Home Repair: How to Fix Kitchen Cabinets

Quick solutions to the most common cabinet problems

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Glue loose knobs

Once knobs fall off your cabinets, twisting them back on won't solve the problem. They'll just keep coming loose. Use a dab of thread adhesive to keep them in place (Loctite 242, blue, is one brand that will hold the knob in place without gluing it permanently; it's sold at hardware stores and home centers). Apply the adhesive to the screw, then attach the knob. If you decide to replace the knob later, don't worry. You can remove it with a screwdriver. (If you buy a different brand, look for a removable type.)

Renew the shine

Repair busted drawers

Repair a broken drawer front

High-quality cabinet drawers are built with a sturdy box and a separate decorative drawer front. But the drawer fronts on economy cabinets are part of the box itself. They’re attached to the sides and bottom with a mortise-and-tenon joint and held with glue and staples. Repeated openings and closings break the joint and the drawer front falls off. You can try regluing the joint, but it won’t last. Here’s how to fix the problem permanently.

Cut a 3/4-in.-thick piece of wood to match the width and height of the drawer box. Then remove the staples from the tenons and clean up the rough edges so you can reinstall the drawer front (Photo 1). Glue the new wood block directly behind the drawer front (use polyurethane glue if the box sides and bottom have been varnished). Secure with nails or screws. Then attach the old drawer front to the new wood block (Photo 2).

Using the old drawer pull holes as a guide, drill through the new wood block. Buy longer No. 8-32 x 1-3/4-in. machine screws and remount the drawer pull.

Add back plates to cover worn areas

Replace bad latches

Older cabinets sometimes have “roller catches” that hold the doors closed. If you have these and your door won't close or stay closed, loosen the screws to slide the catch forward or backward on the cabinet frame. Or replace it if it's broken. The catches are available at home centers.

Fill in scratches

Lubricate sticking drawers

Pull doors shut with magnets

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Clamps
  • Miter saw
  • Cordless drill
  • Circular saw
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Level
  • Rags
  • Utility knife
  • Wood glue

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • 3/4-in. plywood
  • 1x2
  • Brad nails
  • Drawer slides
  • Door bumpers
  • Toothpicks
  • 1/4-in. plywood
  • Removable thread adhesive
  • Wood cleaner
  • Back plates for knobs
  • Roller catches
  • Wood fill stick
  • Dry lubricant
  • Magnet catch

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