The kitchen may be the heart of the home, but it seldom gets the sprucing up it deserves. It may not be in your budget to replace cabinetry or appliances, but what about the little things: door knobs and drawer pulls? Pricing this sort of hardware can produce mild sticker-shock, plus disappointment at the limited styles available. If you want something original and just right--making your own knobs and pulls from polymer clay may be just the do-it-yourself project you've been looking for.
Measure the depth of your cabinet door or drawer as well as the current hardware's shaft by inserting a straw or wooden skewer in place of the screw. Make a mark where the skewer emerges from the cabinet and another mark where the shaft ends.
Purchase metal binding posts the same length as your current hardware. If you're lucky enough to find posts or a shaft that is the same size as your existing hardware you should be able to reuse the screws already in your cabinets (it helps to take one of the knobs with you to the hardware store).
Condition your clay by kneading it in your hands until soft and pliable. Polymer clay comes in many colors and is easily blended for custom colors, but you can also buy white and terracotta-colored clay in larger packages and paint them once baked.
Tear off a half ounce of clay and roll it into a ball in your palms for a round knob. You can flatten the back, leave it perfectly round or flatten it into a disc. Using basic tools you can inscribe shapes or patterns into the face of the knob for added decoration or use molds. For bar-style drawer pulls, a coil of clay, cut to the length of your current hardware, works very well.
Gently press the end of the threaded shaft or binding post into the back of the knobs and wiggle them around slightly to widen the impression just a hair. Clay can contract a bit when it bakes and the epoxy will take care of any open remaining spaces when the hardware is attached.
Bake your handles as directed on the clay packaging. Make sure to use a dish or tray that will not be used for food and prop up any spherical or irregularly shaped items with foil to help them keep their shape. Be careful not to overbake the handles and let them cool completely before continuing.
Paint or decorate the knobs once they have had a chance to cool and then coat with a layer of polyurethane to protect them. Even if you don't paint them, because of the abuse they will withstand over time, it's a good idea to seal them with something to preserve your work.
Attach the hardware to the back of each knob and drawer pull along with any other decorations with epoxy for the most reliable hold. Let dry and cure the time recommended on the adhesive's packaging (usually 24 hours) before installing.
For some added glam, consider adding jewels or brads to your clay handles. Since most of these items won't stand up to baking, press them into the soft clay to make an impression, then set the decorations aside and secure them with epoxy once the clay has cooled.
If you have trouble finding binding posts, you can use a long screw or bolt inserted into the back of the knob or pull and secure it with a bolt inside the cabinet or drawer. Bake the knobs with the bolts attached and seal the edges with epoxy once cooled.
Tips and warnings
- For some added glam, consider adding jewels or brads to your clay handles. Since most of these items won't stand up to baking, press them into the soft clay to make an impression, then set the decorations aside and secure them with epoxy once the clay has cooled.
- If you have trouble finding binding posts, you can use a long screw or bolt inserted into the back of the knob or pull and secure it with a bolt inside the cabinet or drawer. Bake the knobs with the bolts attached and seal the edges with epoxy once cooled.
Things you need
- Straw or skewer
- Polymer clay
- Polymer clay tools (optional)
- Baking sheet
- Aluminum foil
- Posts and screws
- Conchos, brads, eyelets or beads (optional)
- Paint (optional)
- Polyurethane sealer
- Epoxy adhesive