Cabinet Knob Drilling Guides

Cabinetmakers discuss store-bought and shop-rigged drill guide jigs. January 24, 2006

I am looking for a cabinet hardware (pulls and knobs) drilling guide. I won't be using it everyday, but I donít like bad tools. I'd rather much rather buy good ones. I've used Align-Rite and itís ok but a little fussy to set up. Are there others I should consider? What does everyone use?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor K:
I'm not one for purchasing new tools that will lie around 90 percent of the time so I make my own out of scrap. It takes about 10 minutes. For drawers, cut a piece of 1/2" ply to a desired width and length and then nail a strip to the top that overhangs the front and back 1/2". This way it is reversible. Drill your holes where you need them. For the doors make the same jig except do the top and one side with a strip.

From contributor F:
I usually do something along the lines of what Contributor K does. Sometimes I just use a small adjustable square in one hand and a tape measure and awl in the other to mark the centers. I think everyone uses a scrap of wood to prevent splintering on the back side as you drill. An aluminum jig with adjustable drill bushings would be a handy tool though. I have a dedicated one to bore pilot holes for Blum faceframe plates and I like it.

From contributor B:
I use a Blum hinge machine to drill the doors for pulls before they go out the door. Also drill the drawer fronts before mounting on the cabinet. The Blum machine has a fence for set back and side stops for distance, what more could you want?

From contributor F:
It sounds efficient Bruce. I canít remember any client ever having their pulls selected or purchased before I installed.

From contributor T:
To the original questioner: I think they have a pretty good drilling guide at the True 32 website. It has some hardened bushings to keep the bit from drifting and some self centering gizmos that will give you a lot of confidence in alignment.

From contributor J:
I would suggest checking out Sommerfeld Tools for woodworking. They have an excellent jig. I keep two of them and I'm sure you could make your own, but this one is quality and worth the money.

From contributor B:
To contributor F: I just don't finish the doors until they have decided. I drill before the last coat of finish. If I am not installing then I don't worry about, and I don't drill the holes. The Blum machine is very efficient; we drill for hinges then turn around and drill for pulls while we have the door in hand.

From the original questioner:
Contributor K - I'm curious as to what you found deficient in the guide you purchased and then sidelined. The True32 unit looks like the Bentley of guides, and priced similarly. I get $5 per pull to drill and install, which backs probably around 60% of clients out, but I guarantee the work. If I screw up placement itís my nickel to fix. So a typical charge is $125-200 per kitchen. If I were doing a little more, I could justify the $325. Five or six jobs would pay for it, and then (assuming it works as stated) it should be cake.

Recently I drilled and installed a kitchen with 28 doors and 9 drawers. I used a marking jig on the DF and freehand drilled. It took around an hour of total time. If that Bentley jig works, I can imagine the time cut in half, so in essence I doubled my wage. It's a small piece to a big puzzle, but amortized over time, it really could pay for itself, and that's a good thing.