How Do I Cut Cabinets to Build a Microwave Shelf?

When you want to add a microwave cabinet to your kitchen but discover you can purchase a 24-inch regular wall cabinet for less, build a microwave shelf from it. Creating a microwave shelf from a 24-by-30-inch wall cabinet requires a circular saw and a jigsaw if the cabinet has fixed shelving instead of adjustable. Be certain the bottom shelf of the 24-by-30-inch wall cabinet is securely fastened to the cabinet sides before proceeding to prevent possible injury.

Microwave cabinets blend the microwave oven into the cabinet decor.
  1. Place the 24-by-30-inch wall cabinet on a worktable and remove the door. Measure from the bottom of the cabinet and make a mark on the sides of the front at 18 inches. Place the tri square on the marks and draw lines across the cabinet front.
  2. Set the blade of a circular saw to 3/4-inch in depth and cut the lines. Tap the 18 inches of the front from the cabinet just cut with a hammer to remove it. Turn the cabinet on its side, measure up from the cut edge of the front that is still on the cabinet, and make a mark at 2 inches.
  3. Drill two holes in the center of the 3/4-inch edge of the front with the 3/16-inch drill bit. Make one hole 3/4 inch from the bottom of the front and the next hole at 1 1/2 inches. Repeat this on the other side of the cabinet.
  4. Put glue on the ends of the 2-by-20 1/2-by-3/4-inch lumber and secure it between the front sides through the pilot holes drilled with the drywall screws. Clean up the excess glue with a damp cloth.
  5. Remove the shelf that is second from the bottom of the cabinet. Most cabinets have adjustable shelving, so this won't be a problem. If the cabinet has fixed shelving, cut down the center of the shelf from the front to the back with a jigsaw. You won't make it all the way to the back edge of the shelf, so tap on it lightly with a hammer to work it loose.
  6. Secure the 22 1/2-by-15-by-3/4-inch plywood to the top of the bottom shelf with the wood screws. Install them from the bottom of the bottom shelf. Drill a 1 1/2-inch hole through one of the sides or bottom to gain access to the electrical outlet for the microwave.

Things You Will Need

  • 24-by-30-inch wall cabinet
  • Tri square
  • Circular saw
  • Hammer
  • Wood glue
  • 2-by-20 1/2-by-3/4-inch lumber (actual size), 1 piece
  • Variable speed drill
  • Philips head screw tip
  • 2 1/2-inch drywall screws, 4 pieces
  • Damp cloth
  • Jigsaw (if needed)
  • 22 1/2-by-15-by-3/4-inch plywood
  • 1-inch wood screws, 4 pieces


  • Cover the front edge of the new shelf with flat molding if desired.


  • Do not leave the circular saw within reach of small children.

About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.

Photo Credits

  • modern kitchen with cabinets image by redking from Fotolia.com