Last Updated on December 27, 2013 by Kristi Linauer
I have a pretty standard system when it comes to cabinet hardware, and pretty much the only time I deviate from my standard is when I’m making my own hardware. But generally, I like to put round knobs on doors, and handles on drawers. I like the combination of two different styles of hardware, and that way just seems to make sense to me.
But what happens if your existing hardware isn’t what you want, and the holes are in the wrong place? Well, if your cabinets are painted, and you have touch up paint (or if you’re planning on completely repainting your cabinets), then the fix is quite simple.
Before I started working on John & Alice’s kitchen, every single drawer and door had a small round shiny brass knob. The holes were fine on the doors, since I planned on replacing the brass knobs with updated pewter knobs.
But I wanted to use handles on the drawers instead of knobs, so I had to do a bit of reconfiguring.
I started by using wood filler…NOT CAULK…to fill in the existing hole. I use wood filler because it’s sandable, and will result in a perfectly smooth finish. Caulk is not sandable, and it is virtually impossible to get a completely smooth finish on a flat surface with caulk.
Then I used my finger to push the wood filler into the hole and spread it around on the surface. (Now that’s the hand of a DIYer, am I right?!)
As you can see, I used quite a bit of wood filler, and I wasn’t concerned at all about it being smooth. I actually tried to build it up a bit.
Once it was completely dry (I generally let them dry overnight), I used 150 grit sandpaper to smooth the surface. Note: Always, ALWAYS be sure the wood filler is completely dry before sanding. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to sand slightly damp wood filler!
I’ve actually found that sanding in a circular motion results in the smoothest finish. I know that’s completely contrary to the “sand with the grain” instructions we’ve heard repeated over and over, but it seems to work the best for this particular purpose.
When I’m doing several drawers at once, I always seem to have at least one drawer that has a pit in it once it’s sanded.
If that happens, then I just repeat the process, using wood filler to build up right over the pit. This dries quite a bit faster than the original wood filler since it’s a thinner coat, so I can usually sand after a couple of hours.
Once everything was dry and sanded completely smooth, I primed the sanded area. Note: It’s very important to NOT skip the priming step!! If you do, the paint over the wood filler will probably have a different sheen than the rest of the drawer, and even if the drawer front is perfectly smooth, the sheen difference will draw attention to the fact that it’s a filled hole.
If the wood filler was sanded perfectly smooth, then the hole should be undetectable.
And next (obviously), I followed up with paint. The result was a perfectly smooth drawer front.
Then I was ready to drill new holes for the new handles.
And voila! I don’t think anyone would be able to tell that these drawers once had knobs right in the middle.
Of course, the same method can be used if you’d like to switch from a handle to a knob, or if you’d like to use a handle with a wider or narrower spread than the existing handles.
In other words, if you have painted cabinets (or are in the process of painting your cabinets) don’t let existing hardware holes in your cabinets limit your choices in cabinet hardware!
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
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