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Drilling Your Own Cabinet Hardware (Knobs and Pulls)


Buying new cabinets is a great way to invest in your home, but the costs can really add up. One way to save on your cabinet installation is to purchase and install your own knobs or pulls. By drilling your own cabinet hardware, you’ll not only save, but be able to fully customize the look and visual appeal of your cabinets.

Start with new cabinets installed by Superior

Obviously, to start, you’ll need cabinets. That’s where we come in. Superior Stone & Cabinet is one of the largest suppliers of kitchen and bathroom cabinets in the Phoenix metro area. Learn more about our cabinets and see the styles and colors we have available.

Cabinet Styles and Colors

Cabinet doors are a crucial component of kitchen design, and the type you choose can significantly impact the overall look and functionality of your space. Here, we’ll highlight three popular types of cabinet doors: slab, raised panel, and recessed panel, along with the pros and cons of adding hardware to each.

Slab Cabinet Doors

Raised Panel Cabinet Doors

Recessed Panel Cabinet Doors


What are knobs and pull handles, and why do they matter?

In this article, we use the word “hardware” to describe the knobs and pull handles commonly found on the front of kitchen cabinets as a mechanism for opening the cabinet. Here’s an example of some cabinet hardware. Here are some of the reasons that you should consider adding hardware to your cabinets.

First, they extend the life of your cabinet finish by helping the wood avoid oils and chemicals from human contact.

Second, they’re a must when you have full overlay doors and drawer fronts.

Finally, they look fantastic and can take any kitchen from just so-so to truly outstanding. If you want your guests to stand and stare in awe of your new kitchen, customized or high-quality knobs and pull handles are the way to go.

Of course, you might also want to consider pairing your cabinet knobs and pull handles with other cabinet storage options.

Step #1: Examine your cabinets and pick the right hardware

When choosing your new hardware, make sure you examine your cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Start by measuring the width of the flat areas on your doors and drawer fronts.

Some kitchen layouts have some very small doors or drawer fronts that wide handles may not fit on. You need to pick your hardware—that is, the actual knob or pull handle—based on the width of the smallest door or drawer you have.

Also, pay attention to how flat the area is where the base of the knob or pull will sit. Some hardware have really wide bases that—depending on the detailing on your calendar—may not fit.


Hardware types:

Cabinet hardware is a small piece of kitchen decor that can make a big impact on the overall look and feel of your space. It’s not just about aesthetics, though; the right hardware can also enhance the functionality of your cabinets. Here are some common types of cabinet hardware, along with a few specialty options:



Cremone Bolts:




Cabinet Hardware Metals and Finishes

When it comes to pairing hardware metals and finishes with cabinet types, there are no hard and fast rules. However, here are some general guidelines that might help:

Cabinet hardware is available in a wide range of metals and finishes, each with its own unique aesthetic. Here are some of the most common options:

  • Stainless Steel: This is a popular choice for modern or industrial-style kitchens. It’s durable, easy to clean, and matches well with stainless steel appliances.
  • Brass: Brass hardware can range from bright and shiny to aged and antique-looking. It’s a versatile choice that can add a touch of elegance to any kitchen.
  • Bronze: Bronze hardware often has a warm, rich color that can add depth and character to your cabinets. It’s particularly popular in traditional or rustic kitchen designs.
  • Nickel: Nickel hardware is available in both polished and brushed finishes. Polished nickel has a shiny, reflective surface, while brushed nickel has a more muted, matte look.
  • Black Iron: Black iron hardware can add a bold, dramatic touch to your cabinets. It’s often used in farmhouse or industrial-style kitchens.

Mixing and Pairing Metals and Finishes with Cabinet Types

When it comes to pairing hardware metals and finishes with cabinet types, there are no hard and fast rules. However, here are some general guidelines that might help:

  • Slab Cabinet Doors: The minimalist design of slab doors pairs well with sleek, modern hardware. Consider stainless steel or black iron for a contemporary look, or brass for a touch of warmth.
  • Raised Panel Cabinet Doors: The traditional style of raised panel doors works well with classic hardware metals like brass or bronze. For a more modern twist, try polished or brushed nickel.
  • Recessed Panel Cabinet Doors: The clean lines of recessed panel doors can be enhanced with simple, understated hardware. Brushed nickel or stainless steel would be a good choice.

When it comes to mixing metals, the key is balance. If you’re using two different metals, try to use each one at least twice in the room to create a cohesive look. For example, you might choose brass hardware for your cabinets and also have brass light fixtures. Similarly, if your appliances are stainless steel, you might choose stainless steel hardware to match.

Remember, these are just guidelines. The most important thing is to choose what you love and what works for your lifestyle.


