Skip to Content

How to Install Long Drawer Pulls without a Template

Installing cabinet hardware can be intimidating, especially for non-standard sizes. Here’s how to install long drawer pulls without a template, and without wrecking your new cabinets.

I am loving my new kitchen, and one of my favorite parts is all the big drawers. When I was trying to design the kitchen makeover, I put a lot of thought into what kind of cabinet setup I wanted, and finally decided I wanted as many drawers as possible, rather than lower cabinets.

A kitchen with all drawers instead of lower cabinets.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

I’ve never regretted that decision, but with it came the need to figure out how to select and install the kitchen cabinet hardware. That was a whole dilemma in itself, but I finally chose these gorgeous drawer pulls in a matte champagne finish.

They’re so beautiful with an almost rose gold look, and they add a nice warm touch to the gray cabinets. These pulls came in several lengths, but I decided I wanted as many of the same length as possible, to streamline the linear look of the drawers.

I chose the 3.8 inch handles for the small drawers, and alllll the other bigger drawers got the 10 inch handles.

(Drawer pull sizes are usually described by the distance between screw holes. The actual size of the handle is usually slightly larger than that distance, so read descriptions carefully.)

Can I install my own oversized drawer pulls?

Now the big problem was how to install them. They don’t make templates for these! I tried making my own template but I have several different sizes of drawers, so that didn’t work. And I was worried that when all the handles were installed in the rows and columns of drawers, if any were slightly off center or unlevel, it would be super obvious.

Plus, there’s nothing scarier than drilling multiple holes in brand new cabinets!

After a bit of trial and error, I finally figured out a system for measuring the placement of long drawer pulls. The process leans heavily on one simple tool called a centering ruler, and I’ll show you how to use it.

So if you’re struggling to figure out how to install long drawer handles, I’ve got the answer for you!

How to Install Long Drawer Pulls

Bonus: this method works for any size drawer pulls as well, but it’s truly a sanity saver for anything outside of standard measurements, for which stock templates don’t exist.

How to Measure and Install Long Drawer Pulls

For the measuring part of this project, you’ll need a:

  • Centering ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Drawer pull
  • Pencil
  • Masking tape (optional)
Tools for measuring and installing long drawer pulls: pencil, drawer handle, measuring tape and centering ruler.

What is a Centering Ruler?

Let’s talk about this centering ruler for a minute. You can find them in the crafting and sewing department of your hobby store or Amazon. It should be clear, so you can easily see what’s behind it. And ideally it should be flexible, to make it easier to line up with concave areas of your drawers.

Of course you can use a regular ruler, but it requires an extra step of math with each measurement to figure out where the center of your measurement is, and what number should be at each end for the screw holes.

For me, less math leads to a better result every time, so that’s why I recommend a centering ruler for this project.

Step 1: Measure the holes on your drawer pull.

Don’t believe what the manufacturer says about the size of your drawer pull! While most are accurate, you definitely want to check the distance between screw holes before you go around measuring all those drawers.

To do this, you want to find the “on center” measurement of each hole. That means from the middle of each hole, not the edges.

I recommend using your centering ruler to do this measurement, since it will be the one you’re using to mark on the drawer. Lay your drawer pull on its side on a hard surface and put the centering ruler close to the screw holes. Adjust until the same measurement lines up with each hole. Mine lined up at 5 1/16″ on each side.

Using a centering ruler to find the width between screw holes on a long drawer handle.

That means my screw holes are actually 10 1/8″ wide, but really we want to remember where the marks are on the ruler. You can use a sharpie to mark each side, so you don’t have to remember. Then, when you’re done with the project, wipe your marks off with rubbing alcohol so you don’t confuse yourself on a future project.

Step 2: Find the center of the width of the drawer.

Now you’ll use your measuring tape to find the total measurement of the drawer front width. If you have inlaid drawers, you just need the inside measurement, as shown here:

Using a measuring tape to find the width of the drawer before installing long drawer pulls.

Whatever the total width is, divide that number in half and mark that point. That’s the actual center of your drawer front. This mark is important because it’s where you’ll anchor your centering ruler in the next step.

Measuring the center of an oversized kitchen drawer to install long drawer pulls.

Make this mark in pencil because you’ll eventually erase it at the end of your project.

Step 3: Use the centering ruler to mark the width of holes to drill on the drawer.

