The knobs and pulls you see on your cabinets are discrete, out of the way, but say a certain something about your kitchen or bathroom. They are a necessary element of your room that is not only functional, but decorative. And due to their small size and ease of manufacture, the endless varieties of each can be overwhelming. So to help make one aspect to using decorative hardware easier, we’re going to show you how to install them properly.We’re going to go over a few different subjects in one post here, but they all pertain to putting new knobs and pulls on your cabinets. Let’s get down to it.

No matter what you end up doing, you’re going to need to place masking tape over where you intend to drill. Use a pencil to mark on top of it. Using this method will also prevent your drill from slipping and marring your cabinets or drilling in the wrong place.



3/16 of an inch bit

Measuring tape

Pencil or pen

Masking tape

Enough knobs, handles or pulls for your room<

Drawer pulls
If you’re using a knob, this is pretty easy. Get out your measuring tape and measure the height and width of your surface. Divide each number by two and you have the center. Mark the center with tape and use your pencil to designate your drilling site. If you have multiple cabinets in a row using the same knob that you’re about to install, use a level to make sure they’re all lined up. Measure everything twice so that you can avoid ugly mistakes.

Seriously, measure twice

Using a 3/16” drill bit, drill out your hole for the screws. Most screws will come with your knobs and pulls. Twist the hardware in by hand until tight. If the fit isn’t tight enough, there are two solutions: washers or refilling the hole. The first solution works best if you have a round, broad knob. Using a small washer should be enough to secure it in place. This also works for screws that are too long.

If you have to refill your hole…well damn. If it’s made out of a hardwood cabinet like Oak, then you can take scrap pieces of the same type and cut them down small enough to fit in the hole. Use wood glue to fill in the gaps in the hole between the scraps. Use an awl to mark where you want to redrill and move on from there. If your cabinet is soft wood, do the same method but use matchsticks with the flammable heads cut off.

Cabinet Doors
Installing knobs on cabinet doors generally has a rule of thumb: 2 inches from the horizontal and 1 and a half inches from the vertical edge.  However, this is fuzzy math- the better rule of thumb is “whatever looks good.”

Getting a perfect 2 inches from one edge and whatever from the other isn’t necessarily going to be the best choice for your choice of wood, sculpting, color or pull. Have a spouse or friend hold a few of the chosen knob or pull on some cabinets and take a step back. Try to imagine dozens of them on every cabinet door in the same place, and if that’s what you really want your space to look like. Does it capture the vibe? Does it tie the room together?

When drilling your cabinet doors, make sure they are open so you do not accidentally drill into the cabinet behind them.
You should avoid something like this.

One Comment

  • Interesting article above, practical.
    However, there is an easier, slide on cabinet handle now available online. It slides on, NO drills needed, no need to drill into your fine wood cabinetry. Also, it’s eco-friendlly, since the cabinet hardware is made with recycled material.

    Renters love the handles, since they do no damage to the cabinets, so the landlords don’t mind.

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