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Are you bugged by kitchen cabinets that don’t work quite right? Broken latches, loose door hinges, sticking drawers—are they driving you bonkers? Read on for easy fixes to these and other common cabinet problems.
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Sometimes, it's the little things that drive us crazy in the kitchen. The loose door knobs, nicked door fronts and slamming drawers. If any of these sound familiar, check out this collection of quick and easy kitchen cabinet repairs. You'll find simple solutions for many of the most common kitchen cabinet woes.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine
Euro hinges are
designed for easy adjustment.
If the door isn’t flush with the doors
next to it, adjust the depth screw.
This screw moves the door in or out.
Some depth screws move the door as
you turn them. But with most, you
have to loosen the screw, nudge the
door in or out and then tighten the
screw. If your hinges don’t have depth
screws, start with the side screws.
These move the door from side to side.
In some cases, you have to loosen the
depth screw slightly to adjust the side
If the door is flush and parallel with
other doors but too high or low, use
the mounting screws to raise or lower
the mounting plates. Loosen the
screws at both hinges, slide the door
up or down and tighten the screws.
Some mounting plates adjust by turning
a single screw. Check the fit of the door after each
adjustment. With double doors like
these, perfect the fit of one door first,
then align the other door.
Most newer cabinets have self-closing
hinges that hold the doors shut.
Others have magnetic or roller catches.
A catch that no longer keeps a door
closed is either broken or out of
adjustment. Catches are fastened with
two screws, so replacing a damaged
catch is simple. Adjustment is just as simple, but
you might have to readjust the catch a
couple of times before you get it right.
Loosen the screws, move the catch in
or out, and tighten the screws. If the
door doesn’t close tightly, try again.
Tired of listening to those cabinet
doors bang shut? Peel-and-stick door
and drawer bumpers are the
solution. Get a pack of 20 at a
home center for $2. Make sure
the back of the door is clean so
the bumpers will stick, then place
one at the top corner and another at
If you find that slides are bent, rollers
are broken or rollers won’t turn even
after lubricating, replacement is the
best solution. To keep the project simple,
buy new slides that are identical
(or almost identical) to the old ones.
That way, replacement is an easy matter
of unscrewing the old and screwing
on the new. Remove a drawer track
and a cabinet track and take them
shopping with you. You’ll find slides
at home centers for $5 to $15 per drawer.
A few minutes of cleaning and lubricating
can make drawer slides glide
almost like new. Start by removing the
drawers so you can inspect the slides.
You can remove most drawers by
pulling them all the way out, then
either lifting or lowering the front of
the drawer until the wheels come out
of the track. Wipe the tracks clean and
coat them with a light spray lubricant.
Also lubricate the rollers and make
sure they spin easily.
Don’t put up with a broken corner joint
on a drawer. Fix it before the whole
drawer comes apart. Remove the drawer
and then remove the drawer front from
the drawer box if possible. Most fronts
are fastened by a couple of screws inside
the box. Remove nails, staples or screws
from the loose joint and scrape away old
glue with a utility knife.
Predrill 1/16-in. holes for nails, apply wood glue to
the joint and nail it together with 1-1/2
in. finish nails. Wood glue will make a strong
repair if there’s wood-to-wood contact
at the joint. If the wood at the joint is
coated, use epoxy instead of wood glue.
Any handle or knob that comes loose
once is likely to come loose again. Put
a permanent stop to this problem
with a tiny drop of thread adhesive
like Thread Lok (about $3 at home
centers). Don’t worry; if you want to
replace your hardware sometime in
the future, the knobs will still come
off with a screwdriver.
If a screw turns but doesn’t tighten, the screw hole
is stripped. Here’s a quick remedy:
Remove the screw and hardware.
Dip toothpicks in glue, jam as many as
you can into the hole and break them
off. Either flat or round toothpicks will
work. Immediately wipe
away glue drips with a damp cloth. You
don’t have to wait for the glue to dry or
drill new screw holes; just go ahead
and reinstall the hardware by driving
screws right into the toothpicks.
Cabinets made from particleboard work great in utility and
laundry rooms, and they’re fairly inexpensive. But particleboard
has a major weakness—it doesn’t hold screw threads
very well. So if you swing the door open too fast, the force
can rip the hinge screw right out of the cabinet wall. Don’t
worry; the fix is easy and cheap. Here’s how to patch things
up. You’ll need a bottle of wood glue, a 1/2-in. drill bit and a
package of 1/2-in.-diameter hardwood plugs (sold at
Start by removing the hinge screws on the cabinet and
flipping the hinge out of your way. If the accident pulled out
a large chunk of the particleboard, glue it back into place
and let the glue set up before proceeding with the rest of
the repair. Drill out the stripped screw hole to accept the plug. Next, fill the hole with wood glue and install the plug. After the glue dries, drill a pilot hole and install the new screw—you’re all set.
If you have shallow scratches or nicks,
hide them with a stain-filled touch-up
marker. Dab on the stain and wipe off
the excess with a rag. But beware:
Scratches can absorb lots of stain and
turn darker than the surrounding finish.
So start with a marker that’s lighter
than your cabinet finish and then
switch to a darker shade if needed. For
deeper scratches, use a filler pencil,
which fills and colors the scratch.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
Share what's on your mind and see what other DIYers are thinking about.
September 23, 4:56 PM [GMT -5]
I used the second option to fix some loose cabinet doors my 2 year old ripped off. The small wood plugs were no longer available in my local big box store so the local carpentry store was my last resort. I was able to achieve the same results using a 1/2 spade bit to bore out the hole. Worked like a charm. Thank you TFHM.
September 19, 3:47 AM [GMT -5]
With multpile cabinets being connected and the fact all of them will probably fail eventually I would opt for the pull down. It's more work, but doing things right always is, it's just a matter of getting the homeowner to understand that. So yeah pull down, rebuild, use lots of glue (just don't make a mess), and use some 1/2 or 3/8 plywood triangle to stiffen it if you want, but if you glue the sides better it shouldn't be much of an issue.
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