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Measuring drawer pull handles

clock 2.5 minutes | 09 Oct 2019

Worker examining the screw holes on a series of pull handles

First, let’s talk about pull handles in general. Industrial pulls have to be strong and durable to stand up to repeated use. As handle design goes, they’re one of the most varied, from machine handles to flush door pulls.

You’ll find them in rack enclosure cabinets, an outdoor telecom equipment cabinet, machine and desk drawers and other applications.

An advantage of a pull handle is that it helps diffuse the weight across a larger area. This makes it easier to open heavier doors or drawers. But where do you begin when trying to determine what size you need?

Industrial door pulls have to accommodate multiple users, so you need to think about hand size, which involves anthropometric data. Anthropometrics is the study of human measurements, which is used by designers to develop products, including an industrial handle, in order to give them an ergonomic grip.

Components including industrial door pulls laid out ready for assembly

What about recessed pull handles?

What are the best door handles? That depends on your application. When space is limited, or where protruding handles create safety risks, recessed pull handles are ideal. You can get them as a screw mount or snap in. They’re embedded into the surface of your application, necessitating a cut-out equal to the depth of the handle. The size you choose is therefore determined by your panel thickness.

Drawer pulls

For industrial drawer pulls, you might be dealing with the need for more than one handle. It depends on the size of the drawer.

Standard base and wall cabinets are usually between 12 and 36 inches. If this is the case, it’s typical to use 3- or 4-inch pull handles. If your cabinets are larger than standard, you’ll need larger pulls. Look for ones that run between 6 and 12 inches.

Width is important

If the width of your drawers measures 18 inches or less, you’ll need more than one pull handle. This will make opening the drawer easier, though you also have the option of using a long pull handle, which could possibly free up one hand.

How to measure pull handles

When reading product specifications, it helps to understand the terminology.

Worker installing a pull handle on an industrial machine
  • On centre, or centre-to-centre: The distance from the centre of one screw hole to the centre of the other screw hole
  • Overall length: The distance from one end of the pull to the other end. This is always longer than the on-centre measurement
  • Projection: This is how far the pull sticks out from the surface after installation – does not factor into your measurements, but it’s still good to know
Measuring a pull handle on center

Using an Essentra drawer handle, here’s how to measure to get your mounting points:

Step 1. Measure on centre. In the example below, it’s 100 mm, or 3.9 in.

Step 2. Measure the overall length. In the example below, it’s 110 mm, or 4.3 in.

Step 3. Take the measurement for the diameter, or width, of the end. In this case, it’s 10 mm, or 0.39 in.

Step 4. Take the overall length of 110 mm/4.3 in and subtract the two halves of the end diameter. 2.5 mm + 2.5 mm= 5 mm, or 0.195 in + 0.195 in= 0.39 in

Measuring the diameter of a pull handle

The measurement you’re looking for is: 110 mm – 5 mm = 105 mm OR 4.3 in - 0.39 = 3.91 in

Other drawer pull handles you might be interested in:

Access Hardware - The Design Engineers Guide​