Monday, January 25, 2021

DIY Install Cabinet Hardware Handles


You walk into your kitchen and your brought to a halt.

You don't know why you hadn't noticed it before.  Maybe you did but you were too busy to notice.  I mean lets face it, your leisure time lately has been few and far between.  Laundry, dishes keeping the house tidy from all the kids toys, constant meal prep plus let's not forget about your full time job.  Your a busy person.  It's understandable how the glaringness of it all escaped you.  

But now Pandora's box has been opened.  

Once you see it you can't unsee it.  It stares at you like cousin Eddie's missing tooth.  

The handles on your cabinets are ugly.  The one on that door is bent.  The one next to it is loose and the cabinet that holds the pots and pans doesn't even have a handle.  You're not sure who's shorts caught on it or when and ripped it clean off.

Well today it all changes.

Today is the day you get new hardware.  You're not calling someone to do it for you, NO!  Today is the day you do it yourself.


Let's cover a few things you're going to need:

1. Cabinet handles (Obvious I know, but I figured I'd state it anyway.)

2. A phillips head screw driver

3. Cordless drill

4. 3/16" Drill Bit

5. Cabinet door hardware installation template - Yes you could make one but they're cheap so if you're going to drop the money on new hardware you might as well through this in your cart as well.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way let's get on with it.

Step 1 - Remove Old Hardware

I'm assuming you're reusing doors that have already had hardware attached to them.  So the first thing will be to remove what is already there.

Doors are usually pretty straight forward.  

Simply look on the back side of where the handle is and you will find a screw or two.  Nine times out of ten it will be a Phillips head screw.  Sometimes you will find a flat head but usually only if the handles are extremely old.  I'm talking 50 plus years old.  

There is also a chance you wont see a screw head but something that looks like a plug.  The screw will be underneath.  The plugs are designed to be popped out with something flat like a flat head screwdriver.  I see the plug a lot on higher end cabinets.

Step 2 - Deal with the Aftermath

Holes are going to be left behind after removing the old hardware.  Now we have to decide what we are going to do with those holes.  

Ideally what I recommend is that you purchase new hardware that matches the size of the old.  If what you took off only had one screw, then that would be easy.  If you have two holes then there are several options.

First you can fill the old holes with wood putty and lightly sand after it dries.  However, if the new hardware doesn't cover the filled in holes it is very difficult to get them to match the grain of the cabinets.

Even if you plan on painting you might still be able to see the patch job underneath.  You could reuse one of the old holes and fill in the second.  Same problem mentioned before happens here just minus one.  

Now you see why I HIGHLY recommend using new handles that has the same measurement between attachments.  All you have to do is measure from the center of one screw hole to the center of the second.  

Then when you go shopping just look at all the options with that measurement.  

If you are shopping only it becomes easy because you can filter your search options by that measurement.

Step 3 - Attach New Handles

What scenario are we dealing with here?  Are you reusing the same holes?

Then in the package of handles you should find two sets of screws.  Long ones and short ones.  The long ones are only used if you have to go through a false front on a drawer.  The shorter ones are generally used on cabinet doors because you only have the thickness of the door to go through.   


Simply push one of the shorter screws thru the back of your door's screw holes and position the new handle in front.
Tighten it down.

If however, you have had to do something with your holes or you have brand new Kitchen cabinet doors then this is where the template is going to come in handy.

I like to center my handles on the rail of the door.  The height is discretionary but I usually do about and inch or inch and a half up from the bottom.  The template will probably dictate both of these measurements to a degree. 

Pick the hole combination that works with your new handles and mark with a marker.


Always mark the location of the screw holes with a marker then set the template aside.  Now you can safely drill without damaging your template.

Now you can chuck your 3/16" drill bit in you cordless drill and drill the marked locations.

TIP: Be sure to lay the door flat when drilling.  Have a sacrificial board underneath.  This will prevent the fibers of wood around the exit hole from breaking away.  This is called "blowout" in the woodworking industry.

Friends don't let friends endure blowout when they don't have to.


Final Thoughts

Now you can tighten down your brand new Kitchen cabinet handles and enjoy.  I suppose I shouldn't just say Kitchen cabinets because these are the same steps you would follow no matter the room they are hung in.


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Until then be well and stay safe.

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