How Do I Cut Cabinets to Build a Microwave Shelf

Kitchen re-design is the most expensive cost in home improvement. With the varying cost of cabinets the price of an individual kitchen design will vary greatly depending on the choice of cabinets. Most kitchen re-designs can be done by re-surfacing the existing cabinets. Adding a built-in microwave shelf is a very popular option in kitchens, although you can still re-use your same cabinets to accommodate this style. This task does require a small amount of wood cutting which requires a minimal amount of working skills.

Tape measure
Pencil
Squaring tool
Jig saw
½ inch sanded plywood
Wood stain or paint
Four “L” brackets
Screw driver
Screws or nails
Hammer or drill
Wood putty
Utility knife
1-by-4 lumber
Hand saw
Miter box saw

  1. Measure the height, depth and width of the microwave that you will be using. Add a half an inch to the depth and width measurement. Add one inch to the height.
  2. Measure and mark the cabinet where the microwave will go. Find the cabinet that best fit’s the depth and length of the microwave you are installing. If you are going to be leaving the cabinet doors in place the depth is important to ensure that the doors will close after installation. Look for a cabinet that has two doors. Do not use a single door cabinet. The microwave will most likely not fit in a single cabinet, and if it does there is no cutting required.
  3. Remove the shelves that are needed to be moved. Some shelves are built into the cabinet while others are made to be adjustable.
  4. Trace a squaring tool to mark a straight line where the cabinet will need to be cut. The center support will need to be cut so the microwave will fit.
  5. Cut the center wood support in the cabinet with a jig saw. You may need to remove the cabinet doors, for better maneuverability. Remove the hinges by removing the screws with a screwdriver.
  6. Measure and cut a piece of ½ inch sanded plywood to measure the inside area of the cabinet. 
  7. Stain the plywood to match the cabinets.
  8. Attach four “L” brackets to the bottom of the stained plywood with the provided screws.
  9. Flip the plywood over and place it into the cabinet. Attach the other ends of the “L” brackets to the sides of the cabinet. The screws may go through the other side of the cabinet, if so cut the screw flush with the opposite side of the cabinet. Apply wood putty over the cut screw. Allow the putty to dry before sanding and staining or painting.
  10. Nail or screw the plywood into the support board in the center.
  11. Locate the closest outlet for the microwave to plug in to.
  12. Cut a hole in the bottom of the cabinet large enough to slide the plug of the microwave through. The hole may be tricky to cut with a saw, a utility knife will work best. Cut the hole as close to the wall as possible.
  13. Set the microwave into the cabinet and replace the cabinet doors.

Open cabinet

  1. Measure the edges of the front of the cabinet.
  2. Measure and cut 1-by-4 lumber to fit across all four corners of the cabinet.
  3. Miter each end of the boards to measure at a 45 degree angle.
  4. Attach all of the boards to the face of the cabinet with finishing nails.
  5. Fill the nail holes with wood putty, sand and paint to match the cabinet.
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