How to fit kitchen handles

Updated July 20, 2017

Whether you're installing new handles or replacing existing hardware, fitting kitchen handles requires only minimal carpentry skills and basic tools. Replacing handles with handles of the same size is easiest, of course, and you can use wood putty or a decorative base plate to hide existing holes if you change handle sizes. Using a plastic template will speed the process and ensure consistent handle placement.

New door handles

Measure 2.5 cm (1 inch) from the vertical edge and 5 cm (2 inches) from the horizontal edge of a flat panel or recessed panel door to determine handle placement. Use removable, two-sided foam tape to temporarily position the handle if the vertical edge of the door is 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide or less.

Measure from the centre of the screw hole in each end of the handle to ensure holes are drilled in the proper location on the door. Transfer this measurement to the door and line up marks with the plastic template. Secure the template to the door with masking tape and make sure the marks for the handle are vertically straight and level.

Use the finishing nail to mark the spot where each screw will go. Make sure your drill bit is no larger than the screws you're using. Drill a hole for the first screw.

Push the screw through the hole and loosely attach one end of the handle to the screw. Make sure the other mark and the other hole in the handle line up. Remove the handle, and drill through the door at the mark for the second hole.

Thread both screws through the door and into the handle. Hold handle in place while you tighten each screw with the screwdriver. Double-check to ensure the handle is straight, and repeat the process on each subsequent door.

Resizing door handles

If your new handles are a different size than the old ones, remove the existing handles and fill existing holes with wood putty. Sand the repaired area smooth when the putty is dry. Paint or stain the repaired area to match the cabinet door.

Measure to determine placement of the handle as in section 1, step 2. Mark the plastic template with the new hole positions, and tape the plastic template in place. Ensure holes are straight, and drill from the outside to the inside of the door.

If you can't hide the old holes, install a decorative base plate over them, ensuring that the holes in the base plate line up with the new holes you just drilled. Insert screws through the new holes from the inside through the outside of the door. Ensure that the handle is straight, and tighten the screws with a screwdriver.

New drawer handles

Measure the drawer front for vertical and horizontal centre, and mark this point with a pencil. Center the new handle over the pencil point. Mark the location of the screw holes at both ends of the handle, and align the plastic template over these marks.

Tape the plastic template in place, and drill from the outside to inside of the drawer. Make sure screws are long enough to fit through drawer frame and drawer front. Insert screws from the inside to outside of drawer.

Place the handle over the screws and hand-tighten. Ensure that the handle is straight and level. Holding the handle in place, tighten the screws with a screwdriver.

Resizing drawer handles

Remove existing drawer handles, and repair holes according to the instructions in section 2, step 1. Measure vertical and horizontal centre of drawer, and mark with a pencil. Align the plastic template so the pencil mark is centred between the holes in the template.

Tape the template in place on the drawer. Drill through the drawer front. Push the screws from inside to outside the drawer front, and hand-tighten the screws.

Ensure that the handle is straight and level. Hold the handle in place. Tighten the screws with a screwdriver.


If the screws that came with your new handles aren't long enough to reach through your drawer frames and panels, replace them with longer screws.


Be sure to measure from the centre of each screw hole in the handle. Don't measure from the outside edges of the handle because the hole is set back slightly from the handle edge. Making a small hole with the nail point before drilling a hole will allow the drill to seat into the hole and will prevent it from skipping across the drawer front and damaging the finish. Don't overtighten screws to avoid splitting the wood of doors and drawers.

Things You'll Need

  • Handles
  • Tape measure
  • Removable, two-sided foam tape
  • Pencil
  • Plastic template
  • Masking tape
  • Finishing nail
  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood putty
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint or stain
  • Decorative base plate
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About the Author

Lana White has a writing career that spans more than 20 years. Her articles have appeared in "Dayton Daily News," "Cincinnati Enquirer," "Leatherneck" magazine, "Discover Dayton Magazine" and many trade journals. Her commercial ad copy has aired across Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio television and radio stations. White studied at Miami University.