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Install drawer pulls before or after putting fronts on the stack of drawers?

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Forum topic by shwoodnt posted 07-23-2016 09:02 PM 1047 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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shwoodnt

20 posts in 191 days


07-23-2016 09:02 PM

The bubble isn’t perfectly between the lines for three drawer banks I’ve built.

Seems to me that if I attach the drawer pulls in the center of the drawer fronts before putting the fronts on the drawers, and, because of the slight leans, the fronts have to stagger slightly on the way up, the pulls would too but be more obviously out of line because they are a nice dark sapele rectangular pull on brightly colored or natural wood fronts.

So I’m guessing I should install the fronts first, then add the pulls using a level beside the pulls. Then the pulls would be aligned vertically with each other, although not exactly in the center of the drawers.

I have measured the distance from the top of each drawer front to where the center of the pull’s height would be so the screws go through the box and front and into the pulls. I’ve also about an inch of extra wood on the pulls outside of where the screws will enter the pulls, so the slight stagger of the fronts will not put the screws outside of the wood pulls.

Do I have this figured right?


7 replies so far

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clin

514 posts in 464 days


#1 posted 07-23-2016 10:17 PM

I’m not sure I follow what your problem is. Are the cabinets not square?

If not, I can’t image they’d be so far off that if you centered the handles that the drawers would be so staggered that you could possible see it.

If the cabs are not square, and for some reason it is too late to shim them square, I assume the sides are still parallel to each other. If so, I see no reason to stagger the drawer fronts. Keep the sides lined up. Then what you would have is the reveal along the top of the top drawer, and along the bottom of the bottom drawer will be a little uneven. But with what appears to be full overlay, you wouldn’t see this anyway unless you make a point to get on your hands and knees and look.

Keep in mind, in the end, it is how they look that matters, not whether a drawer edge is perfectly plumb. Level matters for things like counter tops so spills don’t run off the counter fast, or things roll away. But otherwise it is how it looks, not where a bubble sits in a level.

Here’s details on how I do it. I do NOT install cabinets for a living, so I’m sure the pros do it much more simply than this. But I get good results this way.

I drill the holes for the pulls in the drawer fronts before mounting. Then I mount the drawer fronts working from the bottom up. I use screws specific for this with the large diameter, low profile heads (not sure the name). BEFORE mounting the fronts, I drill 5/16” holes in the drawer boxes for the screws that hold the fronts to the boxes. These 5/16” holes are much larger than the screw, but will be completely covered by the screw head, no matter how far off center the screw ends up in the hole.

After clamping a drawer front in place and getting it as close as possible to where I want it. I use a vix bit to center a pilot hole in the drawer front (drilling from inside the drawer box into the front). I want the screw centered in the 5/16” holes so I have some adjustment room.

Once I get all the fronts mounted, I eyeball things and make any small adjustments if needed. Sometime splitting the different on a small error. Once I’m satisfied, I then drill the hole for the pulls through the drawer box. Remember, I already drilled the drawer front for the pull. This way the drawer-pull screw pulls the drawer front tight to the drawer box. When opening a drawer, the force pulls on the box not just the front.

-- Clin

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shwoodnt

20 posts in 191 days


#2 posted 07-23-2016 10:34 PM

Thanks Clin

That all makes sense.

If I am out of square a little with the carcass, it may leave a little reveal at the upper left and bottom right too, or the upper right and bottom left, I think.

Yes, the bubble says the vertical walls are not directly vertical. But the metal drawer slides all work, so the two carcass walls can’t be too far out of parallel.

I just haven’t done this before, so I was anticipating a problem.

I’ve seen your technique of using the wider screw whole and then using a narrower screw with a wider head.

What prevents the drawer front from sliding around if those screws loosen a little?

Your technique has the four screw holes aimed directly out through the box into the front, right? As opposed to being screwed diagonally through the corner of the box which is another way I’ve seen it done on a video.

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mako1

20 posts in 262 days


#3 posted 07-23-2016 11:53 PM

I think your overthinking it.Attach the drawer fronts for even reveal and attach the drawer pulls centered. Where is the problem ? After 40 some years of cabinet and furniture making the only time I use a level is when installing cabinets. Not when building them. Everything should be square when building.

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clin

514 posts in 464 days


#4 posted 07-24-2016 12:21 AM



Thanks Clin

That all makes sense.

If I am out of square a little with the carcass, it may leave a little reveal at the upper left and bottom right too, or the upper right and bottom left, I think.

Thats what I thought you were saying, so we’re on the same page.


Yes, the bubble says the vertical walls are not directly vertical. But the metal drawer slides all work, so the two carcass walls can t be too far out of parallel.

I just haven t done this before, so I was anticipating a problem.

I don’t have years of experience on this either. But while some attention to details is needed, it certainly doesn’t require things to be accurate to 0.001”. I’ve examined my own kitchen cabinets (not my build) as a guide to answer some questions. I’m always surprised at some less than perfect thing I’ve spotted. that I only noticed (after years), because I was looking at it very closely. Point is, you see every little imperfection while building something. But while striving for excellence is usually a good thing, the small imperfections will blend into the whole and in the end, the total will be quite well done.


I’ve seen your technique of using the wider screw whole and then using a narrower screw with a wider head.

What prevents the drawer front from sliding around if those screws loosen a little?

If you drill the holes for the pull through the drawer box after you attach the front, those holes have little clearance, so even if the 4 mounting screws loosened, the screws for the pull, would keep things from moving around.


Your technique has the four screw holes aimed directly out through the box into the front, right? As opposed to being screwed diagonally through the corner of the box which is another way I’ve seen it done on a video.

- shwoodnt

Yes, that’s correct. Screws go straight forward. I’ve seen the angled approach. I’m not sure why it is done that way. My guess is it is something that is quicker, not necessarily better.

As mako1 said, you are overthinking it. But I get that. It’s your first time and you don’t want to screw it up right as you’re about to cross the goal line. So think about it all you want. I assume this is a personal job, so take your time, think it through, take 10X longer than a pro, and be prepared to fix something if you screw up.

That’s the cool thing about making this stuff yourself, if you completely screw something up, you can make another. So don’t be too afraid.

FYI, triple check those mounting screws. Do a test piece with a scarp of drawer box material and drawer front. You don’t want the screw to be too long.

-- Clin

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shwoodnt

20 posts in 191 days


#5 posted 07-24-2016 12:44 AM

Thanks mako1 and Clin.

Will do.

Regarding 10x longer than a pro, no kidding.

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shwoodnt

20 posts in 191 days


#6 posted 08-03-2016 07:52 PM

Thanks guys. It worked out.

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clin

514 posts in 464 days


#7 posted 08-03-2016 09:36 PM

Looks good.

-- Clin

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