Screw Cutting 101

I was working on a bathroom mini remodel and I wanted to change the original old fashioned drawer pulls out for something more interesting and modern.  Yes, I know that these pulls are still available, but unless you are going for a antique look- or something else that I like to call “Old Lady” – I urge you to resist all temptation in buying them, because they just look bad and the older ladies (at least the ones that I know) don’t even want them lol.

White ceramic and brass drawer pull.

When I opened the new hardware packaging I discovered that the new screws were longer than the original screws.  My first thought was to reuse the original hardware screws.  Usually this works, but in this case it didn’t.  For some reason I had trouble correctly lining up some of the old screws with the new hardware. Could it be that the new screws were slightly narrower and made in another country, and the drawer pull was un-level?  Probably, but I tried recycling the old screws with the new pull anyway.  I was able to reuse some of them; however, fussing with the old screws was frustrating and time consuming.

Original brass screws, new screws, and new drawer pull.

I began to think about what my other options might be.  I came up with two: run to the hardware store and purchase new screws or cut the screws with a bolt cutter (which I knew was in my garage).   I didn’t like either one of the ideas, because it would mean leaving the job site.  Not wanting to waste what I had, I decided to drive home and get the bolt cutter.  As I was cleaning up my tools, I noticed that I had a pair of wire strippers in my bag…which also happens to cut screws!  The day was saved!

Screws and Wire Stripper

To cut a screw, first find the hole in the screw cutter that the screw threads into. (Note: the screw cutter is threaded only on one side of the wire strippers, make sure you thread the screw into the correct side so that you are able to back it out of the cutter after it is cut.)

Be sure the screw fits snuggly into the hole.

Second, thread the screw through the hole until you have reached the desired length.  In this case I used the original screws as a gage.  If you are cutting a bolt that requires a nut, it would be a good idea to screw the nut onto the bolt as a guide to make sure you get the proper length.  It’s also a good idea to test cut on an extra screw before cutting all of the screws- I did.

Notice what appears to be missing threads?  These are length cutting guides.

Once you have the screw where you want it in the hole, squeeze the handles together until the screw cutter cuts completely  through the screw (you may need two hands for this).  Remove the screw, and dispose of the cut end.

Viola! A screw cut to the perfect length.

Now all that’s left to do is remove the old hardware and install the new drawer pulls.  I used a small ratchet screwdriver for this task.

Tightening the screw.

Ta Da…the new drawer pull installed.

Many times the screws included with cabinet hardware is not the correct length for the thickness of the door/drawer front and the hardware itself.  It can be too short, or in this case too long- rarely is it “just right”.  Whenever new screws are the wrong length you may be able to reuse the original screws.   When the old screws are un-savalgeable and/or un-wanted, you may be required to purchase the correct sized screw separately (remember to measure the thickness of the drawer front, and take your cabinet hardware and screw to the hardware store with you for correct sizing).  I was lucky that the screws I had were extra long and could be cut- saving me time and money.  Next time I could be even luckier and have them be “just right”!