I’m hardly a pro when it comes to installing cabinetry, but I have done several kitchens and built-in casework installations over the years. Not being a professional cabinet maker, and not knowing any better, I went to Home Depot and grabbed a very inexpensive set of plastic cabinet hardware templates for my first couple jobs. While they were inexpensive, that’s about the only good thing I could say about them. I had to use a finish nail to mark the locations, and I was limited to a number of pre-set hardware sizes, so forget it if I wanted to use anything oversized for the handles. I struggled through a kitchen, coffee bar and built-in dining buffet with that same cheap set of templates. While I made it work, it was anything but easy, and I can definitely say for certain, if I had the Cabinet Hardware Jig PRO by True Position Tools (recently sent to us for review), those drawer and door handles would have got installed a lot sooner, and probably would have been a bit more accurately placed as well.
We recently purchased a new (to us anyway) home. It’s about 17 years old and it is a pretty basic builder’s grade home. We plan to make a number of modifications to customize it to our liking, as we did to our last home. The kitchen will be in the future, but for now, we have two projects in the works that include new casework; an office update and a new bar. (Note to readers, cabinets = casework. In my field I’m used to using casework to describe much of the built-in products like cabinets, transaction counters, etc – so I may use the words interchangeably in this article – blame the architect in me!)
To date, I had installed about half the cabinets for the office remodel, as well as the cabinets in the back bar area. The rest of our cabinets are still being held hostage by the Egyptian government after they got stuck on the cargo ship blocking the Suez canal, or at least that’s our suppliers excuse! I had been holding out on installing the hardware, since it’s always been such a pain, but when I was offered the opportunity to test out the True Position Tools Cabinet Hardware Jig PRO, I was happy to oblige and put it to the test. And boy am I glad I did!
Cabinet Hardware Jig Pro – #1 for a Reason?
The True Position website touts their Cabinet Hardware Jig as the #1 Selling, #1 Rated Cabinet Hardware Jig. They’ve been making them here in the good old US of A since 1996. A quick look at the True Position Tools Store on Amazon would lead me to believe that’s indeed the case. The Original Cabinet Hardware Jig has 1,466 ratings as of the time of this article with 4.8 out of 5 stars. That’s pretty rock solid. I was looking forward to receiving the set and putting it to use.
One thing to keep in mind, this really is a precision tool. Unlike the plastic templates, these aren’t items you want to toss unprotected into your tool bag. While TPS does offer a set without the case, most of the options they have for sale come with an included hard case for storage and carrying. Each part of the jig has a place to live in its case, which keeps it organized, and more importantly, protected to ensure years of precise measurements.
Removing the set from the case and sliding the pieces together, I was impressed with the fit and finish. Everything felt tight and precise. While they have a great set of instructions with the set, they have a whole lot more, including more specific directions for each task you may run in to for cabinet hardware installation, including video tutorials, all available on their website.
Hard(ware) to Handle?
For our most recent projects, I had selected a nice oversized black rectangular style handle. At nearly 8”, it was certainly too large for the old plastic templates I had. For the Cabinet Hardware Jig PRO, it’s actually a little large for the standard application when installing hardware on doors, which has you use the center hole and then a measured hole either left or right, which you can set exactly at the measurement for your handles. Since my hardware was a little too large though, I simply used both the movable bushings, and skipped the middle hole for my installation. I measured the center to center of my cabinet hardware, then set the two sliding drill guides at half that distance each away from the center. To double check, I placed the hardware on and screwed in through the sliding drill guides to ensure the placement would work.
After that I measured down from the top of the doors (for the lower cabinets) and in from the side, to place hardware centered in the shaker style cabinet door edges. With those measurements, I simply set the large stop and the sliding end stop at the appropriate distances, locked them in to place and we were ready to roll!
