A Complete Guide on Proper Cabinet Knob Placement

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Installing knobs may seem like a small task, but did you know that one wrong placement can dramatically affect your home’s interior design? No matter how many beautiful cabinets you have, your design style will look unbalanced if you don’t place the hardware correctly. 

Luckily, our home improvement experts came up with this guide to save you from costly DIY mishaps. 

Importance of Correct Cabinetry Knob Placement

You might be surprised, but updating your cabinet knobs and pulls is a simple tweak that can really modernize your space. If you’re leaning towards a contemporary vibe, take it from me: getting the placement of your cabinet hardware spot-on can dramatically enhance the room’s overall aesthetic. It’s those little details that can elevate your space to something truly special.

You should also remember that once you drill a hole for your cabinet knobs, there’s no turning back the easy way. The chances of ruining your drawer front are very likely as well. The cabinet hardware placement must be properly mapped out, or else your sight will burn with misaligned and crooked-looking cabinet doors. 

Different Kinds of Cabinet Knobs and Pulls

Knobs

There’s no denying that the most common cabinet hardware out there is knobs. Unlike other gears, cabinet knobs are much easier to install. You don’t need many tools for this since they are typically installed with just one screw.

knob placement for drawers

While traditional knobs typically feature circular designs, I’ve watched manufacturers evolve and broaden their offerings to cater to more modern tastes. For those looking to give their upper cabinet doors a distinctive flair, I often suggest exploring cabinet knobs with square or hexagonal shapes. These can add a unique touch that really sets your cabinets apart.   

You can also consider installing cabinetry knobs with fancy finishes. When you shop for a cabinet knob, you’ll notice various types sold in the market, from acrylic, leather, metal, and even wood. These options are made depending on your cabinet door aesthetic requirement. 

Pulls

If you’re not keen on the good old cabinet knobs, some cabinet pulls can accommodate your knob placement requirement. While most people install knobs in upper cabinets, tab pulls are designed for base cabinets or the lower drawer panel. 

cabinet drawer pull

However, there are no same rules that dictate exactly what placement cabinetry hardware should be. If you want a drawer front that pulls vertically, there’s no shame in choosing this gear. One thing you should consider in this knob placement is its variety of options. They come in many types of finishes and sizes, so it’s quite daunting for a DIY newbie to handle. 

In my years of woodworking, I’ve learned that the real trick to properly installing cabinet hardware lies in balancing its proportion with the doors or drawers. Below, I’ll guide you through the nuances of handling various cabinet layouts and hardware types, drawing from the collective wisdom of myself and my experienced colleagues.

Cup Pull

Cup pulls are the kind of cabinet hardware installed horizontally on lower cabinets. If you look closely, you’ll see the cup pulls are shaped distinctively to accommodate your fingers underneath as you pull the drawers out. 

cup pulls

Besides being a popular option for lower cabinets, cup pulls can easily blend with different interior styles. This kind of cabinet hardware is popular to many DIY professionals not only due to its versatility, but it can also add a modern touch in a bathroom or kitchen drawer front.

Finger Pull

Unlike a cabinet knob with drilling holes screwed all the way through the door, finger pulls are installed to the top or bottom edge of the cabinets. For this placement, you wouldn’t need to drill screw holes on the face of the cabinet door frame or the drawer. 

If cabinetry hardware isn’t your forte, you might come across finger pulls, often edge or tab pulls. Drawing from our collective experience, I find these pulls to be an excellent choice for homeowners striving for a cabinet look that’s both unique and minimalist.

Rails, Stiles, and Panes

Besides the hardware used for your cabinet door and drawer, you also ought to learn that you’ll deal with a certain part of cabinets during the installation. First, the horizontal part on the top and bottom corner pieces of the kitchen cabinet are called rails. Depending on the design, you can also find a door rail in the middle of the cabinet door.

cabinet rails

Another important term to remember is the door stile. You’ll find them vertically, enclosing the bottom and top rail pieces. Last but not least, the innermost part of cabinet and drawer fronts is the panels. These parts are considered the centerpiece of the door frame. However, you won’t encounter these said parts in flat-slab cabinets. 

Also Read: Wood vs Vinyl Window Replacement

Cabinet Knob Placement for Doors

Knobs

Considering how versatile this hardware is, a knob placement can be on both doors and drawers. All you need to do is mount the cabinet knob over the stile and place it on the other side of the door hinges

When it comes to marking the placement for knobs on upper cabinets, I usually recommend measuring about two to three inches up from the bottom corner of the cabinet door. As for base cabinets, you’ll want to measure roughly 2.5 to 3 inches down from the upper corner of the door. This is a technique that’s served me and my fellow DIY experts well over the years.

Pulls

Cabinet pulls placement and installation during your kitchen cabinet restoration are slightly complicated compared to knobs. Why? Because they’re mainly inserted into the cabinetry using two screws. If one of those fasteners is loose, the cabinetry hardware may wiggle and damage its cabinet construction.

cabinet door pull

If you don’t want that to happen, I advise doing a test placement before the installation. When drilling a screw, it should be pinned 2.5 to 3 inches above the bottom corner of the door. The same measurements should be applied for the top rail, except the screw must be below it.

Cup Pull

For tall wall cabinets, installing cup pulls can be tricky. One of the options I can recommend is putting them in the center to make the overall drawer look balanced. For the other method, you can consider top rail installation for a more distinct design. 

The placement for this kind of hardware is similar to how you’d install regular cabinet pulls. They require two screws for fastening, so it’s best to drill them in properly to avoid unintended damage to your cabinetry.

