Replacing Cabinet Hardware

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.

Installing cabinet hardware is an easy, but important project. Think of it as putting the cherry on top of your kitchen makeover. Cabinet hardware mays not be the most important part of your kitchen, but you would certainly notice if it were missing. Below, we'll show you the best, most efficient way to install and replace cabinet hardware, as well as how to ensure your knobs and handles look even and cohesive. With our DIY instructions, this kitchen project won't take long. We'll guide you through all the steps for an instantly refreshed look.

Buying Guide

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

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, hold the old hardware in place while loosening the screws on the back of the door. 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 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 hole in the cabinet. Push the putty in to fill it the hole completely.

Editor's Tip: Let some of the putty mixture dry before applying it to your cabinets, to check 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's 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 a Jig

door handle

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

Editor's Tip: If you'll be marking a lot of cabinets in the same spot, you can build a jig to fit. 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 handles' screws. When determining which drill bit to use for your pilot hole, select a bit that matches the inner diameter of the screw you'll use. If your pilot hole is as wide as your screw 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 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 into the cabinet doors, simply line up your new hardware with the pilot holes on the front of the doors. Secure them into place with the screws for the back. Use a screwdriver to tighten the screws. Repeat this process for each piece until they're all attached., and enjoy your new kitchen cabinet hardware.

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