Continuous J or C-Pull for Cabinet Doors
Whatever happened to the 1980s style kitchen cabinet door that had the continuous wood or aluminum “C” or “J” pulls along the edges for handles? Finding a cabinet supply company that sells this style of handle hardware is difficult. Recently I had a customer who needed a few doors to accommodate a remodeling project that had the aluminum style doors in the existing kitchen.
My search for this product inspired me to write this article, because these door pulls are a hard item to locate. But don’t fret, because I had some success in locating several suppliers who stock the wood C-pull in oak or maple and also in the aluminum finish. They are spread out thin in the search results of Google’s rankings. I did find a few places to share with you.
Cabinet Suppliers Who Sell This Hardware for Cabinet Doors
Rockler Power Tools, Hardware, Wood supplies
Loads of Cabinet Making Items
Outwater Hardware is a Wholesale National
Distributor of Specialty Hardware Items
CDM Cabinet Hardware
Your Online Source for Kitchen
Cabinet Knobs and Handles
It took several searches to find these companies. At first, I thought that I would not be able to find any place that stocked the items I was looking for.
1980s Style Kitchen Cabinets That Had Continuous Door Pulls
Florida is where I learned how to fabricate cabinetry. My apprenticeship began in the early 80s where I was hired as a general laborer in a small family owned and operated cabinet manufacturing facility. This is where I was first introduced to the modern sleek European style cabinetry that had the continuous oak or aluminum c-pull which were available in three different sizes, 1 ¼”- 1 3/8” and 1 ½” heights. We would purchase the material in lots of a thousand linear feet or more. The real wood material choices were maple and oak. They were available in unfinished or pre-finished lengths that we would cut to the sizes of the kitchen, vanity or laundry room doors.
At that time the Formica door was the trend and these pulls were being attached to the doors in massive amounts of linear footage. Large cabinet manufactures were pumping out kitchens, vanities and laundry room cupboards for high rises that were being built all along the beaches in North, South, East and West Florida. Many of them were designed and decorated with the continuous door hardware.
Some of the suppliers we would order from that carried the handles were Imagination & Company, Trend Supply, Tech Products, Dixie Plywood and Meyer Laminates.
An alternative to laminating the particle board with plastic laminate for the doors was using melamine. Many kitchen fabricators who were mass producing cabinetry were using the melamine because the board was manufactured with a hard shell coating on both sides. So, cabinet shops could have the pre-finished materials shipped to their facility, ready to cut to size, edge band and adhere c-pulls on the doors. The cost of using the material in comparison to the fabricators laminating flake boards with plastic laminate on both sides was considerably less. Many of the doors that have the continuous pulls on them were made using the melamine material. During this period of time, almond, white and antique white doors were the popular colors.
The fad continued into the mid 1990s and then a change began to happen when Thermofoil doors were introduced to the market. As the raised panel doors began to increase in popularity so did the raised panel natural wood door styles. Eventually the once popular mica cabinetry door that had the oak, maple or aluminum continuous handles began to die out.
Possible Obstacles You May Discover When Searching for a Material Match
1) The exact height continuous pull may not be available.
2) The supply company might have a minimum linear footage that must be purchased.
3) Your Melamine door color could be difficult to match if you need a new one.
4) The color (“shade” or “tone”) of the oak or maple may not match your existing C-pull.
5) The position of the groove on the existing door may not match the set back distance of the spline.
How to Attach Continuous Cabinet Pulls
There are a couple of different ways that you attach the hardware onto the cabinet doors. Which method you use for attaching the pulls will depend upon the material type you’re working with.
Cut the old handle off, if you’re reusing the existing door, with a table saw.
You will have to make a groove in the cabinet door, if your making a new door, for the spline that is formed onto the continuous pulls or cut the spline off. If you make a groove in the door, it will be necessary to trim some of the end of the spline off of the pull on both ends. The groove can be made with a table saw or special router table set up.
If you are using the aluminum style, the spline must be left on because there really is not glue that will attach it securely to the wood doors.
To secure the oak or maple C-pull, you put yellow wood glue in the grove of the door or on the edge, if you have removed the spline, and then tap the handle on the door using a rubber mallet. Align the edges perfectly flush and then use two bar clamps to tighten the joint. Leave the clamps on for at least a half hour. The doors should not be handled for at least 24 hours while the glue is drying.
It has been interesting to see how the trend of the continuous J-pull cabinet door styles has faded away. However, there is still an occasional demand for the hardware because suppliers are still stocking the items. C-pull seemed to be the most popular style that was used on kitchen cabinet doors in the 1980s to mid 1990s. So, this particular style may be more readily available in a wood finish or aluminum finish than the J-pull is. If you have any reservations about attaching the handles yourself, take the materials to your local cabinet manufacture and they will be able to do the job for you.