Installing new kitchen handles and knobs on doors

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For a start fitting kitchen cupboard and door handles is quite a simple process, as with most home D.I.Y. projects time and preparation are the key factors to a proper job. First things first, think of what tools you have at hand. Described below are 3 different methods for measuring and fitting handles. These 3 methods are a guide to show some of the most popular ways to fit kitchen handles to get you going. Read them through to see which best suits your skill level and the tools you have at hand, or think up your own way using some of these ideas. Happy reading.

Method # 1

Limited tools? This may be the way for you.

Stage 1          

Start off with a piece or card. Look for something with a square edge larger than your handle. Try an old cereal box, it should be big enough and should have square edges.

Next hold the handle up against your door and take a measurement of roughly where you want the handle positioned from the top and side. Plot these measurements on the card by measuring the distance of each hole from the edges of your door and make sure the hole centres (the distance from the centre of both holes) are exactly the same as your handle. If you are installing knobs you only need to do the one hole (sorry that one was obvious)


Note: this is your template so take your time to get this right!

Tip: Test your template out on a spare piece of wood first to check the holes are the correct distance apart, and that the handle is correctly positioned.


Hold the template up against the door, maybe use a strip or two of masking tape to hold the template in place. To ensure the template is positioned correctly try holding a stop on the door edges (a piece of wood or any flat block) to push the card up to.


When the card is positioned use an awl to push through the marked points on the card and mark the hole points on the door. If you do not have an awl use any sharp pointed device that will mark the door like a skewer or wood screw.


Remove the card template, note down the hole positions from the top and side of the door and make sure the hole centres are accurate. Hold the handle up against these marks to make sure you are still happy with the positioning and then drill the holes.


Finally screw the handles onto the door being careful not to over tighten these are usually only M4 screws (metric 4mm diameter) as standard and do not need to be tightened using both hands!


Mark out and drill all the other doors, making sure you check all the markings before you drill to make sure they are all uniform. For left and right handed doors just turn the card over.


Method # 2

Do you have a set square?

Stage 1          


If you are pretty handy with a set square and a ruler/tape measure this method may be as quick or quicker than the previous method.


To prevent marking the door use some masking tape to cover the edges and place a strip where you wish the handle to go roughly.


Hold the handle up to the door and measure where the holes are going.


Draw the tape measure down from the top of the door and mark (horizontal line) the distance from the top of the door for the first hole then mark the second hole distance (making sure the hole centres are exact).           Stage 2

Stage 3            

Then take the set square and mark on it (use some masking take on the surface if it’s hard to mark) the measurement from the edge of the door. Now just run the set square down the side of the door and mark (vertical line) the position for the holes. This will be the point where the horizontal lines already on the door meet the mark on your set square.

Stage 4


Double check your measurements and drill your holes.


Method # 3

Got all the tools?

Stage 1          


The best way to fit handles or do anything repetitive by hand is to have a good jig. What the heck is a jig? A jig is a device used to repeatedly mark out a measurement(s). If you have a hole punch with a paper guide that sticks out the bottom – that’s a type of jig.


If you have a large kitchen or fit kitchens it is well worth the time in making a decent jig for the job.


To make a simple yet accurate jig start with a piece of plywood or plank 19mm will be plenty sturdy enough but not thinner than 12mm. Cut it down to size to accommodate the handle size and the distance from the side and top. Make sure you have two square edges to work with and all cuts are square. As with the paper jig mark out the hole positions and drill the jig, double checking all measurements before drilling.           Stage 2

Stage 3            

Next get two lengths of smooth (ideally planed) wood and screw them to the two square edges on the jig. These lengths of wood must be wide enough to overhang the thickness of the ply by about an inch either side. This will allow the jig to be used for both left and right hand drilling.

Stage 4

It is as simple as that. The only thing to remember when making any jig is to keep all edges square and straight. Take your time and double check all your measurements to ensure a proper job. Remember you don't need to be far out with your measurements to notice the difference and the more you look at it the more it will stand out.


Drill Tips and Final Step


Stage 1            Hold a block of wood behind the door when drilling to prevent 'blow-out' (wood splinters).

Stage 2

Clear out any debris, insert your screws from the rear and tighten with a hand screwdriver. Note: power drivers are often too powerful and may damage the door handle by overtightening.

Stage 3            

Check both screws are hand tight and you're done!


Golden rule #1: Measure twice cut once (or in this case drill)    


This article was written by Giles Barrett an experienced carpenter and recognised expert on the subject of cabinet hardware. Giles is Product Manager at, where you can find a wealth of informative articles and resources on everything you'll ever need to know about kitchen handles, knobs and accessories.

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