Asked on Nov 07, 2020

How to carefully dismantle built-in?

by Catherine

Hello All. I’m redesigning a built-in media cabinet in our living room. The piece will hopefully go from traditional, to more of a danish modern look. I need to bring (cut) the bottom cabinets up from the floor by approximately 4-3/4”, but I’m not sure that I can successfully cut them in place. Anyone know how I can gently dismantle to more easily (and accurately) make the cuts?

  15 answers
  • Most likely, they are screwed into the wall studs. Look in the back of the cabinets for screwheads. They will need to be removed to dismantle the wall of cabinets.

  • William William on Nov 07, 2020

    Best solution is to cut the tops and raise the cabinetry. Remove the crown molding on top. Look and remove for screws holding the cabinets to the wall and to each other. Then you can remove them. Cut the tops to your specs and reinstall. The center base cabinets are screwed to two side cabinets and possibly the wall. The side cabinets are screwed to the wall. The shelving above the TV can easily be removed. You will end up with two tall cabinets and the center base cabinets.

  • on Nov 07, 2020

    You'll likely be happiest with your cuts if you remove them. They'll be straight and clean. Look inside the cabinets - there is usually a strip along the back that they will be screwed to. Back the screws out and you're good to go!

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Nov 07, 2020

    Hello there,

    Take off and store away safely the TV etc. Remove all the doors to reduce weight. Take off all the trims that hold them together (If they were made in 3 pieces).and any fixings to the wall/ceiling etc. Lay face down on the floor each section or all if necessary. Check once you remove the plinth you are going to have enough legs to support the units, and that the bottom of the cabinets will be man enough to have legs fitted to them. Once you are sure all is well, measure and then cut the base off each unit. If there is any doubt the base will be strong enough, add another for strength. Fit legs, Stand up and re-fit doors etc. Hope all goes well for you.

  • Deb K Deb K on Nov 07, 2020

    Hi Catherine, definitely remove before trying any kind of cuts, this may give you a chance to rearrange they way they are sitting on a wall as well.

  • Mogie Mogie on Nov 07, 2020

    I know that I don't trust my own skills enough to think I can get as good of a cut without removing the unit.


    Draw a line horizontally across the measurement where you wish to cut the cabinet.


    Set a table saw if the doors are solid-slab. Remove the doors with a screwdriver. Cut the bottoms off the doors with the table saw. Sand and finish the edge with stain and lacquer to match the cabinets.


    Cut off raised or inset panel doors for another option. Cut and glue a 1/4-by-3/4-inch strip of oak lumber to the bottom to hold the door panel and the sides together. Sand and finish. This is an option if you cut more than half the door off. It imparts the look of a built-in oven. If you want panel doors to look original, order new ones from a cabinet shop.


    Set a circular saw blade to cut to a depth of 3/4 inch. Kneel on top of the cabinets. Hold the saw horizontally with both hands.


    Cut around the corner if the line extends across the side of the cabinet.


    Remove the next shelf up if you have to.


    Insert a coping saw blade into the cut line where the saw wouldn't fit. Finish cutting the bottom off the cabinet with the coping saw, working surgically to keep the cut clean and straight. When the bottom of the cabinet comes loose, grab it with both hands and remove it. There will be a piece of plywood on the back of the wall.


    Cut off the plywood with a chisel. Cabinet backs are only 1/4-inch-thick. Score a line with a utility knife. Chisel along the line until you can break the plywood off clean. Sand the edge to remove any splinters or chips.


    Sand any exposed end jambs, fresh cuts or bare wood that has been exposed. Use 100-grit sandpaper and a hand block to sand everything smooth. Stain the newly exposed areas with matching stain.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Nov 07, 2020

    Thank you for the great pictures! They are appreciated.

    You would have to unscrew the units from the wall and from their sides, also unscrew the doors of the cabinets.

    Cut off the crown molded 2 outside units, that will give you space to move them up-your 4 3/4".

    Move the center unit up what you need to. Boosting with a new wood frame.


  • Annie Annie on Nov 07, 2020

    The sections should be connected with screws. They will be hidden in corners, up and down and may have little white buttons hiding them, Screws will be holding sections together and to the wall. Remove them all and sections should come apart

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Nov 08, 2020

    Hello. Looking for the screws that mounts your cabinet tree to the wall might be the first thing to be on the lookout for. Sometimes they have covers sometimes if they’re inside cabinetry not so much.

  • Ken Erickson Ken Erickson on Nov 09, 2020

    It all depends on how they were constructed and assembled. Determine that and then be careful.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Nov 09, 2020

    if they are not real wood, it may be harder to do because laminate and non wood items tend to splinter and fall apart when cut - you could detach the screws and pull them out to cut them off and then reassemble

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Nov 10, 2020

    I'd see how they are attached to the wall - prob with screws - and try to remove that way.