Things to Do With Old Door Knobs

Selecting Your Door Knobs

For this project, you can actually choose old door knobs, old faucet handles, or anything other cool, old item that will allow you to hang stuff on it. I happen to like old door knobs and they may be a little easier to find.  I was making a towel rack for the bathroom but this same concept would be great for a coat rack, organizer, etc.

The door knobs I had to work with had an approximately 3/8” fine threaded hole in the bottom for the axle.  There are several different types of door knobs.  Some may have a ¼” square hole instead of a round one.  The instructions below will work for those too, but the process of cutting the threads may prove a bit more difficult.

I opted to use carriage bolts to attach the knobs to the board because of their relatively flat heads and the square area at the top of the bolt that bites into the wood to allow the door knobs to be tightened without turning the entire bolt.  This is nice if they ever come loose after it’s attached to the wall.

Step 1

First, measure the size of the axle hole and try to find bolts that will fit.

I did not have any luck finding carriage bolts at my local hardware store that had the proper diameter and thread coarseness.  I opted to buy a 3/8” tap to cut new threads and carriage bolts with the same threads.  Since the door knobs I used were made of brass, which is relatively soft, this seemed like the best solution.

If necessary for your project, cutting threads with a tap is quite simple and you shouldn’t let it intimidate you.  Use a tap the next size up from your measurement of the axle hole and get the corresponding carriage bolts.  A tap is not meant to remove a lot of metal, so get the smallest size that is larger than the existing hole or you’re in for a lot of work and potential frustration.   You will want the carriage bolts to be at least 1/4” longer than the thickness of your board, but make sure they’re not longer than the depth of the hole in your door knobs.  When cutting the threads with the tap, take your time.  When you start, be sure the tap is well aligned with the existing hole.  It doesn’t require a tremendous amount of pressure but it does require some until you get a few turns in.  It is best, especially at the beginning, to turn the tap clockwise for a turn, then back it out, then turn it clockwise for two turns, back it out one, and so on.  This prevents the tap from plugging up with metal shavings.  Also, back the tap out if you feel a marked increase in resistance at any time, or if something just feels weird.  This usually takes care of it.  If cutting threads in a metal harder than brass, it sometimes helps to apply a little bit of light oil such as WD-40 to the tap occasionally during the process.  Your bolts should now fit in the door knobs and turn smoothly in the newly cut threads.

Step 2

Drill, or cut, a shallow recess (approximately 1/8” deep) on the back of the board slightly larger than the head of your bolts in each location you wish to place a knob.  This recess will provide space for the head of the bolt and allow the board to lay flat against the wall.  Drill a hole the same diameter of your carriage bolts in the center of each of these recesses.  Insert your carriage bolts in the holes and give them a couple of good hits with a hammer to seat the bolt so it doesn’t turn when you put your knobs on.  Be careful not to scratch the front of your board.

Step 3

The board can be mounted to the wall using all-purpose screws.  Use at least two, more if your board is long or it will be holding a lot of weight.  Drilling the hole for the mounting screws close to and directly above one of your knobs, if the mounting position is high, or directly below one of your  knobs, if the mounting position is low, will hide the screws from the view of all but the most critical of inspectors.  For a more finished look, you can countersink the heads of your mounting           screws by using a drill bit the size the screw head to drill a very shallow recess for the head of the screw.  If you can locate a stud in the wall, a 2 ½” screw in each stud your board covers is more than sufficient.  If you cannot locate a stud, or they are not in a satisfactory location, you will need to use wall anchors.  Most any type of wall anchor will do, but the kind that spread out behind the drywall will usually hold more weight and tend to tighten up better.  Just follow the instructions on the package.  Beware of wires in the wall if you’re mounting your board close to outlets or switches.

Step 4

Screw your knobs onto the carriage bolts tightly and tighten the retaining screws in the base of the knobs if applicable.

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