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How to Attach Drawer Fronts

Take the headache out of lining up and installing drawer fronts on your next woodworking project.

One of the most frustrating parts of any build can be attaching your drawer fronts. You want to make sure they are perfectly lined up so the reveal all around is the same.

But then how do you secure it without messing up that reveal?

Whether you are installing overlay drawer fronts or inset drawers. These steps will have you installing drawer fronts perfectly in no time!

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Tall nightstand with inset drawer fronts showing the perfect reveal.

Need more ideas and things to build? Check out all my woodworking plans or learn how to build your own cabinets.

The Easiest Way to Line Up Drawer Fronts

Before you attach drawer fronts, you will need to install your drawer boxes. You can read this post for tips and tricks on how to install drawer slides.

STEP 1- Mark where drawer pulls go

Mark where the holes in the front of your drawer front for your pulls/knobs will go. A cabinet hardware jig like this makes it easy to add knobs and pulls to all projects.

Clamp the jig centered on the drawer front. With the drill bit in your drill, drill a tiny indent to mark the placement of the hole, but don’t drill all the way through yet.

If you fully drill out the hole, it may have some wiggle room when you attach the drawer front later.

Marking placement for the drawer pulls with the Kreg cabinet hardware jig.

Drawer Pull Placement

Where you put the drawer pulls on your drawer front is personal preference. Some have a more traditional look and others more modern.

Here is a diagram showing some of the most common drawer pull placement options:

Four diagrams of different placement options for drawer pulls on drawer fronts.

STEP 2- Temporarily attach drawer front

Line the drawer front up on your cabinet. Make sure to check the reveal all the way around the drawer.

For inset drawer fronts: Use cards or other thin spacers to hold the drawer fronts inside the opening at the correct reveal.

Lining up an inset drawer front with a small wood space.

For overlay drawer fronts: measure the reveal on your face frame so it is even all the way around.

Secure the drawer front to the drawer box with self tapping screws through the indents or markings on your drawer fronts.

I prefer to use self-tapping screws because then you do not have to pre-drill the hole. The pre-drilled hole may have some wiggle to it when you attach the drawer front through it. This could mess up your alignment.

Lining up the drawer fronts and temporarily attaching it with screws.

How to Install Drawer Fronts

STEP 1- Attach drawer front from inside drawer box

With the drawer front temporarily attached and perfectly lined up, open the drawer.

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Permanently attach the drawer front from the inside of the drawer with screws. Make sure the screws are not too long that they poke through the drawer front.

  • For 3/4″ thick drawer fronts with 3/4″ thick drawer boxes, use 1 1/4″ screws
  • For 3/4″ thick drawer fronts with 1/2″ thick drawer boxes, use 1″ screws

Make sure the screws go into the stiles of the door fronts if your center panel is recessed.

For small (and shallow) drawers, use 2 screws, one on each side. For large (and deep) drawers, I like to use use 4 screws in the four corners of the drawer box.

Attaching the drawer front to the drawer box with screws from the inside.

STEP 2- Attach drawer pulls

Remove the two screws from the front of the drawer that were temporarily holding it on.

Drill holes for your drawer pulls through where they were located. Drill the holes completely through the drawer front and drawer box.

Drilling holes for the drawer pulls with the Kreg jig.

Insert hardware screws into the holes from the inside of the drawer.

Place the pulls on the front of the drawer onto the screws and tighten to secure.

Attaching drawer pull to the top drawer.

Close your drawers and repeat!

And now you have perfectly lined up drawer fronts on all your projects.

One section of the built in desk cabinets with the drawer fronts attached with pulls.

How to Install Drawer Fronts without Pulls

If you have drawers that you want to use without drawer fronts, how can you line them up to install without screws?

DIY bathroom vanity with two drawers on the bottom with no pulls.

Line up the drawer front with the proper reveal. Then you can use any of the following to temporarily attach the drawer fronts.

  • Heavy duty double sided tape
  • Hot glue
  • Clamps (attach drawer fronts before the top is installed)

Once the drawer front is temporarily attached, you will open the drawer and permanently attach it with screws from the inside of the drawer box the same way.

This will also work with drawers where the pulls are not lined up over the drawer box.

Wall mounted desk with inset drawer fronts and no drawer pulls.

Happy building!

-Kati with picture of blog author Kati