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I am refinishing a bedside table that my late husband made many years ago. I have just realized that when he assembled the drawer he attached the hardware to the front plate with screws and then he glued the front panel to the drawer box. I do not have access to the screws to remove the hardware. I need to remove the handle to strip the drawer front and I also want to put new hardware on.

Any ideas on how to proceed.

inside of drawer

outside of front

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Sorry cannot comment yet, other wise I would have commented on Bowltuner's.

Take Bowltuner's drill idea, but use a common 3/4" hole saw instead of a standard drill bit

when the saw portion cuts in to the wood, remove the center drill from the hole saw. This will protect the screw head better from damage due to your drilling.

Still use tape as a depth gauge, and pry out the hole core with a flat blade screw driver.

  • That's a good idea. – bowlturner Apr 24 '15 at 18:37
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    I was just thinking along the same lines but was going to suggest a plug cutter. A hole saw is a good idea. FWIW, your answer is different enough and detailed enough to stand on its own. – rob Apr 24 '15 at 19:05
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Ouch. If he did a good job gluing, then the best idea I can come up with would be to drill holes.

On the inside of the drawer, try your best to line up with the where the screws should be holding the handles on. I'd take a 1/2" drill bit and drill down through 'most' of the inside board, I would guess the board is either a 1/2" or 3/4" board. so drill to just short of the depth, or just to it (stop if you hear metal on metal!). An easy way to do that is to measure the distance on the drill bit and put a piece of masking tape so when the tape reaches the wood stop.

If you measured right, the screw head should be there and you might need a little knife to clean up the hole. With any luck there won't be glue in the screw heads otherwise you might need a small sharp tool to clean them out as well.

After that you should be good to go.

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If you are not interested in saving the handle, you can use a Dremel or other small cutoff tool to cut the handle in half then unscrew it from the mounting screws. Once you know the exact location of the screws, you can drill through from the other side as suggested by Bowlturner and remove the screw.

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There is one other option, that I suggest as a last resort, and should not be done by someone who has limited experience: use a bandsaw table to cut the drawer face off the drawer.

You would have to adjust the table of the bandsaw to cut the face off trying to follow the glue line between the drawer and the face. Also, trying to feed this through the bandsaw too fast will be dangerous. The blade can also walk (the blade moves away from where you want it to be) while cutting.

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Did this on a marine drawer... take a large plaster spatula and tap it between the components. Start at the corners and keep rotating around, this will keep the pieces from splintering or cracking. Then replace the hardware and re-glue.

If you want to keep the clean appearance try sanding both faces first with an orbital sander, and just apply Gorilla glue at the top seam and the corners. Don't mess with the glue till hard and then use a chisel to clean up the excess.

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