How to Install Cabinet Hardware

handles on cabinets

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: One door and one drawer
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $2 to $20

Adding knobs or handles to cabinets, or replacing the existing hardware, is an easy way to add your own style to the kitchen. You’ll be surprised at the impact the change will make, especially considering how little time, effort, and expense this project takes.

If you are changing knobs, all you have to do is unscrew the old ones and screw on the new. Adding knobs where none existed takes a little longer because you have to locate and drill holes.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Drill with 3/16-inch twist bit
  • Straightedge
  • Screwdriver


  • Cabinet knobs
  • Cardboard
  • Finishing nail


items for installing cabinet hardware
The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  1. Measure for Door Knobs

    There is no rule about where to position knobs, but typically they are 2 1/2 to 3 inches from the top or bottom of a door and centered across the width of the stile. Measure across the flat area of a stile and divide by 2 to find the center.

    For cabinets with slab doors that don't have rails and stiles, you can plan on positioning the knobs about 2 1/2 to 3 inches from the bottom or top edge of the door, and an equal distance in from the side edge of the door.

    measuring a cabinet door for hardware placement
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  2. Make a Template

    You can position every doorknob on every door by measuring each time, but if you have more than a couple of knobs to install, making a simple cardboard template will speed the work while ensuring a uniform look. A template is also the best method if you are installing handle-style pulls that will require two screw holes.

    Measure 2 1/2 or 3 inches in from one edge of a piece of squared-off cardboard and from the adjacent edge, measure in half the width of the cabinet stile. Poke a finishing nail through the cardboard at the point where the two measurements intersect. Remove the nail.

    making a cabinet template
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  3. Mark Knob Locations on the Door

    Position the template in on the door, flush with the side and the top or bottom edge. Push the finishing nail through the hole and give it a tap with a hammer to mark the door.

    There are two reasons to use a nail as a locator instead of drilling through the template: First, a drill hole in the template will get larger and less accurate with repeated use. And second, the indentation made by the nail will prevent the drill bit from slipping out of position as you start the hole.

    using a template on a cabinet for hardware placement
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  4. Drill the Hole

    Most knob screws require a 3/16-inch-diameter hole, but it’s a good idea to drill a test hole in a scrap of wood to make sure of the size.

    Drill through the front of the door at the marked point. Hold the door open as you drill to make sure you don’t drill into the cabinet.

    drilling a hole in a cabinet
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  5. Install the Knob

    Kitchen cabinet knobs come with two screws of different lengths. The short screw is for the cabinet doors of standard thickness, while the longer screw is for use on drawers that have "false fronts" attached to the drawer boxes.

    Insert the short screw through the drilled hole from the back of the door, then thread the knob onto the screw and tighten it with a screwdriver while gripping the knob.

    using a screw driver to install a knob
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  6. Mark and Install Knobs on Drawers

    Knobs are typically centered on the faces of cabinet drawers. While you could make templates for each size of drawer in your kitchen, a very easy way to mark the center is to find the intersection point of the diagonals.

    Place a straightedge across one set of opposing diagonal corners and make a light pencil line near the center of the drawer front. Then place the straightedge across the other diagonal and mark the point where it intersects the first line.

    Drill through the drawer front and box at this point and use the longer screw to install the knob.

    If you are installing handle-style pulls, you will need to measure horizontally from the marked center point to mark holes for two handle screws.

    handle on a drawer
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena