How to Repair Cabinets


Your cabinet doors sag, the veneer is peeling and the finish is scratched. Rather than replace your cabinets or insist that your guests never set foot in the kitchen, make the repairs yourself. Most cabinet repairs are fairly simple requiring only basic tools and materials available at your local hardware store. Start with a thorough assessment of problem areas and a list of materials you will need from the hardware store.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Toothpick or matchstick
  • Wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • Drill
  • Furniture polish
  • Soft rag
  • Wood filler crayon
  • Sand paper
  • Wood glue
  • Syringe
  • Masking tape
  • Utility knife
  • Scrap board
  • C clamp

Tightening Hardware

  • Check all hinges and handles to make sure they are snug. Loose screws are the major cause of most problems in these two areas. Use a screwdriver to tighten them, rather than a drill, to avoid over tightening the screws.

  • Fix screws that will not tighten by replacing them with a slightly longer screw of the same type. Take the original screw with you to the hardware store for comparison.

  • Repair holes by breaking off a toothpick, or matchstick in the hole. Break it flush with the face of the cabinet and replace the screw. Severely wallowed holes can be filled with wood filler or auto body putty.

  • Use a soft plastic pallet knife to smooth the putty into the hole, allow it to dry thoroughly then sand with fine grit sandpaper. Drill a new pilot hole in the original location with a bit a little smaller in diameter than your screw and reinstall the screw.

  • Adjust European, or cup style hinges by loosening the adjustment screws, making the adjustment and re-tightening. One is located on the moving part of the hinge between cabinet and door. Use it to adjust sagging doors. The other is on the inside part of the hinge attached to the cabinet wall. Use it to adjust doors that do not close fully.

Surface Repairs

  • Repair light scratches in the finish with colored furniture polish, such as Old English. Apply polish with a soft, clean rag.

  • Fix heavier scratches with a colored wood filler crayon. Choose the color closest to your cabinets and rub the putty into the scratch. Deeper dings may require more than one application, let the putty dry between coats. Buff with a soft clean cloth.

  • Fill larger dents and dings with bondo auto-body filler for painted cabinets, or wood filler for stained. Allow to dry then sand with a fine-grit sandpaper. Apply a matching all in one stain and finish product to finish the repair. Use matching paint to touch up painted cabinets.

  • Fix split or peeling veneer with wood glue, a syringe and masking tape. Apply a small amount of glue under the damaged veneer using a syringe. Press the veneer into place and use a piece of masking tape to hold it down until it is completely dry.

  • Slice blisters, or bubbles in cabinet veneer open with a utility knife and use the syringe to inject glue beneath the blister. Place wax paper over the repair and clamp a board on top to hold the veneer until dry.

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