Just sit there and look pretty
Wall cabinets have a quiet and important job: Hold a lot of glassware and ceramics up in the air. Do not peel away from the wall and come crashing down on an unsuspecting adult, child, or house pet. Better yet, just don't come crashing down regardless of who or what is in the room. Just sit there and look pretty.
Anyone who has installed a new kitchen in a house with little kids running around cannot say they haven't thought about the kid jumping up onto the counter to look for their favorite Barney cup, tugged on the cabinet in the process and had the whole thing come crashing down on them. I mean, one of those screws felt a little soft going in — like it caught the stud, but then glanced off the corner. I will probably be OK, right?
Hello sleepless nights ...
Yes, you can mark the studs on the drywall and transfer the marks to the inside of the cabinet. AND, if the cabinet is more than 18 in. wide, you might get lucky enough to find two studs to fasten into — more likely, you'll get one stud to screw into. If the cabinet is a 12 in. cabinet, you may not get any.
Or you can make the job easier and the installation stronger with continuous solid blocking.
That's the route that MARK IV Builders chooses, as Jim Morales, one of their top carpenters describes in this video tip. Before drywall, MARK IV carpenters run continuous 2x6 blocking around the top of the wall and at the base cabinet height to provide solid backing wherever they need it. Forget about looking for studs.
Another way to do it is to notch the studs and let in continuous piece of lumber or plywood, often 3/4- inch thick.
Yet another way is with a French Cleat, which allows the cabinets to be easily removed and replaced.
—Jim Morales is a carpenter with MARK IV Builders in Cabin John. MD.