PUBLISHED: Friday, May 25, 2012 by Donna Cook

Are you building a new kitchen? Are you giving your old cabinets a fresh look? No matter which project your are about to embark on....keep this in mind- Decorative Cabinet Hardware is like the frosting on the cake and we all love cake! No, wait? Maybe it's we all love frosting?  Anyway, I'm getting off point.... Long before I started my “Mess to Managed” projects, I swapped out my cabinet pulls. It is a very fast and easy project that takes only an hour or so once you get your hardware style picked out. I personally like a solid pull. They are easier to keep clean but I dearly love the more ornate style. If it weren't for baking and possibly getting dough in them, I would swap mine out again in a heartbeat. Simple functionality works for me.

A few things to keep in mind: Before ordering knobs and pulls, be sure to find out if screws are included. Although screws are generally included, there are knobs that do not come with them. The more budget friendly-inexpensive plastic knobs and pulls usually do not include screws. Knowing this ahead of time saves in needing to order screws or make a trip to the hardware store later.  Also, depending on the thickness of cabinet doors and drawer fronts, the screws provided may be too short. Manufacturers have one set length of screw for their product and these do not always work for all customers applications. If that is the case, buy breakaway screws.  This type of screw allows you to easily cut it to the length you need.

OK, I mentioned I did a little swap out of my pulls. I am telling you this because I came up two pulls short for my project. When ordering your knobs and pulls take the time to get an accurate count. It is easy to overlook the small upper cabinets in kitchens when doing your count. Also, consider ordering a few extra of the items. Years of use can take a toll on the most used hardware. Ordering extras will ensure you have a replacement if you need one later. Remember, as with today's fashion styles, hardware also changes with the times. What is available today may not be around 5 years from now.

If your doors and drawers are already drilled, be sure to measure the distance between the two holes for the pulls.  Because the distance varies, it is important to know the spacing between the two holes. Pulls are measured using the “Center to Center” measurement of the holes. 

If you are replacing old hardware to give your older cabinets or furniture a fresh look, you may have an unusual center to center measurement making it hard to find new pulls. Quick Tip:  If this happens consider using a back plate to cover your old set of holes.

If your cabinet doors and drawers are new, consider where you would like your knobs to be positioned on the door.  Basic rule of thumb, on wall cabinets, the knobs are generally 4” above the bottom of the door. On base cabinets, placement is about 3-4” from the top of the door.

After you have established the approximate placement of your knobs, you should make a template or a pattern.  This will help keep the knobs at a uniform level throughout your kitchen, with little room for error. Make a backward “L” shaped block of wood with enough overhang on one side that it will fit on the door. This simple trick will make it very easy to do your measurements.

Use small pieces of wood for the "L" shaped frame, and use a thin piece of plywood or other thin wood for the light blue area. By placing the thin wood on top of the frame (dark blue) you have created a pattern/template that will fit snugly to the cabinet edge, making it easy to mark the hole where you want the knob placed.

The backward “L” template should resemble and fit like a “steel square” (like what carpenters use) on the corner of your cabinet, and the overlapping part will have a pre-drilled hole at the level that you want your knobs to be.  If you do not have the wood materials to make such a pattern, simply use heavy stock cardboard. Secure your pattern/template in place and use nail set or other device to mark the correct height of your knobs. The final step is to drill your holes. It is easy to scratch the finish of your cabinet doors. Quick Tip: An easy way to prevent this from happening, is to put a bit of masking tape on the surface before you drill.  If you happen to drill too enthusiastically it will prevent help prevent the drill from scratching the door.

The screws are inserted from the back of the door into the knob and screwed tightly to the cabinet door.  You could also countersink the holes you have drilled before screwing on the knobs.  This will keep the head of the screw from sticking out from the back of your cabinet. Although countersinking your screws eliminates the screw head from protruding slightly, it is not a necessary step and in no way interferes with the functionality of your cabinet or cabinet hardware. I hope this little article helps you when purchasing pulls and knobs. Remember, hardware comes in many styles that can coordinate with the overall style of your kitchen.  Whether it is a new installation or you are just doing a little facelift...a simple swap of hardware can give your kitchen a whole new look on even the tightest budget. And don't forget....count twice....order once! When you are done send me your pictures!

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