Finger Pull

You may not know it, but finger pulls are often placed at the corner of the door if you’re working on upper cabinets. Be mindful of the door hinge as you’ll be needing to install the pull hardware at its opposite side. For the lower cabinets, the finger pulls should be placed on the top corner of the door. 

cabinet door finger pull

Some of these placements can be a little too typical for a modern home. So if you’re interested in adding some edge on your cabinet designs, I urge you to install finger pulls closely at the door’s top edges to create an optical effect that there’s long hardware connecting the two doors. 

Cabinet Knob Placement for Drawers

Knobs

Unlike the knob placement for upper cabinets, installing cabinetry hardware on drawers can be a bit tricky, especially in sizing considerations. You’ll have no issues when dealing with drawers under 24 inches because all you need to do is to place cabinet knobs in the center panel.

If you’re up for some contemporary touches, you can try positioning the cabinet knob in the upper frame of the drawer vertically. 

cabinet knobs

In my experience, for drawers that exceed 24 inches in width, a single knob just doesn’t quite cut it for a balanced look, which is quite different from installation on a door frame. In situations like these, I often recommend installing two knobs to achieve a more visually appealing and natural aesthetic. These knobs should be positioned evenly on each side portion of the drawer for symmetry.

Pulls

For a seamless and clean aesthetic, drawers smaller than 24 inches should be installed with pulls in the center of the drawer panel. Like cup pulls, the rule of thumb for drawers wider than the said measure is to include two pulls into the formula. 

Cup Pull

Truth be told, cup pulls are great cabinet hardware for drawers. Their traditional placement is often in the center panel of the slab doors. However, I don’t recommend cup pulls if your cabinet drawers are wider than typical sizes.

cabinet drawer cup pull

The hardware placement for cup pulls also won’t suit long cabinet width and bin pulls. But if you really need to install it on wide base cabinets, we suggest installing two cup pulls with even allotted space in-between. The two-pulls rule applies for a drawer front sized around 30 inches. 

Finger Pull

To achieve full functionality of your cabinetry with finger pulls, always go for center placement. This type of design is common, but a classic touch will always serve you well in the long run. Another idea you can try is to fasten them on the top edges. It’s a typically seen design for pulls as well. 

Cabinet Knob Placement for Appliances

If you plan to integrate your new appliances into your cabinetry, you’d have to consider the knob placements as well. I don’t recommend using regular hardware for this installation because it’s inevitable that they’re not designed to carry the mass of appliance doors. 

chest of drawers

When you go shopping for knobs and pulls, you’ll notice that there’s a section dedicated to appliance pulls. Like regular ones, this type of hardware varies depending on the appliances in question. For example, the appliance pull for refrigerators may seem like typical hardware, but they’re obviously sturdier and a lot thicker in construction. 

Given the heavier doors on these appliances, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of using sturdier screws of the correct size for a secure installation. This approach isn’t just for fridges but applies to dishwashers as well. Though not as hefty, choosing the right hardware for them is crucial to prevent any potential damage to your cabinetry down the line.

To reduce damages, I suggest choosing the ideal grade for your plywood cabinet

What is the Best Size for Cabinet Pulls?

The best size for your cabinet pull ultimately depends on how big your cabinetry is. Like any other home improvement construction, small or big, the aesthetic balance is still one of the keys to a great design outcome. If you want to make your cabinetry pleasing to the eyes, I suggest getting pulls that are ⅓ the size of your cabinets.

cabinet pull

If you did your calculations and the hardware still seems a bit too large for the cabinet, you can proceed to a lower sizing around ¼ the size of the cabinetry. Keep in mind that it’ll still depend on your measurement and judgment. 

Tips and Tricks for a Perfect Cabinet Knob Installation

Before working on any power tool for drilling screws into the cabinet placements, I recommend using safety gears to avoid dangerous mishaps [1]. Besides that, always consider the size of your cabinetry before selecting any hardware to install. You’ll find that proper measurements and proportions can save you money and time in the long run.

Next, if you’re planning to add more than a single knob, I suggest marking portions into thirds for more accurate placements. For cup pulls, it’s always wise to install them within your natural reach. That way, it wouldn’t appear awkward and feel more comfortable to use. 

Also check: 

FAQ

Where should pulls be placed on kitchen cabinets?

The pulls should be placed in the stile on the kitchen cabinets. If you’re working on upper cabinetry, the screw hole should be drilled 2.5 inches above the door’s bottom. On the contrary, lower cabinets should have an upper hole vertically aligned and 2.5 inches below the top of the door. 

Where do you put knobs on shaker cabinet doors?

Knobs on the shaker cabinet door should be placed on the canter stile. It should be located halfway up the shaker door’s stile. The same requirements apply when you choose to install pulls as well. Place it just two to three inches above or below the corners for easy access and natural reach.

Should kitchen handles be vertical or horizontal?

Kitchen handles should be vertical according to the general rule of thumb. By doing this, the functionality of your cabinet pulls is maximized. It makes cabinet doors open easily as well. Meanwhile, horizontal hardware installations are often used for pull-out drawers as they’re more pleasing to the eyes. 

Conclusion

Starting with small steps is the cornerstone of tackling any big project. Now that you’re equipped with the insider knowledge on cabinet knob placement, I strongly encourage you to start gathering everything you’ll need for this endeavor. It might seem daunting initially, but the secret to pulling off a successful cabinet remodel is simply to begin. So don’t hesitate—once you get going, I’m confident you’ll handle it beautifully!

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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