/8th of an inch, in the back where it's not visible, I'd use a block plane or chisel.

      I don't think you'll need new stain, as I do think the fridge will hide it. Matching color on stain is harder than paint, but if you took the door to a good paint store they could help you get a reasonable starting point. If you wanted a really good match, you'd need to experiment with staining a few hidden spots to get it right, before doing it where it will be visible.

      1. thegiz | | #11

        Thanks for suggestion, yeah it will create a ton of dust. I’m going to try getting a small hand planer as you said. I have a chisel but I will use that in the back if I need to because it is more rough I think than a hand plane. I will plane most of it off and light sanding if necessary. Hopefully fridge just hides bottom don’t want to have to worry about matching a stain

  5. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #6

    Fridges usually have adjusting legs with about 3/4" of adjustment. I'd be curious to know if that dimension is with the legs up or down.

  6. user-1112691920 | | #8

    While all of the suggestions here have been terrific, I always love reading the comments, don't many refrigerators also required a gap at the top to allow heat to escape? My new LG unit required a 2" gap at the top. So trying to squeeze in the refrigerator may result in poor performance or an early death.

  7. walta100 | | #9

    "Jeremy Puzycki | Apr 13, 2021 09:18am | #8
    While all of the suggestions here have been terrific, I always love reading the comments, don't many refrigerators also required a gap at the top to allow heat to escape? My new LG unit required a 2" gap at the top. So trying to squeeze in the refrigerator may result in poor performance or an early death."

  8. thegiz | | #10

    Yes I see that some models require a clearance of 1 inch on top. This particular model says just to have clearance in front and back for air flow (picture attached) Maybe it is designed differently. The only part of cabinet that is snug is the trim around the bottom of cabinet so not sure if that makes a difference. The middle underneath the cabinet has more than an inch clearance and the cabinet also does not go all the way to the wall. I can’t measure it because I’m not home but there has to be more than a foot of space behind cabinet, it’s not against the wall.

  9. thegiz | | #12

    Thanks for the help, I got the fridge in. Had to use a combination of a planer, great tool I never used before, a small oscillation saw and electric sander. Home Depot delivery sucks btw they wouldn’t lift it up my deck stairs because they didn’t want to liable for damage so they left me alone with a 500lb fridge. I had to rip off the framing to my kitchen to get it in from my front door but it’s in now.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |