Scribing to walls on a built in wall-to-wall unit?

Henry W

Senior User
Building a 3 unit wall-to-wall bookshelf and with base cabinets - 11' across and 9' high. A few questions come to mind

1. How much side-to-side play do I need to allow for? Assuming perfectly plumb and straight walls, how much play would you allow?
If actual width is exactly 11', would you make these 3 units total 10' 11.5", allowing 1/2" play? 3/4" play? 1" play? I have not seen the state of the walls, I will check for plumb etc.

2. On upper units of bookshelves any scribing is done on a face frame stile. I presume the same is true on a cabinet with doors - outer stiles are kept wide and scribed to fit?.

3. With a full length painted top surface, how to do accommodate side-to-side variation in the top (counter height) of the base cabinet? A trim piece at the edge would look weird would it not? So I presume I need to cut to length on-site? Any advice on getting an appropriate fit?

4. Top-to-bottom fit is accommodated by the crown molding to be installed - 8" high in 2 pieces, so lots of room to operate in that dimension.

5. How exactly would you attach the top shelving units to the base cabinet?

All of this will be paint grade.



Senior User
If face frame, 2 end units against wall, make the faceframe about 1/2 in wider, install from center out, when you get to end units slide em in place against the other cabinet it will go against,check to see how much overlap the faceframe is,if 1/2 then take a 1/2 block just hold against wall and slide down with a pencil to scribe the frame.if less than 1/2 then of course get or make a block the thickness and scribe, LEAVE THE LINE!!!!!!!

Charles Lent

Corporate Member
1. Position and square the cabinet to the wall, getting it as close to the wall and touching the high spots as you can.
2. Find a flat washer that has a distance between it's hole and it's outer edge about equal to the largest gap between your wall and cabinet.
3. Place the washer on the top of the cabinet and against the wall.
4. Now place the point of a pencil in the hole of the washer and keep the pencil point as close to the wall as possible while rolling the washer along the wall. You will be drawing a line that perfectly matches the wall shape and will show the amount of material that will need to be trimmed away in order to match the wall shape.

I have owned many scribing tools in my woodworking years, but this method has worked better than any other method used.



For these cabinets I have a 3" filler next to each wall.



Filler is not part of each box but a "L" shaped piece attached to cabinet after box line up is attached to wall. Because the return part of "L" is 3/4" I only have 2 1/4" for adjustments. I don't "scribe" them but gauge distance from inside of cabinet to wall at top and bottom of cabinet box. These gauges are used mark filler and cut with track saw with 3 to 5 degrees of bevel. The only place you might have to fiddle with filler strip is where there is a drywall joint and this usually only occurs with cabinet boxes over 48".

I attach fillers to cabinet with 2 screws from inside of cabinet. I use Fastcap drill bit which drills a recessed counter sunk hole. Recessed is filled with a 1/2" veneer cap. I use the same technique for attaching of the boxes in a line up.

Cabinets in picture are not face frame but I do the same thing with face frames. I just make the wall side of face frame flush with box side. For face framed cabinets I have set filler face flush with door. When I do this I attach a small piece at top and bottom of filler with the same revile as door on face frame. Looks kinda like a little skinny door.

For me this technique makes for an easy install especially when filling in between two walls.

If you uppers are attached to wall then there is no need to it to base cabinets.

In this bathroom vanity I made the filler maybe 2".



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That's it. I usually make the "filer backing" 3" or so. I do that so I can clamp it for trimming with track saw. I use pocket screws to attach it to filler strip.


This is how I trimmed fillers. I had to this fixture so track would not slip.
A real Festool owner would just use 2 mft tables.

There are a series of holes to allow clamping of 24", 30", 36", 42", 72" and 92" fillers.


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