How to Install Cabinet Hardware With Simple Tools

  • 01 of 05

    Find the Correct Size Drill Bit

    Installing New Cabinet Hardware
    Installing New Cabinet Hardware. BanksPhotos / Getty Images

    Installing cabinet hardware is one of the most satisfying kitchen or bathroom rehab projects you can take on.  By adding new knobs or pulls to your cabinets, you instantly update your kitchen within the span of only a couple of hours.

    But there is one catch:  it is a very exacting project with no room for error.  Drill a hole in slightly the wrong spot and you ruin an expensive drawer or door front.  Besides total replacement, your only recourse is wood putty.

    You will need:

    • Cordless drill
    • Tape measure
    • Laser level or chalk snap line
    • Painter's tape
    • Drill bits
    • Cabinet hardware
    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Find Your Horizontals or Verticals

    Find Horizontal or Vertical
    Find Horizontal or Vertical. © Lee Wallender

    Select a drill bit by inserting bits of increasing size into the hole on the cabinet hardware. Choose the bit that most tightly fits into that hole.

    If you are dealing with a long stretch of doors or drawers, mark the holes on the extreme points first (left to right, or top to bottom). Draw a line between the two extreme points either with a straight edge or chalk snap line.

    • For a row, obtain the vertical measurement, halve it, then mark that spot. Do this twice, one on each end.
    • For a column, obtain the horizontal measurement, halve it, then mark that spot. Do this twice, one on each end.

    As an alternative to using a chalk snap line, you can use a laser level.  Run the laser line across the face of all doors or drawers, thus obtaining the vertical measurement.

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Find Your Center

    Find Center for Drilling
    Find Center for Drilling. © Lee Wallender

    Are you installing single-screw type hardware or double-screw type? Either way, you need to find the one center spot per drawer.

    With cabinet doors, you will not be centering the hardware in the middle of the door. A lower corner is a more likely candidate.

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Apply Masking Tape to Prevent Damage

    Affix Masking Tape on Drill Spots
    Affix Masking Tape on Drill Spots. © Lee Wallender

    Lay down a small piece of masking tape over the general area where you think the center will be.

    The tape will prevent the drill bit from "walking," and thus ruining the cabinet face.

    If you have supreme confidence in your drilling abilities, you can dispense with the masking tape.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Drill the Holes

    Drill the Holes for Cabinet Hardware
    Drill the Holes for Cabinet Hardware. © Lee Wallender

    Have you heard the expression "measure twice, cut once?" In this case, it is "measure twice, drill once." You will not have more than one chance to drill into your expensive kitchen cabinetry.

    After drilling, remove the painter's tape.


    • If you drilled in slightly the wrong spot (1/16" or so), it is possible to wiggle the drill bit around (or use a larger bit) to enlarge the hole. This will allow you to position the hardware in a slightly different spot when you bolt it down.
    • If you drilled in a completely wrong spot, redrill a hole. With expensive solid wood cabinetry, this is possible because the better wood allows for you to drill two holes close together. But if you are dealing with less expensive particleboard, the board may crumble if you try to drill holes near each other.