Now that you have the center point marked, lay your centering ruler on it so that the 0 in the middle of the ruler intersects that point. Then mark a vertical line above each point on the left and right side that you’ve measured for the width of your screw holes. (Remember mine was 5 1/16″.)

Marking the spots where holes will be drilled in a drawer for handles.

Step 4: Use the centering ruler to mark the height of the holes.

You’ve marked the width of the holes, and now you just need to find the center of the height as well.

At each of the left and right vertical marks, turn your centering ruler on its side and take note of when the ruler gets centered, with the same measurement above and below the 0. Make a horizontal pencil mark, crossing the vertical line you made in step 3.

Using a centering ruler to find the vertical center of a drawer front for installing drawer handles.

Now X marks the spot!

Step 5: Mark each drawer with tape to check your measurements.

If “measure twice, cut once” is good, then marking and visualizing is even better. This step is optional, but I highly recommend it if you are lining up several drawer sets together.

This was such a big and daunting project, I decided to go the extra mile and verify all my measurements before drilling a single hole. I did this by stretching a piece of tape between each hole mark where the pulls would be. That way I could stand back and make sure everything lined up visually.

Tape pieces mark the spots where drawer pulls will be added to new kitchen cabinets

Once I was happy with the overall effect, it was time to start drilling holes!

How to Install Drawer Pulls

For the Installation part of this project, you’ll need a drill with a 3/16″ bit (or whatever bit size matches the width of your hardware screws) and a screwdriver.

When installing long drawer pulls, finding the right placement and accurately measuring and marking are really the hardest parts. Once you’ve got that down from the steps above, you simply drill a hole on each x-marks-the-spot, screw in your handles, and you’re done.

As easy as that sounds, let me offer a few words of advice. First, always drill from the front of the drawer to the back, or inside. That keeps the wood from splintering on the face of the drawer.

You can also cover the spot with a bit of masking tape to protect the wood, as long as you pay attention to where your mark is. (You may want to place the tape on the drawer before measuring and marking.

Secondly, be sure you’re holding the drill level and straight on to the drawer front. (Good drills usually have a little level bubble on the top of them so you can check.) If you drill at an angle, it makes it harder to line up the pulls evenly once you screw them in.

Finally, check out my full tutorial on installing cabinet hardware for more details, as well as tips and tricks on making installation easier and less scary.

Long drawer pulls accentuate the wide drawers along the bottom of the kitchen.

Don’t be scared of long drawer pulls! They are so handy and pretty, and you can definitely do this, as long as you take a little time to properly measure.

A Note on Selecting Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

I’ve had a few questions since sharing my kitchen makeover, like is there a rule of thumb for cabinet hardware? Is there a standard placement of cabinet handles? And how many pulls on a 30 inch drawer? Here are my thoughts.

First of all, you can do whatever you want with your kitchen hardware. It’s your kitchen after all! Pick what you like and don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong. But if you’re wanting a little guidance, here goes…

Drawer Pull Sizes

To make your hardware a feature of your cabinets, you want it to take up some space. For wide drawers, I like to see a handle about a third the width of the drawer. So, for a 30″ drawer, a 10″ handle is about right. Otherwise, you could use two of the smaller standard size handles for a pretty impact as well.

However, you might want to think about how you use your drawers. I generally use one hand to open them, so I wanted a handle that I could grab anywhere along the face of the drawer.

Cabinet Hardware Placement

As for standard placement, I think it’s more common to center them vertically, as I did, but you could also install them along the top edge. You may need longer screws if you’re attaching them to a beefier part of the frame.

And finally, it looks like my handles are no longer available in the matte champagne finish, but I do see that they come in a lovely champagne bronze instead. This is a less rosy color that looks more like a soft golden brass. If you’re trying to select hardware, don’t be afraid to order several types, try them out in your space, and return whatever you don’t love. This is a big decision!

Gray kitchen cabinets with matte champagne hardware

Speaking of big decisions, this is a good time to think about the investment you’re making in your daily life. Don’t buy cheap handles that will shift or chip easily. You’ll be using these every day, and you want them to feel good in your hand and last a long time. It’s worth it to spend a little extra to get good quality cabinet hardware!

ABOUT MEREDITH


Creating a color-filled life. Conquering my little world one DIY project at a time. With lots of coffee and chocolate. Albuquerque NM. Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Facebook