How to Install Cabinet Hardware
Without Blowout

Table of Contents

What is "blowout?"

One of the most common questions we get from users of our tool is how to install cabinet hardware (knobs and handles) without causing blowout. Blowout is a term used to describe the splintering and fragmentation that can sometimes occur when drilling through wooden cabinet doors and drawer fronts. As the drill bit moves through the wood, it can cause pieces of the wood to pop out the back side of the cabinet. 

Because blowout can sometimes be a frustrating and even costly aspect of installing cabinet hardware, our experts put together some pro tips for avoiding blowout on your next cabinet knob or cabinet handle installation. 

Pro Tip:

In our experience, blowout can often be covered with the screw being used to attach the hardware to the cabinet, which means it isn’t as large of an issue as many believe it to be. However, depending on the type of wood and tools being used, it may prove to be an issue on your project.

1. How to install cabinet hardware without blowout:
Clamp scrap wood against the back of the cabinet door or drawer

Avoid blowout
Avoid blowout when drilling

One of the simplest ways to install cabinet hardware without causing blowout is clamping a block of scrap wood against the back of the cabinet or drawer you are drilling into. The pressure from the additional piece of wood will help prevent excessive blowout on the back side, ensuring a clean hole.

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2. How to install cabinet hardware without blowout:
Use a tapered drill bit to finish the hole

Our personal top pick for avoiding blowout when installing cabinet hardware is to start drilling with a standard drill bit and then finish with a tapered drill bit to complete the hole. The smaller head of a tapered drill bit will create less blowout than a standard drill bit–so small that it will almost certainly be covered by the screw backing. In our years of experience, this process may seem time-consuming but it’s also an incredibly trustworthy option. 

Avoiding blowout when drilling
Avoid blowout when drilling

3. How to install cabinet hardware without blowout:
A combination of solutions 1 and 2

Another somewhat time-consuming option for avoiding blowout is a combination of the two options above. This is another great option if you don’t have access to a tapered drill bit. First, start drilling the cabinet hardware hole, but don’t complete it. Then, clamp on a backer board and proceed to complete drilling the hole. The backer board holds the material tight to the substrate, and will not allow blow out regardless of what the material is.

Avoiding blowout when drilling
Avoid blowout when drilling

Pro Tip:

Regardless which option you choose, take time to remove extraneous chips as you drill to ensure they don't build up pressure and burst out the back. Simply run the drill bit in and out of the hole until it's clear. This will help alleviate blowout, regardless which pro tip you choose to try.

A final note on avoiding blowout
during cabinet hardware installation

The above options are fairly fool-proof in avoiding blowout when installing cabinet hardware. Clearly, no two hardware installations will be the same due to the different types and quality of wood being used in the cabinets, as well as the quality and type of drill bits being used. In some cases, veneer is applied so loosely and with such a small amount of glue that even a small tapered drill bit could cause some degree of blowout to occur. It’s not likely, but it can happen. As with any project, take time to get to know the materials you’re working with so you can prevent any issues that may occur.

Got other questions about how to install cabinet knobs or handles? Email us at [email protected]


  • Fast, accurate hardware installation in seconds
  • Any door & drawer + hardware up to 12”


  • All features of the Cabinet Hardware Jig ORIIGNAL, plus:
  • Rapid drawer front centering and quick repeatable door settings.
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  • All the features of the Cabinet Hardware Jig PRO, plus:
  • Hardware up to 38" (965mm) and Shelf Pins with 32mm spacing

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