Step #3 Tools and Materials Needed

For a successful DIY installation of cabinet hardware, having the right tools and materials is essential. This ensures not only the ease of the task but also the safety and accuracy of your work. Here at Superior Stone & Cabinet, we recommend gathering the following items before you begin:

Essential Tools:

  1. Power Drill: A quality power drill is crucial for making precise holes in your cabinetry. Cordless drills offer convenience and ease of movement.
  2. Drill Bits: Select drill bits that are specifically designed for the material of your cabinets. For instance, use wood drill bits for wooden cabinets. The size of the drill bit should match the size of the screws provided with your hardware.
  3. Measuring Tape or Ruler: Precision is key in hardware installation. A measuring tape or ruler is necessary for accurate placement of the knobs and pulls.
  4. Level: To ensure that your hardware is perfectly horizontal or vertical, a level is indispensable.
  5. Pencil or Marking Tool: Use a pencil or a non-permanent marker to mark the spots where you will be drilling.
  6. Screwdriver: A screwdriver is needed for the final installation of the knobs and pulls.

Safety Equipment:

  1. Safety Goggles: Protecting your eyes from wood shavings and dust is crucial.
  2. Gloves: A pair of gloves can protect your hands from sharp edges and provide a better grip.

Selecting the Right Hardware:

Your choice of hardware should not only complement the style of your cabinets but also fit the existing or planned holes. Consider the size, finish, and design that best suits your cabinetry. If you’re replacing old hardware, take a piece to the store to match the size and screw spacing.

Additional Materials:

  1. Masking Tape: Placing masking tape over the area to be drilled can help prevent splitting or chipping of the cabinet material.
  2. Spare Wood or a Drilling Block: To avoid blowout on the backside of the cabinet door or drawer, use a piece of spare wood or a drilling block behind the drilling point.

Gathering these tools and materials beforehand will streamline your installation process, making it more efficient and enjoyable. With everything at hand, you’re now ready to prepare for the actual installation, as we’ll explore in the next section.

Step #2: Make sure you have the right screws for the job

Finally, remember to check if the hardware you are going to buy has longer screws for the drawers. Most hardware only comes with smaller 1-inch screws for the doors. So, measure the thickness of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts—including the drawer box—to determine you are getting the right screws. If the screws you have are too long or too short, you can find suitable replacements at any home improvement store.

Typical Screw Sizes for Standard Cabinet Doors and Drawers

When installing cabinet hardware, it’s important to use the correct screw size to ensure a secure fit. The size of the screw you need will depend on the thickness of your cabinet doors and drawers, as well as the type of hardware you’re installing. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Cabinet Doors: Standard cabinet doors are typically 3/4 inch thick. For these, you’ll generally need a screw that’s 1 to 1 1/4 inches long. This allows the screw to go through the hardware and the door, but not so far that it risks poking out the inside of the cabinet.
  • Cabinet Drawers: Drawers can be a bit trickier because they often have a face that’s attached to a separate box, making them thicker than doors. A typical drawer front might be 3/4 inch thick, with the box adding another 1/2 to 3/4 inch. For these, you might need a screw that’s 1 1/2 to 2 inches long.

Remember, these are just general guidelines. The exact screw size you need can vary based on the specific hardware and cabinets you’re working with. It’s always a good idea to measure your cabinets and hardware before purchasing screws.

Also, keep in mind that most cabinet hardware comes with screws included. However, these screws may not be the right size for your specific cabinets, especially if you have thicker-than-average doors or drawers. In such cases, you’ll need to purchase additional screws that are the correct length.

Step #3: Figure out where you need to drill

There are two ways to figure out where you need to drill holes for installing the hardware:

Measuring every door and drawer. As you might expect, this can take a while, especially if you live by a “measure twice, cut once” mentality (which you should, especially when you’re drilling your own cabinet hardware for the first time!)

Using a jig from the hardware store as a template. This is much faster and easier, but you’ll need to decide which holes in the template to use for the specific hardware you’ve selected. When in doubt, ask the folks at the local hardware store.

If you decide to measure manually:

Measure the width of the side rail of the door—including the detail—and divide that in half to find the center. If you are unsure about your math, measure the opposite way after you mark it to double-check your accuracy.

You can do the same vertically. Of course, pull handles and knobs on the pull-out drawers should be in the exact center of the drawer. But, for the rest of your cabinets, you’ll have to decide the vertical placement of the hardware. The standard is 3″ up the upper doors and 3″ down on the base doors.

Step #4: Drilling the cabinet doors

Make sure that you open the door during the drilling process to ensure that you don’t end up drilling the wrong side of the door and so you don’t drill into the frame of the cabinet behind the door.

Once you drill the first holes, then you can find out which holes in the template line up the best. You may have to drill your own hole in the template. For the rest of the doors, mark the holes on the door with a pencil using the template.

Do not drill through the template. After a couple holes the hole will get bigger in the template and will no longer be accurate.



