October 3, 2013

Kitchen Handles

The Challenge: Drill pilot holes for handles into your new, pristine, flawless kitchen cabinet doors without messing up or having a panic attack.
The Complication: Choose handles not specifically designed for your cabinet doors. I mean, why use Ikea pulls for our Ikea cabinets? What fun would that be? Having screws supplied that are the right length to attach the handles properly? Pshaw! 

Further Complication: Choose handles that attach from the front. As you may or may not have noticed, most drawer pulls and cabinet handles are threaded on the backside, the hidden side that comes in contact with the drawer or cabinet. They stay in place with screws inserted from the inside of the drawer or cabinet. To anchor the pull or handle, hold the pull in place while tightening the screw. Voila. Pulls and handles that cannot strip loose from the cabinet.
I love our Ikea cabinets. However, the doors are only particle board. We worried the screws that came with our chosen handles would dislodge from the particle board given enough time and use. The Hubbers suggested replacing them with black oxide machine screws long enough to stick out on the insides of the cabinets where we could anchor them with nuts. Great idea! But good luck finding said parts. Save yourself the run around. Go directly to Fastenal. They have what you need. And, these particular parts - at the time we ordered them - are sold separately. No need to order a bulk package of 2,5000 when you only need 60.

Before ordering the black oxide pieces, we purchased regular ol' shiny silver colored machine screws at the hardware store. Three different lengths to check against our cabinets. I was shooting for a length that would protrude on the inside of the cabinet doors just far enough to take a washer and nut and have the nut sit flush with the end of the screw. Too long and there'd be screws jutting out, ugly and a potential source of injury; too short and they wouldn't anchor fully. 

Now, there are these fancy-dancy things called acorn nuts that cap the end of the screw. But (1) they aren't available in black oxide and (2) they cost 10 times as much as regular nuts. We went with regular nuts because (1) I wanted a uniform look with all the parts in black oxide finish and (2) I'm cheap. Er, frugal. We went with pan head screws #6-32, 7/8 inch long. Absolutely perfect fit with our handles and cabinets. Oh, and there's a Fastenal store in town. They didn't stock the black oxide parts, but did order them for me. No shipping fee, thank you very much (ok, ok. cheap).
Now, how the heck to drill holes in the cabinets without giving myself a heart attack? After I'm disgusted with myself for avoiding it for so long, that is. Simple. After deciding where to place the handles (I taped them to the doors with painter's tape & moved them around until I was satisfied with the positioning), make a jig or key. Our cabinet doors have a raised panel. I cut a piece of cardboard to fit the panel and cover the width of the flat section of the door. Then I measured - and measured again - to place the holes for the handles. I transferred these measurements to the cardboard jig and drilled holes in it (with a 1/8 inch bit). Then, use painter's tape to cover the section of the door to be drilled, line up the jig, and use a sharpie to draw the holes onto the tape.
Be absolutely sure to hold a block of wood tightly behind the door while drilling. It helps prevent the particle board from crumbling messily.
This is the back of the door where the block of wood slipped.
This is what it looks like when it's done properly.
Here's what I mean about the nut sitting flush with the end of the screw.
No bit of the screw sticks out beyond the nut. Yippee!
And they actually line up nicely. All hail the cardboard jig.

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