Make a Replacement Drawer Pull

You can recreate a missing or broken drawer pull, and save that old dresser or cabinet.
By Gail E. Johnson
July/August 1976
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You can make your own replacement drawer pull.

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Should you acquire an old dresser with ornate cast-iron handles that beg not to be replaced, don't—whatever you do—throw away the ancient pulls just because one of their mates is broken or missing. Check around at antique shops first, and if that doesn't turn up a suitable replacement (it probably won't), consider casting your own. It's not as hard to do as you might think.

First find a small, flat container that's just large enough to hold one of your undamaged handles.

Second, buy some water putty at a hardware store (just ask for it . . . they'll know what you want) and—following the directions on the box—mix enough putty to support (not immerse) one of the good pulls in the little flat container.

Now apply a thin coat of oil to an undamaged pull (so that it won't stick later on), place it face down in the putty, and go away for a while.

After the putty has dried completely, very carefully remove the pull (use a pointed instrument if you have to to help you pry the handle from the mold). Try not to damage the hardened putty.

Next—with the aid of a propane torch—heat a small quantity of white metal (which you can get at any auto-wrecking establishment) in a metal crucible spoon (usually obtainable from a plumbing supply house). Once the white metal has melted, carefully pour it into the water-putty mold, and allow it to cool. Finally, break the putty from the casting.

At this point, all you have to do is [1] file off any rough edges which the new pull might have and [2] spray paint all the handles to match each other . . . and you've got a good-as-new set of drawer pulls!

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