Using a Templating Guide for Drilling Holes for Cabinet Hardware

Choose the Right Templating Guide: Templating guides come in a variety of styles, from simple plastic templates to adjustable metal jigs. Choose one that fits your needs and budget. Some are designed specifically for doors or drawers, while others can be used for both.

  1. Mark the Spot: Decide where you want your hardware to go. For doors, hardware is typically placed on the corner of the door opposite the hinge. For drawers, it’s usually centered both vertically and horizontally. Use your templating guide to mark the spot where you’ll drill the hole. The guide should have holes that correspond to common hardware sizes and placements.
  2. Drill the Hole: Once you’ve marked the spot, use a drill to make the hole. Be sure to use a drill bit that’s the right size for your hardware screws. It’s a good idea to start with a smaller bit and work your way up to the correct size to prevent splintering or damage to the cabinet.
  3. Repeat the Process: Use the templating guide to repeat the process for each door and drawer. This will ensure that all your hardware is placed consistently.

Using a templating guide can make the process of installing cabinet hardware much easier and more accurate. It’s a worthwhile investment, especially if you’re installing a lot of hardware.

Step #5: Drilling the cabinet drawers

Drilling the cabinet drawers is a little more difficult than the doors, but it is doable for you, as a homeowner committed to drilling your own cabinet hardware.

First, measure the height of the drawer front and divide it in half. Put a pencil mark on the drawer front where the middle will be. Be sure that you do not press too hard with the pencil—you don’t want to put an indentation in the wood. This is an easy mistake to make when you’re drilling your own cabinet hardware for the first time.

After you find the vertical center, measure the width of the drawer front and divide that in half to mark the center of the front horizontally. If you are drilling a single hole for knobs, this is where you will drill.

If you are drill two holes for a pull handle, you need to measure equal distances left and right to ensure the pull will be center on the drawer front. You may also choose to put two pulls on wider drawers if desired. Usually when this is done, you try to measure equal distances from both sides. Once you drill your first holes, then you can line up the template.

Step #6: Installing the Hardware

Once you have drilled the holes for your cabinet hardware, the next step is to install the knobs and pulls. This phase is where your hard work pays off as you see your cabinetry transform with the new hardware. Superior Stone & Cabinet is here to ensure that your installation process is smooth and effective.

  1. Aligning the Hardware:
    • Start by aligning your hardware with the drilled holes. For pulls, ensure that both ends are equidistant from the edges of the door or drawer for a symmetrical appearance.
  2. Attaching the Hardware:
    • Insert the screws from the backside of the door or drawer front. For drawers, you may need longer screws than for doors due to the thickness of the drawer front.
    • Tighten the screws by hand initially to ensure that the hardware is properly aligned.
    • Once you’re sure of the alignment, use a screwdriver to secure the hardware in place. Be careful not to overtighten, as this can damage the hardware or the cabinet.
  3. Ensuring a Tight and Secure Fit:
    • Check each knob or pull to ensure it’s firmly attached and doesn’t wobble. A loose knob or pull can lead to wear and tear over time.
    • If any hardware feels loose, gently tighten the screws until the hardware is secure.
  4. Finishing Touches:
    • Once all the hardware is installed, step back and examine the cabinets from different angles to ensure that everything looks aligned and even.
    • Clean the hardware with a soft cloth to remove any fingerprints or smudges.
  5. Adjustments if Needed:
    • If you notice any misalignment or if the hardware doesn’t function as smoothly as expected, it’s okay to make minor adjustments. Loosen the screws slightly, adjust the position, and then retighten.

By following these steps, you will not only achieve a new aesthetic for your cabinets but also ensure that your hardware is installed securely and functions properly. This upgrade to your cabinets can significantly enhance the overall look and feel of your space. With the hardware now installed, your DIY project is nearly complete. The final step is to ensure the longevity of your work through proper maintenance and care, which we will cover in the next section.

Additional tips for drilling your own cabinet hardware

Always use a new, sharp drill bit and do not push hard when drilling your doors and drawer fronts. If you use a dull drill bit, or push while you drill, you’ll blow the back of the wood out and make it look unsightly behind the door or drawer.

Make sure to make any cabinet adjustments before drilling your drawers. If you don’t wait, the hardware will appear off level and will be harder to adjust later.

Always use a drill bit slightly larger than the screw you are using. If the screw does not go in freely, it will strip out and break off inside the drawer or door. A 3/16″ drill bit is recommended for the standard 8/32″ screws.

If you are uncertain about anything, ask someone. Cabinet doors and drawers can be expensive to replace, so if you’re drilling your own cabinet hardware, you’ll want to take the time to do things right.

Learn more about cabinets and see our selection by calling Superior Stone & Cabinet

Superior Stone & Cabinet is your source for quality cabinets and cabinet installation. Give us a call at (602) 437-0088, visit our Phoenix, Arizona showroom, or contact us online with your questions.