How to Replace Old Handles on Your Furniture Flip

Written by Jessica Mitchel

I've been flipping furniture for profit for over eight months. I like to share all of the tips, tricks, and learning lessons along the way.

January 8, 2023

Replacing the handles on a furniture piece can be a quick and easy way to instantly elevate a furniture piece. And it’s actually a very simple thing to do.

First things first, you will need to remove the old handles or knobs. To do this, you will usually need a screw driver, typically a phillips head. You can use a hand crank screw driver, electric screwdriver, or a drill with a screw head bit. You will need to open the doors or drawers and look on the backside of where the knob or handle is. You should find a screw holding the handle or knob in place. Remove the screw by moving your screwdriver in a counterclockwise direction.

I like to keep all of the old hardware, so have some container at the ready to hold all of your hardware. Keep turning the screw until the knob or handle is completely loosened. It also helps to keep a hand on the handle or knob while you are unscrewing to catch the handle once it’s fully loosened. You’ll need to do this for every handle or knob being replaced.

The next step is cleaning. I like to get a good deep cleaning under where the handles used to be. There is usually all sorts of dirt and gunk stored up there. You can check out this video on how to clean your furniture.

The next thing you’ll need to decide is what you are going to replace the old handles with. If you are replacing with a handle or knob with the same hole pattern, then your job here is pretty much done. You can move forward with paint or stain and use what’s already existing.

But… if you want to move the location of a handle or knob, or you’re using a different hole pattern, then you’ll need to fill the old hole and drill out new ones.

I like to use Kwikwood to fill in old handle holes as I’ve found it to be very durable and reliable. You can also use regular wood filler or putty. Make sure you slightly overfill the holes as the wood filler can shrink as it dries. Wait the time recommend to make sure it is fully dry before moving forward.

You will want to sand done these areas to make sure they are flush with your surface. I would recommend using a slightly higher grit for this (since I’ve taken away too much material in the past). I wouldn’t go any lower than 150 grit for this step. The goal is to make this area look seamless once painted over. Don’t be afraid to refill and do this step over as many times as needed to get a nice seamless finish between the areas. If you can see the difference without paint, then you will definitely notice it with paint. It’s better to keep doing this step now, then to have to redo it after you’ve already painted.

Once the holes are filled in and looking seamless, you’ll need to drill holes for the new handles and knobs. You will need a drill and drill bits for this step.

Do this step before you paint. I keep doing this after paint and there’s really no reason for it. Doing this before paint will make for easier cleanup and if you make a mistake it’s easier to fix now.

There are a couple of ways you can measure out the hole pattern of the handle. You can just measure between the holes and then measure on your furniture piece. You can trace the pattern onto a popsicle stick and use that as a template. Or you can just hold the handle up to the furniture piece and gauge the hole from there. I’ve used all of these methods and I don’t see any one as being better than the other.

Once you have your marks on your furniture, you’ll need to drill the holes. To choose a drill bit, I like to take the screw for the new handles and hold it up to the drill bit end to end. I’m looking for a drill bit that is slightly larger than the screw, but not larger than the head of the screw. Once you’ve chosen a good option, you’ll need to put your drill bit in your drill and start drilling out your holes.

I’ll be making a dedicated video on how to use a drill, so keep an eye out for that.

Once your holes are drilled, you’ll want to check to make sure the handles fit correctly. If they don’t, you will need to refill the holes and do this process again. While this is incredibly frustrating, it’s important that your handles are put on correctly.

Now that the holes are drilled, you can move forward with painting your piece. Once the paint is completely dry, you can put all of the new handles back on.

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