Replacing old medicine cabinet with a new one. Space is just shy of 14-1/4 inches wide between two wall studs. Medicine cabinet could use another 1/8" to fit inside.

I am contemplating sanding down the inside wall stud surfaces to get a bit more space. I am also interested in knowing if one stud can be cut out and "sistered" back in place? The wall is parallel to the ceiling joists. The hole is framed in on 3 sides, except the bottom because of an outlet.

Is there a framing solution to this quandary? Or should I just sand the studs?

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    Sand, chisel, saw -- whatever works. Studs will never notice 1/8" missing.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 0:20
  • What material is the cabinet? Specifically the sides and back. Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 19:06

5 Answers 5


1/8" total? That's 1/16" on each side. Sand it down and call it a day.

  • 1
    yeah, angle grinder with a 20 grit disk. 10 minutes,
    – Jasen
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 7:05
  • Five with a block plane. :-)
    – sleblanc
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 17:20
  • I think it becomes "what sander or other tool do I have on hand to do this now and save a trip to a big orange store." (Not that I mind such trips...or wouldn't if I didn't have to wear a mask.) Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 17:23

Spread the studs slightly by banging in place 2x4 blocks 14.5” long these will become the new top and bottom of the opening.

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    An eighth of an inch is well within 'persuasion'. Don't force it, get a BFH.
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 4:51
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    Unless the wall is already blocked, of course. Then you would need to open up the two adjacent bays also to remove the existing blocking first. Easier to chisel or sand in that case.
    – J...
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 11:42
  • @J... true. Usually a good framer will insure that center blocking maintains the 14.5 space between studs. But sometimes things run off layout a bit and blocks are cut to smaller or larger spaces
    – Kris
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 18:02
  • @Kris Indeed, but, of course, the people who build most houses are mostly not great framers...
    – J...
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 14:59

Sanding could work, but it a tedious job. Try this first: mark the top and bottom of the cabinet on either stud. with a saw or chisel cut a line on the inside face of the stud (top and bottom).

Using a chisel plow out the wood in between the two cut lines. It should chisel out quickly and not produce alot of dust.

  • Since it is the width of the space that is at issue, not the height, I assume you mean to draw a line down one side on a stud and chisel it out? What two cut lines are you referring to?Seems like that would create a very bumpy side stud (chiseling is not my forte). Could I chisel it out by making a series of small, parallel cuts beforehand on the side of the stud? Sounds like more work than sanding...
    – DAS
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 2:02
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    What you should do is remove an 1/8 inch of wood from a stud so as to allow the cabinet to install between them. Yes. making chisel cuts as you would when installing door hinges would help. But if you prefer sanding by all means...
    – ojait
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 2:33
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    @Hndygrl To create a clean slot for the cabinet you would start with a crosscut at the top and bottom of the cabinet space to break the grain cleanly and to mark the ends of the slot. Then you chisel into the face of the stud between those two marks. The cut lines stop the cleave from the chisel so you don't blow out a wild chip - it stops exactly where you want it to stop.
    – J...
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 11:47
  • This would be my preferred option. I think chiseling is much easier than sanding and a lot less messy. And you can easily take a bit more off each stud to give better clearance, without taking any additional time.
    – Dan A.
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 18:54

A viable alternative is to consider returning the cabinet, and buying a narrower one instead.

Or slightly modifying the new cabinet by shortening the top/bottom plates and any back panel so it fits the available space, and the 1/8" overhang becomes part of the opening (ie you don't have to faff around with hinges) This presumes its wood or similar, and not a blow-moulded plastic part.

  • Would the downvoter like to offer constructive criticism to improve the Q and A ?
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 9:13

Considerations: Using power tools will shake up the wall a bit and sometimes cause the drywall nails to appear or cracks and things so you end up refinishing and repainting. So prepare for that. You could use an orbital jigsaw and trim out what you need on each side so it's a nice easy fit without spreading the studs which might cause nail pops over time up and down them. Or, if you are careful, a cut with a worm drive skillsaw starting with a plunge cut on each side but don't cut yourself doing this if you are not a tradesman. Sanding would take forever. If you don't mind exposing studs and what you need and are skillful at drywall repair and wood work, then you could just frame it as you need. *** How much depth do you need?

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    Don't cut yourself doing this, even if you are a tradesman. Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 18:18
  • I didn't know people were still replying to my post! TY! The sides of the medicine cabinet are plastic. This is a remodel, not new construction and the space is framed in on all four sides so adding longer 2x4s to widen 40 year old studs sounds interesting in theory. It's an interior, non-load bearing wall, fwiw. The back is drywall and interior is 3.5". The cabinet is used and finding a 14" -wide one could prove tough. The back wall of the cabinet is also mirror, so forcing it in is dicey. The old cabinet was ruined when bug spray exploded and melted the interior paint!
    – DAS
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 18:45

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