Ceiling Height Clearance – Pythagorean Theorem

Article - March 5, 2008

This week’s question comes from Brad. He writes: “I have to build a set of cabinets for an 8ft room. I have to build off site, so how do I determine the proper height of the cabinets so that I can stand them up in the room? Is there a formula or just a guessing game? The depth of the cabinets are 16″ and 24″. Can you help me?”

And here was my reply:
The key is to make sure that the diagonal measurement, from the front of the top, to the back of the bottom, does not exceed 8 feet. This way you can carry the piece into the house on its side, then lay it on its back. Then simply tip it upright. Not sure how much you remember from good old algebra and geometry class, but that stuff actually will come in handy here. Remember the Pythagorean Theorem? A (squared) + B (squared) = C (squared). A and B are the cabinet’s height and depth and C is the diagonal. You already have two pieces of the equation since you know the height and the depth. Just make sure you make the cabinet slightly smaller so that it fits within those numbers. Keep in mind this will get you close to the ceiling, but there will still be a gap. A good place for crown molding. Good luck!

**** I should mention that I am by no means an expert on built-ins and installation. My experience in this area is limited to about a dozen jobs. So I look forward to hearing other perspectives on this topic.