How to Install Cabinet Light Rail Molding

So you want to know how to install your own kitchen under cabinet light rail molding. Do not attempt the installation unless you possess some basic carpentry skills. You will also need a few power and hand tools. Do not attempt this phase of your kitchen cabinet installation without having sufficient time. NO hand miter box cutting allowed! You must achieve the highest quality install possible.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Chop Saw
  • Electric Drill
  • Three Clamps (I prefer Jorgensen Clamps)
  • Correct Length Screws
  • Countersink Bit
  • 1/16″ Pilot Hole Drill Bit
  • 3/16″ Drill Bit
  • Hand Screw-driver
  • Yellow Carpenters Glue
  • Matching Wood Putty Stick

One of the most popular questions people ask is; “should the molding be installed flush or recessed with the face of the cupboard?” I always recess the light rail no less than one eight (1/8″) of an inch. This just looks better than trying to get it perfectly flush with the face-frame. Keep in mind that the light rail should be flush with the end of the cabinet next to where a space-saver microwave gets installed.

Roughly measure the length of each piece of molding you will need and add four inches to each piece. Hopefully you thought to order plenty of extra in case you make a mistake. Cut all of the pieces you need over size first.

Now cut a few “small” practice miter pieces at forty five degrees. These should be used to double check that your corners on the cupboards are at true ninety degree angles.

Now, when you start cutting the actual molding pieces of light rail, only cut the angles on one piece at a time. The key to installing the molding correctly is in working out the accurate details one piece at a time and one miter joint at a time.

Prior to making your cuts, drill holes from the inside of the cupboard downward using the three sixteenths inch (3/16″) drill bit. Then, counter sink the holes from inside the cupboards. These are the holes that will secure the molding to the cabinetry.

The finished end pieces of molding will be attached to the cabinets with ¾” x 1″ X 8-1/2″ blocks. The blocks get fastened to the short return pieces of molding and then screwed to the cupboard from underneath. The reason for doing it this way is because you cannot fasten them from the inside of the cabinet.

Installing Kitchen Cabinet Light Rail:

  1. Decide which piece is best to install first (consider working largest to smallest)
  2. Make your cuts
  3. Apply yellow glue sparingly to the miter joints
  4. Clamp the piece in place using the Jorgensen clamps
  5. Drill the light rail through the counter sunk holes using the 1/16″ drill bit
  6. Secure the molding in place with screws
  7. Wipe off the access glue immediately with a damp cloth
  8. Repeat these steps on each light rail piece

The three sixteenths inch hole you drilled should be bigger than the screws you are installing the molding with. If you need to adjust the molding a little, loosen the screws with a hand screw-driver. Align the light rail accordingly and then secure it tightly into perfect position.

If you begin to get frustrated, take a break. This is tedious work. The joints on the kitchen cabinet light rail should be as tight as possible.

The final step of the installation process is filling the miter joints with the matching wood putty. Wipe off any excess putty with a dry rag.