Want to go from a knob to a pull? Or attach new handles in a different spot on your cabinets? Cover up any evidence of old hardware, then learn how to install cabinet hardware on existing cabinet doors.

By BH&G Editors
October 21, 2015
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Installing cabinet hardware is an easy but important project. Think of it like putting the cherry on top of your brand-new kitchen makeover. Cabinet hardware is not the most important part of your kitchen, but you would certainly notice if it were missing. Below, we show you the best, most efficient way to install and replace cabinet hardware, plus make sure your knobs and handles all look even and cohesive. With our DIY instructions, this kitchen project won't take long. We'll guide you through all the steps of how to install cabinet hardware for an instantly refreshed look.

Buying Guide

When purchasing hardware for your kitchen, think practicality over style. While floral-shaped and shimmering knobs look intriguing, they are not ideal for hardworking spaces. Shop for knobs and handles without sharp edges that can seriously hurt if they're run into. Simple metallics work best and are guaranteed to look great with any paint color for future cabinet makeovers.

What You Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • Damp cloth
  • Hardware installation jig or template from kit
  • Scrap wood (x3, if making your own jig)
  • Kitchen hardware
  • Pencil
  • Drill and drill bit
  • Screws

Step 1: Fill and Camouflage Screw Holes

First, remove the existing hardware by loosening the screw on the back of the door while holding the old hardware in place. Find a shade of wood-filling putty that best matches your cabinet. To cover holes on wood grain, plan to buy three shades of putty—one that matches the lightest and darkest wood grains as well as one halfway between them. Mix a pinch of each of the three shades together until you have a hue that's as close as possible to your original cabinet.

Use your finger to apply a pinch of putty to the cabinet where the hole is located. Push the putty into the hole to fill it completely.

Editor's Tip: Let some of the putty mixture dry before applying it to your cabinets to see if the color changes. Make adjustments as needed.

Use a putty knife to compact the putty, and scrape the flat edge of the knife across the hole to create a smooth surface. Use a damp cloth to remove excess putty. Allow the putty to dry completely. Add more if needed.

If the patched hole color is still not close enough to the cabinet finish, try stain markers and putty pencils to help camouflage the repair.

Step 2: Mark Drill Holes or Build Jig

Place a template from a hardware-installation kit against the edge of the cabinet, and make a pencil mark in the template's holes that correspond with your kitchen cabinet handles.

Editor's Tip: If you will be marking a lot of cabinets in the same spot, you can build a jig to fit your cabinets. Make your own cabinet hardware installation template with a piece of scrap wood. Check for square, then mark and drill pilot holes that match the placement of your cabinet hardware. To line the jig up perfectly with the cabinets, attach two short boards to the long and short sides of the jig, meeting in the corner. This is where you will rest the corner of the cabinet door to measure for drilling.

Step 3: Drill Pilot Holes

Attach a drill bit that corresponds with the size of your handle's screws. When determining the size drill bit to use for your pilot hole, select a bit that matches the inner diameter of the screw you'll use to attach the hardware. If your pilot hole is as wide as your screw is with the threads, the screw won't be secure.

Carefully drill into the pencil marks, making sure you don't slip and damage the cabinet. If you're using a homemade jig, line it up with the cabinet corner and drill through the template hole and the cabinet door. Be sure to use steady, even pressure.

Editor's Tip: If this is your first time installing cabinet hardware, try drilling a few practice holes on a piece of scrap wood before drilling into your cabinet doors.

Step 4: Attach New Hardware

With your holes already predrilled in the cabinet doors, simply line up your new hardware with the pilot holes on the front of the doors and secure into place with screws from the back. Use a screwdriver to tighten the screws. Repeat this process for each piece until they are all attached. Enjoy your new kitchen cabinet hardware! 

Comments (1)

Anonymous
June 7, 2018
What about the hinges? You may have to update those as well and then it becomes a bigger project.