How to Measure Drawer Pulls

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Changing out the pulls on the drawers of your vanity, kitchen cabinets, or dresser is one of the quickest and easiest ways to give your space a fresh face. But one size does not fit all! Learn about the different sizes of drawer pulls and how to measure for the perfect fit. 

How to Measure New Drawer Pulls

Some brand new drawers will have pre-drilled holes for mounting drawer pulls, but most will not. This lets you choose the location and orientation of the pulls, to get exactly the look you want. The trick is to keep things proportional. 

Measure the length and width of the cabinet door or drawer front. 

  • Use two pulls for extra-wide drawers. Anything wider than 36 inches should have two drawer pulls. Make sure they are the same distance from the side of the drawer. 
  • For horizontally mounted pulls, keep them to less than half the width of the drawer. 
  • Vertically mounted pulls should be less than one-third the height of the drawer or cabinet. 

How to Measure Replacement Drawer Pulls

If you’re swapping old hardware for new, it’s easiest to use the pre-existing holes. Here’s how to get it just right. 

  1. Evaluate the current pulls. Spend a few days paying attention to what you like and don’t like about the existing drawer pulls. Maybe they feel crowded and cramped, and you want more room. Maybe they’re perfectly shaped, and only the color is wrong. Know what problem you’re trying to solve with the drawer pull facelift and you’re more likely to be happy with the end result. 
  2. Prepare storage. Whether you plan to keep the existing drawer pulls, move them somewhere else in your house, or give them away, it’s a good idea to store the screws and pulls together. Before you start this project, grab an old plastic storage container with a tight fitting lid. 
  3. Measure the projection. Projection tells you how far the drawer pull will stick out. This is what dictates how much room there is for your hand. Measure from the front of the cabinet or drawer to the back of the drawer pull. Make a note of this measurement. If you want more clearance, shop for pulls with a larger projection. 
  4. Remove the old drawer pulls. Most drawer pulls are attached with two screws. Use a screwdriver to unscrew the drawer pull from the inside of the drawer. Place the screws and the pull in the plastic storage container. 
  5. Measure the center-to-center distance. The most important measurement for replacing drawer pulls is the center-to-center distance. Use a tape measure to find the distance from the center of one hole to the center of the other hole, and write this measurement down. 
  6. Convert to millimeters. Some drawer pulls are measured in inches, while other models are measured in centimeters. It’s best to have both measurements handy. If you’ve measured in inches, multiply the measurement by 24.5 to convert it to millimeters. You can also use an online conversion calculator
  7. Shop for new pulls. Using your measurements, see what your options are. It’s handy to have one of the old drawer pulls handy, as well. Even if you’re looking for a totally different style, it’s a good way to check your measurements. If the holes on your new drawer pulls line up with the holes on the old drawer pulls, you’re good to go! If not, better choose another product. 
  8. Store the old pulls. Hang onto the old pulls for at least a few weeks until you’re sure the new pulls are an improvement.

See more of our cabinet hardware guides:

How to Change the Size of Drawer Pulls

While it’s easiest to use pre-existing holes to mount new hardware, sometimes that isn’t practical. If you didn’t like the placement of the old pulls or have your heart set on drawer pulls of a different dimension, here’s what to do. 

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  1. Consider a backplate. Drawer pulls with backplates look elegant and have the added benefit of covering up existing holes, with no need for repair. This is a great solution if you’re increasing the width of your drawer pulls. 
  2. Choose a wood putty. If you plan to stain the drawer front, choose a color that is close to your desired shade. You can also use a stainable wood putty, but results may vary. If you’re painting or lacquering the drawer front, any wood putty will work. Grab a product that comes in a tube with a tip small enough to insert into the drawer pull hole. 
  3. Fill the old holes with wood putty. Insert the tip of the tube into the drawer pull hole (from the front) and place your finger over the back of the hole. Squeeze the wood putty into the hole as you pull the tip out, completely filling the space. 
  4. Remove excess. Use a putty knife to scrape across the surface of the hole in the front and back, removing any excess wood filler. You can also use a razor blade or an old gift card. The important thing is to have an even, flat surface. 
  5. Wait for the filler to dry. Read the instructions on the package and don’t rush this step. Most fillers take between two and eight hours to dry. 
  6. Repeat if needed. If there are any gaps or bubbles in the wood filler coverage, add more wood filler. Remove the excess, and wait for the putty to dry completely before moving on. 
  7. Sand. Use fine grit sanding paper to smooth the surface of the putty. It should be completely even with the surface of the drawer. Wipe off any dust. 
  8. Refinish. Use paint, stain or lacquer to refinish the drawer front. Then, drill new holes to suit your brand new hardware. 

What Are Standard Drawer Pull Sizes? 

Some drawer pulls are measured in inches, while others are measured in millimeters. The most common center-to-center measurements for standard sized drawers are: 

  • Three inches
  • Four inches
  • 96 millimeters
  • 128 millimeters

Drawer Pull Alternatives

Classic handle-shaped drawer pulls will never go out of style, but the shape isn’t right for every drawer. Specialty drawers, pull-out cutting boards, and garbage can storage are some of the reasons you might want a different shaped drawer pull. Here are some other options to consider when a drawer pull just won’t work. 

Knobs

For small drawers or tight spaces, a single knob may be more practical than a drawer pull. 

Bin Pulls

Bin pulls are perfect for cabinets that store trash and recycling. Visually, they differentiate these locations from the rest of your cabinets, making them easier for guests to locate. They add contrast and dimension to your kitchen, as well as looking great. 

T-bar pulls

Most drawer pulls are mounted via two screws. T-bar pulls use only one screw hole. They take some getting used to, as you must remember to put your fingers on either side of the central mount, but are a great option for small drawers. 

Conclusion

The two most important measurements for drawer pulls are center-to-center distance and projection. The drawer pulls should be proportionate to the total size of the drawer. Keep records of the dimensions and bring the old pulls with you to shop for new hardware. Consider alternatives to traditional handle-shaped drawer pulls such as knobs, bin pulls, or t-bar pulls. 

Allen runs a popular home website, and understands what it takes to educate audiences through online content. Through his focus at home, Allen developed an insatiable appetite for home improvement projects that he could do for cheap on weekends. Over the years, he has gained valuable experience, which he shares in detail in articles like How to Build A DIY Dining Room Table. His ability to clearly share these DIY ideas is a huge asset, and he is a valuable resource to the home improvement community.