How to Make Wooden Door Handles

Updated April 17, 2017

While most doors in contemporary residences are equipped with bronze knobs, vertical wooden door handles, also called Norfolk or Suffolk latches, were very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, and can lend a unique rustic feel to your home's doors. Building your own handles can be fun and rewarding, and will give your door a personal touch.

Use the charcoal pencil to mark off the arch of your door handle along the length of the wood brick. The ideal design is a curved, rounded handle with ends expanded into flat plates used to affix it to the door, but include decorative embellishments as you see fit.

Carve the wood block to approximate size with the table saw. Run the wood through twice lengthwise and vertically to carve out the width of your handle, and then twice more lengthwise and horizontally to carve out the arch in the handle. Remember to include flat plates at each end for affixing the handle to the door.

Touch up and round the angular handle with a small hand saw. Carve out your preferred personal design. Use sandpaper to smooth and round the handle as well.

Drill a hole large enough to accommodate the slim iron bar into the top of the handle, but below the top affixing plate. This will house the thumb press.

Carve a small flat oval, from the excess wood, roughly the size of the top joint of your thumb. This will be your thumb press. Use sandpaper to smooth and round it.

Carve a small indention into the thumb press to accommodate the iron bar. Affix the iron bar to the thumb press using wood glue. Insert the iron bar with thumb press into the hole carved into the top of the wooden handle. Make sure it has ample room to pivot, as it will pass through the door and raise the latch.

Finish your wooden handle in a wood finish.

Affix the wooden handle to the door by drilling screws through the flat affixing plates at either end of the handle, being sure the situate the handle so that the iron bar passes through the latch hole of the door.


Consult home carpentry publications for design ideas.


Exercise extreme caution when using a table saw, and always wear protective eye gear.

Things You'll Need

  • Charcoal pencil
  • 4-by-4-by-10-inch brick of wood
  • Table saw
  • Hand saw
  • Sand paper
  • Electric drill
  • Wood glue
  • 2-inch slim iron bar
  • Wood finish
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
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About the Author

Will Litton was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. Currently, he is a writer, editor, publisher, and comedian living in Chicago. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from Brown University and studies improv at the iO Theater in Wrigleyville.