Got some new cabinets to install? If you've never done it before, it can be tempting to throw them all into position and just start nailing these things down.

That little voice in the back of your head telling you that would just end up causing waste and delays and other unnecessary burdens? Listen to that voice. This is going to be more complicated than most home improvement projects you're used to, because this actually has to look good AND be functional. Here are a few things you need to remember before you go slapping a new kitchen together.

You'll be measuring way more than you're used to. "What's the matter?" you say. "I already measured before I bought the cabinets." Now, you may have measured the space into which the cabinets would be installed, but these cabinets need to be level independently of your floors and walls. If you don't already have a level and a chalk line, now is a good time to call a professional to handle this job. If you're still headstrong about it, then go get those things before you even take the wrapper off of your cabinets, and don't forget to pick up a generous pile of shims.

Measure from the highest point in your floor to the top of the bottom cabinets, then measure to where the bottom of your top cabinets will be. Now that you know where these lines are, use your level to draw two dots along that height, then pass your chalk line across those two dots and snap a line. When you move your cabinets into place, you'll have a perfectly straight, level and erasable height marker. You'll want to shim the bottoms of your cabinets till the top hits that line.

It's also important to remember to shim any bows in the wall. You might think you have straight walls, but this is very unlikely. Just slide a straight edge along your wall and you'll start to notice any dips. Slide some shims into the space between your straight edge and wall and tape them down. Now when you're installing your cabinets, you won't have so much risk of pulling the back off when you screw it to the wall.

Now you know how to measure for a new cabinet installation. As always, if you feel out of your depth, call a professional cabinet installer. Good luck and measure twice.