Learn how to use templates, glue, putty and various tricks of the trade to install kitchen cabinet hardware perfectly, without loose, misaligned knobs or extra holes.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:February 2013
and cabinets. For the
past few months, he's been
working on a large college
dorm project. Having
installed thousands of pulls
and knobs, he has assembled
quite a toolbox full of tricks.
There's more to installing
kitchen cabinet hardware than drilling
holes and screwing on
knobs and pulls. Whether
you're installing hardware on
brand new cabinets or
replacing the hardware in a
100-year-old kitchen, think
before you drill. Cabinets are
expensive, and they look a
whole lot better without
extra holes. We asked Jerome
Worm for some tips on how to
install the “jewelry of the
kitchen” — cabinet knobs, pull and other hardware. Use these tips to
help your next install go
quicker and with fewer
The location of knobs and pulls isn't written in stone, but there are some
“standard practices” to install cabinet hardware. One good rule of thumb is to line up a knob with the
top of the bottom door rail. If you're installing door pulls, line up the
bottom of the pull with the top of the door rail. Always center them on
the door stile.
Ultimately, the person
paying for the hardware
has the final
word on where the
knobs and pulls are to be
installed. If Jerome's customers
don't like his suggestions, he
sticks a piece of reusable putty adhesive
to the hardware and lets them put it wherever they
want. He marks that spot with a pencil and installs
the rest of the hardware accordingly.
DAP makes a
reusable adhesive called BLUESTIK. Buy a package
at a home center for a few dollars.
A good drawer template will have holes and spacing for most types of drawer pulls and knobs.
Align cabinet pulls perfectly every time with a cabinet template that locks against both the bottom and side.
If you have more than a few knobs or pulls to
install, use a template when you install cabinet hardware. A template makes the job
go faster, increases uniformity and reduces the
chance for mistakes. The Liberty Cabinet and
Drawer Installation Templates shown here cost under $10 at a home center.
If you install a lot of hardware, buy
a pro version like the one Jerome is
using in the lead photo above.
That's an EZ-JIG EZ1000.
It's adjustable and has
where you insert
the drill bit. You can get one for about $35 at
Store-bought templates and well-used homemade templates
have a bunch of holes you won't use on every job.
Avoid using the wrong hole by sticking masking tape over the
jig, and poking through only the holes you need. Instead of
using a pencil to mark the location of the hole on the cabinet,
use an awl. That way your drill bit won't skate off in the wrong
direction when you drill the hole.
Oblong and rectangular knobs that
fasten with a single screw are notorious
for twisting over time. Thread
sealant will keep a screw from
coming loose from the knob, but it
won't necessarily stop the knob
from twisting. Jerome avoids callbacks
by adding a drop of super glue
to the back of these types of knobs
before he installs them.
If you don't have a template, make one. This simple template consists of two pieces of wood
and takes only a few minutes to make. This same template can be used for almost any size
door and most hardware sizes.
If you're having problems with the wood
on the back side of the cabinet doors
tearing out every time you drill a hole,
make a two-sided template. Make sure
the spacer wood is close to the same
size as the cabinet doors. The tighter the
fit, the less chance of tear-out.
Every time the screw in a knob works
itself loose, the owners of those cabinets
are going to think unflattering
thoughts about whoever put them in.
Keep your customers happy—add a dab
of removable thread sealant to every screw
you install. Loctite is one brand.
If back plates won't cover the old holes, use
putty to fill them. The wood grain on
cabinet doors and fronts usually varies in
color, so take one of the doors to a
hardware store or home center, and buy
three different colors of putty. Buy one that
matches the darkest grain, one that
matches the lightest grain and one halfway
between. Use the three to mix a custom
color to fill the holes.
The false drawer directly in front of
the sink may look naked without
any hardware, but it's not very comfortable
getting poked by a knob in
your midsection every time you lean
over the sink.
Most drawer pulls are centered on the
drawer fronts, but if the cabinet you're
working on has two or three drawers the
same size and one larger one at the
bottom, install the bottom knob (or pull)
higher than the center of that drawer front.
Install it so all the knobs on the cabinet are
spaced evenly. This configuration is pleasing
to the eye and you don't have to bend over as far to open the bottom drawer.
Not every pull is the same size, and
not every cabinet door/drawer is
the same thickness. If you have the
old hardware with you at the store,
you'll be able to tell the size of the
pulls you need as well as the length
of screws required.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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