How to Make Flush Drawer Pulls
by Dave Knipfer

How does Dave Knipfer make the flush drawer pulls that end up behind doors?

Answer: (by Dave Knipfer)
WARNING... 'stealing' is when you reproduce someone elses work for profit and call it your own...

Being inspired by an idea is when you takes someone elses work and use the concept to create your own thing.

I know for sure that whatever you are building there is Your work... and thus looking for some insight about how I made those pulls is completely fair game... not stealing at all.

That said... "Starburst" is still to this day my favorite box... despite all the pretty ones I have turned out she is still owning that special place in my spirit...

That is the photo that I wish FWW chose to publish.

Now... to your question ....

If you want your doors to close flush against the drawers... as they do in "Starburst", then...

  • The design requirement here is to build your drawers and pulls such that nothing extends beyond the outer surface of the drawer fronts.

  • This immediately leads you into needing to create some sort of recess into the drawer fronts... the recess is needed to allow you to fit a pull flush with the drawer fronts and still have room to get your fingers comfortably behind it.

  • Sooooo... here is the photo that FWW did publish... and I'll use this photo to describe my method...

  • First you need to create a recess into the drawer fronts.

  • "Starburst" has a recess that is the same width across the drawers... so I created this one on my router table.

  • You can use any bit you wish to build that recess... but I've learned that it's very difficult to hand sand a radius in the bottom corner of the recess... soooo...

  • I choose router tooling that has a radius to the profile.

  • For straight recess like this one I'll use a 'bowl and tray' bit...

  • Just chuck that bit up in your router table and make multiple small passes until you get deep enough... say 1/2 of the drawer front thickness.

  • Then hand sand the recess and file/sand a radius on the outer edge.

  • For another option... I had a recent post that showed my method for creating a curved recess... this involves templates and a round profile bit to clear the waste.

  • Whatever way you go about it... first you need a recess in the drawer fronts deep enough to accomidate your pull with space behind for a finger.

  • Once that recess is in place and smoothed out... then the actual pulls themselves are simple... with a little paitence.

  • The pulls for "Starburst" are strips of Olive (left over from the door panels) that are fit into routed mortises that span the recess.

  • Sooo... mark up your drawer fronts and rout a shallow mortise across the recess...

  • "Shallow" meaning here that you want the back of the pull to have enough clearance from the bottom of the recess that you can still get a finger behind it... but also deep enough that the pull is not too thin.

  • Use your discretion at this point.

    Once that is done... recessed drawer fronts with mortises routed across the recesses...

  • Then you just build some pulls that span the width of the mortises exactly.

  • This part is kind of trial and error... you can easily plane some stock to the width of that mortise... and you can also easily plane it to the depth of that mortise... but...

  • Hand sanding a radiused end into both sides of that pull. a radius that matches exactly the curved mortise ends while also being the exact right length... this part takes some dedication... and it is a good personal test of how willing you are to throw away 'good' parts that are not perfect.

  • I made 11 pulls to get to the 6 that fit my "Starburst:".

  • Now... when you have enough pulls that fit the mortises to your satisfaction... just glue them in and scrape them flush with the drawer fronts once they have cured.

  • If you do all that... you will end up with flush drawer fronts with pulls that fit very elegantly behind a set of doors.

  • I hope you show us a photo of whatever you come up with.


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