stained dark medium brown mahogany drawer fronts with diy gold backplates and drawer pulls in place on the dishwasher panel conversion and trash panel

Have you ever wondered how to make cabinet pull backplates? I have. They are great for covering old holes or to upgrade simple cabinet pulls. I’m doing a mini-glow up for our kitchen and these are the cabinet backplates I’ve been dreaming about. Skip ahead to the tutorial.

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cb2 gold damon bar pull centered on a gold backplate.
learn how to make your own cabinet pull backplates, an inexpensive, diy alternative to these expensive ones from cb2.

But at $44 a pop I needed a better alternative…because I need 25. Plus, I already had these handles.

gold cabinet pulls from amazon, amazing deal, I bought these for $56 for 25. The price ranges from $56-75, either way it's a great price for nice, sturdy, gold kitchen cabinet bar pulls.
I paid $56 for 25 pulls on Amazon. That was a lightning deal, but even at their normal price of $70 for 25, that’s a steal.

When Mike and I built the light over our island, I became aware of the world of metal. I saw these 1 1/4″ flat bars and realized I could easily make my own kitchen cabinet backplates. Now, I can teach you how.

Supplies you will need:

  1. 1 1/4″ x 1/8″ thick aluminum flat bar – you can buy longer lengths of this at a metal supply house near you or online and at a better price. However, I used this one for my first try because they were easy to find. They also have 1 1/2″ wide bars if you want a beefier backplate.
  2. Acetone – this is for cleaning the metal and getting it ready to accept paint
  3. Sandpaper – 60 or 80 grit, 320 for sanding before primer and between paint coats
  4. Clean metal primer
  5. Spray paint – mine is gold
  6. Optional: Rub n’ Buff – this added a little lived in patina to the backplate – I used the color “Gold Leaf”

Tools:

  1. Grinder or hack saw or sawzall, you need something that can cut metal blades. In a pinch I’ve used my miter saw, but I wouldn’t recommend this without getting a blade that can cut metal.
  2. Sander, your random orbital will work – I have and used a bench top sander
  3. Drill or drill press
  4. Metal or Metal and Wood Drill bit – 3/16″ – 1/8″
  5. Clamps – I used two
  6. Measuring tape
  7. Speed square (optional but definitely helps)
  8. Sharpie or pencil for marking cuts

Instructions:

Step 1: Measure your handles. Decide how far you want your backplates to project on either side of the handles. Mine are 3/4″ wider on either side. I added 1 1/2″ to the length of my pulls and marked that on my metal bar.

A speed square helped me make a quick, straight line as a guide to cut.
steel metal aluminum bars cut and marked for holes to be drilled for diy backplates
I was able to cut all three of these from a 3′ flat bar.

Step 2: Clamp bar on solid surface and cut bar on the mark using your hacksaw, grinder or other cutting tool. If your cuts are perfectly square, now is a good time to get them squared up with the sander.

Step 3: Measure how far apart your mounting holes are on your handles, measure from the center of one hole to the center of the other. Example: mine are 12 3/8″ apart. Make marks on your cut metal centered on the bar exactly where the mounting holes should go on the backplate so that when the drawer pulls are attached the mounting screws can be aligned. The speed square can also help you keep those hole marks centered along the bar.

Helpful tips: just before drilling these, take your handles and make sure the holes line up. If you are making multiple backplates, drill one first, then use it as your template for all the others to mark the holes.
holes drilled at perfect spacing on home made kitchen cabinet backplates for kitchen cabinet pulls.
Don’t make the mistake I did and paint before drilling your holes. I had to sand, prime and repaint these.

Step 4: Using your drill or drill press and clamps, drill holes through the metal bar.

joannie is using her benchtop disc sander to straighten out her metal cuts
The first set of backplates I made with steel bars. Aluminum is cheaper, easier to cut/sand and I used those for the rest.

Step 5: While the bars are clamped, sand all the rough edges. If your cut didn’t end up perfectly square, you can use the sander to straighten out your cut. I slightly rounded all four corners of my backplates.

Note: If you want half-circle ends, you could use a grinder and continue to shape the backplates. Just be sure you use a sharpie or pencil to mark your shape.  
acetone helps clean the metal of any oils or dirt
Do not skip this step, acetone can make or break the durability of your finish.

Step 6: Once you are satisfied with the shape, clean your backplate with acetone and lightly hand sand the surface and edges with 320 grit.

Use a rag or shop towel to wipe off the dust.

rustoleum clean metal primaer and metallic finish are my go to spray paints. Here they are next to a handle they were painted on to.
I did not end up painting all of my handles because they were so inexpensive on Amazon, but these are my favorite metal primer and gold spray paints.

Step 7: Prime with clean metal primer.

lightly sanded and ready for their final coat, these diy kitchen pull backplates look like they were made by a professional.
If you look closely you can see my sanding marks before my last coat of paint

Step 8: lightly sand with 320 grit sandpaper and finish with the spray paint of your choice, sanding lightly between coats.

final coat of gold spray paint was applied to these diy cabinet kitchen handle backplates
This was after my last coat but before the Rub n’ Buff, I could have stopped here

I painted very light coats – about 5, waiting 5-10 minutes between coats.

the handle set is placed on drawer front prior to finishing to check placement and sizing
Here’s a close up of the smaller backplate and pull placed on the drawer front – they aren’t attached yet.
Optional Step: I let them cure over night and to add a little patina I rubbed Rub n' Buff in Gold leaf on the backplates the next day.
stained dark medium brown mahogany drawer fronts with diy gold backplates and drawer pulls in place on the dishwasher panel conversion and trash panel
Here they are mounted and with the Rub n’ Buff

Step 9: Mount to your drawers with the screws provided to mount the handles, sandwiching your new backplate between the handles and the drawer front.

That’s how you make backplates for your kitchen cabinet pulls

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and see how easy and inexpensive it is to make your own backplates. This post is part of a series where I teach how I completely transformed my Ikea kitchen cabinet island into something amazing.

I refaced the island trim and cabinets with mahogany veneer, converted my stainless steel dishwasher into a paneled dishwasher – without replacing it with a panel ready version, built new door and drawer fronts. If you want to learn how I did all that, sign up for my updates so you don’t miss a post.

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