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The Correct Way To Drill For Cabinetry Door Handles

December 21st, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Templates For Drilling Holes In Cabinet DoorsThere really is a wrong way and a correct way to drill for cabinetry door handles. If you do not take extreme care in doing this it may be costly. Using the proper technique for drilling a cabinet door is going to require that you make or purchase a template to use as a guide. You may have to do both.

The photos we have on display show two that we made for our installer to use. One is for the drawer and the other is for the door.  Places like Home Depot and Lowe’s sell templates for drilling cabinet doors for hardware that have several combination’s of holes centers for you to choose from. But one of these pre-made guides may not be appropriate to use in your particular situation or be able to work for your application.




If this is the case,  you can check with a local cabinet supply company or make your own. A professional cabinet supply should stock a  template that you can pick up at a reasonable price. Our display  photos show templates that were made using small blocks and strips of wood.

  • Tip: Measure twice and drill once.

If you make your own template be aware of this, the more you drill the larger the holes get in the wood guide. We purchase small plastic templates that have hollow metal inserts to drill through so, the holes will not become irregularly shaped.

Holes that are not perfect in measurement can cause your handle centers to be slightly off because the holes in the template have become oblong. If this happens your handles will not look right. You can refer to this article: How To Correct Crooked Cabinet Door Hardware.

A one thirty second of an inch (1/32″) difference on two handles next to each other, on a double door cabinet, will have the appearance of  a one sixteenths  of an inch (1/16″)  mistake.

Using An Awl For Drilling Holes For Cabinet Door Handles
Another technique is to measure each hole center and mark it with a pencil. Once you have made your marks, use an awl and a hammer to create a small depression exactly on the pencil mark. This will keep th4e drill bit from walking when you are drilling the holes.

  • Tip: If you make your own guide, let the small edge strips hang over on both sides of the larger block about one half of an inch (1/2″). This will allow it to be reversible for doors that are hinged on the right or left.

How To Drill Cabinetry Door Handle Holes

The standard size drill bit that we have used for many years is 3/16.” Open the cabinet door and place your guide on the proper edge and on the front-side of the door. You always drill from the front to the backside. Place the drill in the template hole and drill slowly at high speed.

If you go to fast and apply a lot of pressure, you will blow the backside out and the result will be having a large chunk or splintered area that the screw head may not cover. Make sure that when you are holding the jig in place and drilling that your fingers or hand are not in line with where the bit will be exiting on the backside. Don’t laugh, I actually know of a professional cabinet maker that did this.

Drill Bit For Drilling Cabinet Door Hardware Holes

Tip: Some professional cabinet supply companies may sell tapered drill bits (refer to the photo). These will reduce the risk greatly of blowing out the backside of the door when you are drilling the holes.

The same method applies here as with a regular 3/16″ drill bit, you operate the drill at full speed and use a minimal amount of pressure as the hole is being boring. It is not necessary to place a board behind where the hole will come through with either type bit.  However, it is important for the drill bit to be sharp.

How To Straighten Out Crooked Cabinetry Door Handles

If for some reason you end up with holes that are slightly off,  they can be fixed. Here’s how I fix crooked cabinetry door handles. Place the drill bit inside  the hole. With the drill powered up,  ream both  holes to a larger size. Be careful not to get them too big in relation to the size of the cabinet handle base.  You may have to apply sufficient pressure on the handle as you are tightening the screw to get the handle to straighten up.

If you will allot sufficient time to execute the process of drilling for cabinetry door handles, the end result will be something to take pride in every time you enter your kitchen or bathroom. Invest in the materials that are needed to drill the holes the correct way; then you will not have to take the necessary steps to  fix crooked cabinetry door handles.

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