Ceiling mounted cabinets need more structural support than cabinets that fit against a wall because wall cabinets can be secured directly to the wall. Thi is a great basic carpentry page if you want or are thinking about installing kitchen cabinets or any cabinets some where.

Step 1 Ensuring Adequate Support For
Ceiling Mounted Cabinets 

When building the structure that will hold the cabinets from above, keep in mind that the structure is similar to a chain: the structure is only as strong as the weakest connection. What are the connections here? The cabinets them­selves are secured to the fur down area (also called a -soffit- or "dropped ceiling-). This is a typical way to handle the space above wall cabinets in where it is too high for comfortable usage. The soffit area is built of 2x4s at 16 inches on center like a stud wall. Unlike a stud wall, this soffit or fur down uses cross braces (1x4s) between each pair of vertical 2x4s. The next major com­ponent is the blocking. It is the same depth as the joists: ultimately. the joists hold the weight of the cabinets and all the required supports.

Now back to the "chain" aspect of this structure. Note that metal straps are used to secure the 2x4 soffit. In turn, blocking members should be se­cured to the joists with joist hangers. The cabinets hang on the soffit. the soffit hangs on the blocking members. and the blocking members hang on the joists. The cabinets should be bolted (not nailed or screwed) to the soffit.

Step 1: Opening a Sheetrock Ceiling Remove the sheetrock where the cabi­nets will fit at the ceiling (and wall. if they touch the wall). Sheetrock is easy enough to remove, but messy. It helps to mark the outline of the sheetrock to be removed. Then chisel through the

sheetrock along the drawn line. Re­move the sheetrock with a hammer and/or crowbar.

Variation. Step 1, for Plaster Ceiling If your ceiling is a plaster one. cut the ceiling with a special rotary blade in your power saw. or a reciprocating saw such as the Milwaukee Saws-All. Be prepared for a lot of debris: spread a protective cloth first.

Before cutting, locate the ceiling joists. Cut along the insides of the joists, do not cut any joists. When the opening between the joists has been made. you will be able to add the blocking.

Simpler alternative. Some people will prefer not to open up a plaster ceil­ing at all. In this case. blocking can be added between the joists if you have access to the joists from above. This is not the preferred method. Although the plaster that has been left in place will be hidden. it could crack if a lot of pres­sure is put on it.

    Step 2: Nailing the Blocking For
Ceiling Mounted Cabinets 

Install the blocking between the joists. using joist hangers. The blocking members should be the same depth as the joists and should be spaced 16 inches on center. or less.

Step 3: Building The Soffit For
Ceiling Mounted Cabinets 

Build the soffit just as you would a short stud wall. You can use nails (10d-4 per joint) to secure the studs at first. Then reinforce with metal straps. The metal straps should be at­tached at all the joints, as shown. Where possible. at least three strap holes should connect the two mem­bers in question. Use 1/4-inch diameter. 11/4-inch flathead wood screws  for ceiling mounted cabinets.

Step 4: Adding Cross Bracing For Ceiling Mounted Cabinets 

Nail the 1x4 cross bracing at every 2x4. with 8d nails (about three at each end of each piece of bracing) for the ceiling mounted cabinets

Step 5: Building The Cabinets 

Once you have completed the soffit, you can hang the cabinets. All of these cabinets — wall, ceiling-suspended, or base — are modular "boxes-. in terms of building them. Note the typical cabi­net module for theceiling-suspended

cabinets shown here. The outside end of ceiling cabinets are typically lined up over the edge of the base cabinet be­low. If you do not have an even number of modules. and you probably will not. then you usually want to place the ex­tra space next to the wall.

In our example. the odd space is used for extra shelves. The doors are not shown on the illustration, so that you can see the shelf arrangement. You could use flush doors. lip doors. or lapping doors with these cabinets. Also. instead of using the odd space adjacent to the wall for shelves (some people leave them open). it could have been covered with sheetrock like the furred down area over the cabinet: most people. however, need to use space more efficiently — not just cover it up.

Materials and assembly. The ex­posed side of the cabinet calls for 3/4- inch plywood and the side that joins the extra space calls for 3/8-inch plywood. The shelves and bottom of the cabinet are 1/2-inch plywood, fitted into dado joints (slots) 1/4-inch deep. They reach all around the sides and back of the cabinet.

Around the sides and back of the cabinet, under the bottom. there is a 1-inch by 1/2-inch ledger for extra sup­port of the bottom shelf. This ledger is secured to the sides with 1 -inch by 1/2-inch diameter flathead wood screws at 4 inches on center. all around. A screw also is placed no more than 1 inch from all corners.

Build the cabinet in two phases: the typical module. and the odd-sized ex­tra next to the wall. Secure the odd- sized cabinet to the ceiling first. then to the wall. Next. butt the typical module against the odd cabinet, securing the typical module at the ceiling, then at the side. Use 1-inch x 1/8-inch bolts at 8 inches on center. all around the in­side edges of the cabinets. This will pull the cabinet sections tightly to­gether. (Follow these same butted- attachment steps for base cabinets also.)


Step 6: Fastening The Cabinets 

cabinet is secured to the soffit with 1/4-inch bolts that run through a 2x2 ledger around the inside of the cabinet, at the top. The 2x2 is connected to the cabinet sides and back with 21/2-inch by 1/4-inch bolts approximately an inch from the top edge of the cabinet. These bolts may be hidden with wood mold­ing later. The 2x2 is connected to the 2x4 supports within the furred down ceiling with 4-inch by 1/4-inch bolts that run through the bottom 2x4. These bolts. and the horizontal ones above. are spaced 8 inches on center all around and should be staggered so that they do not hit each other. Do not fail to add bolts at approximately 4 inches from all corners.

At the wall, the cabinet may be se­cured with 1/2-inch toggle bolts or 2- inch, 1/2-inch diameter flathead wood screws. or similar lag bolts. or similar- sized nails (nails are the least favored). Secure the cabinet to the wall with one of the above fasteners at approximate­ly 8 inches on center. all around the inside edge of the counter. if possible. The important thing is to hit wall studs or other solid backing. Thanks for reading this page on ceiling mounted cabinets. For more basic carpentry tips continue to visit this website.