Love Handles

Customize your next set of doors, drawers, or box lids with one of these shop-made handles.
Photo showing 3 types of handles.


All you need to make the three designs shown here are a tablesaw, drill press, router table, router, bandsaw, and sander. You can vary the size with each design, and the look by mixing different wood species. Let’s get started.

Bead and cove

 

A small parts holder.

Small square lid that's has edges routed.
Alternate design: Rather than making a rectangular handle, use a square blank to create a knob that’s just as easy to grip.

This beefy handle provides plenty of surface for securing with glue or screws. Begin by cutting your workpieces and scrap stock for test cuts at least 58 " thick and to the desired dimensions with the ends cut square. Rout a bead around the top of a blank, as shown in Photo A, then undercut it with a cove (Photo B). This provides finger room and an excellent grip. When finished routing, sand all surfaces before securing the pull to the drawer, door, or box lid.
Router bits: Freud no. 80-102  18 "-radius traditional beading bit; Whiteside no. 1407  38 " round-nose bit.

Showing router bit cutting profile into wood.
Secure the blank in a handscrew clamp or small-parts holder with the best face down. In two successively deeper passes, rout a bead with fillet around the blank (ends first, then edges, to eliminate tear-out).

Using round-nose bit.

(Photo B, above)  Invert the blank in the clamp with the bead on top. Set a round-nose bit height so it intersects the bottom of the fillet. Position the fence to expose about 116 " of the bit, and rout around the blank, starting with the end grain. Move the fence back 116 " and repeat until the bit’s centerpoint reaches the fillet edge (316 " with this bit).

Bracket and arch

Wooden box for wine or other gifts.

This Asian-inspired handle provides the perfect opportunity to mix wood species. Use the pattern link to make an 812 "-long handle.

Pushing wood through tablesaw blade.
Make a ¾×11⁄4" bracket blank at least 6" long. Using a flat-toothed rip blade in the tablesaw, cut a centered ¼" groove 13⁄16" deep.

Crosscutting brackets.
From the bracket blank, crosscut two 1"-long brackets for each handle. Sand these pieces smooth, relieving the top edges and corners as well as the ends.

Using push block to rip board.
From a 1×9" arch blank, rip or plane a 1⁄4" strip to fit snugly in the bracket groove.

Cutting out pattern with bandsaw.
Adhere the pattern and bandsaw the arch to shape. Remove the pattern, and sand the arch smooth. Glue the brackets onto the arch 1⁄2" from each end, seating the arch fully in the grooves.

Arch object being sand.
Drill holes and glue a 1⁄4" dowel in each bracket, then sand them flush when dry. Sand the brackets to match the arch’s curve. Glue or screw the completed handle to your project.

Showing two different handles.
Alternate design: Reduce or enlarge the pattern to any size proportional to your project. Leave out the dowels if you prefer.

Inset and beaded arch

The recess below this handle keeps a low profile, while the bead improves its grip. Like the bracket-and-arch handle, this presents the opportunity to mix wood species. You’ll build two jigs for this.

Router bits:
Whiteside no. 1430 18 "-radius half-round bit; 12 " spiral or straight bit; 14 " spiral bit.

Make the jigs first

Drilling hole into clamped board.
Make the recess-routing template from a 4×9" piece of ½" plywood. Mark centerlines on the width and length. At the centerpoint, drill a 1 3⁄4" through-hole using a Forstner bit.

Router bit in the middle of board.
With a 1⁄2" spiral or straight bit in your router table, rout a slot 1" to each side of the hole. Position stops to set the slot lengths. Use a square and pencil to transfer the centerlines down the inside edges of the cutouts.

Cutting out pattern of handle with bandsaw.
Adhere the cradle-jig pattern to a 1 1⁄2×2×18" laminated MDF blank and bandsaw along the curve.

Sand curve in board with pattern on it.
Use a spindle sander and its largest-diameter drum to smooth the cradle to the pattern lines.

Sanding curve on boards side.
With a smaller-diameter drum, sand a 3⁄16"-deep notch in one edge of the cradle to allow clearance for the router-bit shank when installed on the router table.

Bit shank in curve of board.

SHOP TIP


Get some relief from grippy tape

When using both jigs to make this handle, you’ll secure them to the workpiece and router table with double-faced tape. To simplify removing a jig after use, rout a shallow rabbet across each end of both jigs. When finished, slip a screwdriver into the rabbet and gently pry the jig loose.

 Click on link to download full-size patterns of handles.

Photo showing 3 types of handles.

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