The set includes a drill bit so I placed that in my trusty drill and got to work. The set up was very easy, but is important to get right. Once things are set up correctly, you’re already hallway there, so take your time to double check your measurements. If you aren’t using one of the guides (in my case the center guide) a pro tip is to tape over the hole! Once you start drilling it’s all too easy to see every guide as one you need to drill. So, before you start adding extra, unwanted perforations to your (likely very expensive) drawer and door faces, do yourself a favor and tape it off!
For the drawers, the PRO set, which includes an extra extended ruler attachment and double bracket, is a must. I think if you have smaller drawers, possibly limited to 12” or so, you can easily handle them with the basic set. For anything larger (ours are 30” wide), the extended ruler is a must. This allows you to clamp on and extend out to the side, so you can measure your drawer width, find center, and then extend your sliding end stop out to the side of the drawer so you can center up the Cabinet Hardware Jig every time. While you can buy it separately, the extra $40 to get it in the set from the get-go is a no-brainer.
Dancing a Jig with True Position Tools
After setting everything up, I went to work drilling holes. Tips to avoid blowouts include placing painters tape or ideally clamping a piece of wood to the back side of the cabinet faces. That said, our cabinets are from Ikea and regardless of which method I took, I ended up with quite a few blowouts on the backside. Possibly just an indicator that they aren’t the best cabinets in the world. That said, always drill in from the outside face and you shouldn’t have too much of a problem, as any blowouts will face the interior.
When I did get to drilling, the Cabinet Hardware Jig PRO by True Position Tools was a dream to use, especially by comparison to the inferior plastic templates I previously used. There was no messing around with marking holes, then having a hard time seeing them, then trying to make sure I held the drill as square to the door as possible. You simply place the Cabinet Hardware Jig in place, grab your drill and drill right through the bushings in to you cabinet door. To do the opposite door, just flip the template over and drill from the opposite side.
What would have taken me probably several hours with my old templates, took less than an hour, from set up to install of 15 new cabinet door handles. That much time savings is enough to dance a happy jig. If my back were any younger, I might do just that! For now though, I’ll put it in these terms, time is money, and saving hours means the jig will likely pay for itself rapidly. That much time back means more time to work on other projects, spend quality time with the family, or work to pay the bills so you can buy more cabinets!
A few more Spec’s on the Cabinet Hardware Jig PRO from the True Position Tools website:
• Max Handle Width: 12″ C-C
• Max Centering on Drawer Front Width/Door Height: 18″ with End Stop, Infinite with Center Mark
• Max Shelf Pin Hole Pattern: 3 Holes
• Tool Dimensions: 9.5” x 12.5″ x 2”
• Max Drawer Front Centering Height: 16″
• Min. Width Door Panel (Stile/Rail):1/2″
• Min. Placement From Edge of Door/Drawer Front: 1/4″
• Bushings: 5mm x 1/2″ length
• Material: Hardened anodized aluminum + Case hardened steel bushings + Stainless steel thumb screws
• Carrying Case: Hardened Plastic + Stainless Steel Latches
• Weight: 4.8 lbs with Case
The True Position Tools Cabinet Hardware Jig PRO is Hard to Beat
There are definitely cheaper options out there than the True Position Tools Cabinet Hardware Jig PRO. I know, I’ve used them before and there is something to be said for having the right tool for the job. Not only the right tool, but the best tool. When put in the perspective of the cost of your new cabinets, or even the time you can save over other template and jig options on the market, it’s an easy call and one that can pay for itself many times over if you have more than one job to do.
I am very happy with this jig and I certainly expect it will be a lifetime tool for me. True Position Tools thinks it will be for you as well, and they build their bushings to last for 10,000 holes. They will even replace the bushings for you for free if you wear them out. Tough to beat that commitment to their products and it’s great to see that these fine tools are manufactured here in the USA. If you have an upcoming project requiring the installation of new cabinet hardware, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better Cabinet Hardware Jig on the market.
Have a few holes to drill of your own? You can find the Cabinet Hardware Jig PRO from True Position Tools direct from the source online at the links below (and it’s also available on Amazon shipped Prime!):