Template calms fears when installing hardware
I worked on a set of four stacking tansu dressers for over a year, and paid about $500 for authentic Japanese hardware, so the last thing I wanted to do was mess up when installing it. My worry-free approach will work for any piece that has multiple doors or drawers, when you want the pulls to line up.
I love templates for all kinds of purposes. The genius is that you do your layout and/or shaping once and then crank out as many duplicate whatevers as you want. A template was just the ticket here too, saving me from laying out 11 drawers one by one and the risk of human error creeping in and causing a nasty misalignment.
I started by making a Masonite template the same size as the largest drawer front. I actually layed the hardware on it to eyeball its placement before locking in my layout. A common mistake woodworkers make with pendant pulls (those that hang) is to center the holes vertically, making the pull actually appear too low. The visual center of a hanging pull is somewhere below the mounting hole(s), and you need to eyeball it in place somehow to decide exactly where that is.
After I used the template to lay out the holes in all the big drawers, I was able to simply trim its sides evenly to make it work for the smaller drawers, too.
The pulls I used are called Hirukan, available from Hida Tool & Hardware.
And these are the Hirukan pulls I was installing, available from Hida Tool and Hardware.
The secret was using a layout template, sized to fit the drawer fronts exactly.
The holes in the template were just big enough to fit my pencil. I was sure to label the bottom edge of the template, since the holes were offset a little above center and the template could not be flipped.
The next step for accurate drilling is to indent the centers with an awl.
A brad-point drill found those center marks perfectly, so I could drill by hand.
The tines of these traditional pulls go through the holes in the back plate, and then through holes in the drawer front.
Then you flip the drawer onto its face, which keeps the hardware pressed tightly in place as you spread the tines by hand, and then bend their tips with pliers. Note the hard rubber mat I use to protect workpieces during assembly. It comes from Rockler.
Last, you carefully hammer the bent-over tines into the wood, using them as nails of a sort. Ancient technology that works beautifully! If it were a hard wood I might have drilled small pilot holes.
The result is perfectly aligned pulls on a stack of drawers.
Here's a bonus tip: How do you open a drawer with no hardware? Use a little metal flap. I made this from aluminum flashing, sanding its edges so they wouldn't scratch.
You slip it into the top gap and it springs open inside, allowing you to pull out the drawer easily.
It took me forever to make these four stacking Tansu cabinets, so I didn't want to goof it up at the end when installing the hardware!