How to Replace Old Cabinet Handles

by Paul Sanders

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Things You Need:

  • Power drill
  • Cabinet handles
  • Masking tape
  • Measuring tape

Refinishing your old cabinets and updating the cabinet handles can give an old kitchen new life. Installing new cabinet handles or knobs is largely a matter of careful measuring. Measuring and drilling the holes properly can mean the difference between beautifully installed cabinet hardware and an unsightly hole with wood-filler in it. Here are some simple steps to make sure your cabinet knobs or handles look great.

Replacing Cabinet Handles:

  1. Measure cabinet handles: Most cabinet handles use two screws to attach. Measure the distance between the screw holes on the handles. You'll use this measurement to mark hole locations for the cabinet handles on the drawers and doors. If you're using cabinet knobs, however, you'll typically only need one hole.

  2. Measure cabinet doors: Decide which corner you want the cabinet handle to be on. For upper cabinets, you'll want them on the bottom corner, opposite the hinges. For lower cabinets, handles usually sit at the upper corner, also opposite the hinges. Test locations for cabinet handles or knobs that look good and record both vertical and horizontal measurements for holes where the cabinet handles attach to the door. Measure and mark the location of each hole with a pencil.

  3. Measure cabinet drawers: Take vertical and horizontal measurements to locate each hole for placing the cabinet pulls on the drawers. If you have a very long drawer, you may want to attach two handles, both equal distances from the center of the drawer.

  4. Test measurements: Line up a cabinet handle with the markings on each drawer and door to test them. If the cabinet handles don't match the marks, measure again. Measure each door and drawer twice to catch mistakes.

  5. Drill holes: It's usually best to drill holes for cabinet handles before staining or finishing the cabinets. That way, you reduce the chance of scratching the nice finish if your drill slips. If you've already refinished, place a piece of masking tape over the mark where you'll be drilling. This can help prevent scratches, and you can still see the mark through the light-colored tape. Drill each hole with the door or drawer on a stable surface.

  6. Attach cabinet handles: The screws that come with your cabinet handles will attach from the inside of each drawer or door. Tighten each screw firmly and test each one by tugging lightly.

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