how to make curved wood refrigerator handles

DIY Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles

Let’s talk about Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles and how to make them.

We have an old refrigerator. It’s probably over 30 years old. The thing runs like a champ. Makes ice faster than a snowman could, which means it’s probably not energy-efficient. It holds a ton of food because it’s as big as a Mac truck. It’s a creamy color, which I believe was referred to as “biscuit” back in the day.

Basically, it’s in fine shape and I’ve loathed it since the moment we moved into this house.

How to make Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles DIY Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles

But then a funny thing started to happen. I realized a stainless steel refrigerator would be way too modern for our very old house. A white refrigerator would be much too harsh. A black refrigerator is a no-go. A panel-ready refrigerator that looks like cabinetry would be ideal, but that’s spendy when we’re saving for other things.


Is this what it feels like when a biscuit-colored fridge starts to grow on you?


I guess we’re rolling with that assessment. So, the fridge is fine(ish) and would look better boxed out with cabinetry next to it, but I can’t solve that problem today.

What I can do is make custom, curved wood handles for the fridge.

Why? Why not? This refrigerator is not precious and I’m certainly not going to experiment with making handles for a brand-new fridge that costs thousands of dollars. This is our moment to see if we can create something different and unique for our old refrigerator.

Our fridge came with curved door handles and those felt nice, so we thought we’d try to recreate them in wood instead of making a simpler design. You only make fridge handles live once!

Here’s how to make Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles:

Step 1: Select your wood.

We used ash because we had a slab of it and thought it would be a pretty hardwood to use for handles.

White oak is really popular right now, but there are plenty of options. Choose a wood with a color and grain that works for your kitchen.

Step 2: Trace your handles.

Cut a rectangle that’s wide and deep enough to be the starting point for your handles. You may need to laminate multiple pieces of wood together to get the right depth.

Lay your handle on its side on the wood rectangle and trace the curve with a pencil.

This becomes your cutting guide.

How to make Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles

Step 3: Cut out your handles. 

We tried both a jigsaw and a bandsaw to cut out the refrigerator handles, carefully cutting along the traced lines. The bandsaw worked so much better, but you can get it done with a jigsaw if that’s what you have.

If you’re not sure how this will go and don’t want to practice on expensive wood, you can make a practice handle with a 2×4 or a piece of scrap wood.

How to make Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles

Please note: If you’re making multiple handles, the first handle you cut out should become the tracing template for the remaining handles. That will help you keep the handles the same dimensions.

Step 4: Check your work. 

The handle is not shaped or sanded yet, but it’s always a good idea at every step in the process to hold the handle up against the fridge to make sure you’re still on track.

The first handle we worked on was the freezer handle because it was going to be the least noticeable if we messed up. Be confident but have a backup plan. Ha!

How to make Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles

Step 5: Shape and smooth the handle(s).

We used a combination of a block plane, spoke shave, and sander to shape and smooth our refrigerator handles.

The ash we used is much harder than the pine we’re used to working with, which was a treat, but also took some getting used to.

There are methods of making exact replicas of a wood item, but we just eyeballed it and kept adjusting until all the handles matched. Not helpful, I know!

Step 6: Drill holes.

We’re attaching our handles exactly where the old handles were attached to the fridge doors.

To figure out where to drill, we used the lipstick trick. We applied lipstick to the screws sticking out of the fridge door, pressed our handle up to the screws and that “kiss” left a mark where we needed to drill.

How to make Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles. The lipstick trick lets you make a mark on the wood to know where to drill.

After the hole was drilled through from the back, we used a forstner bit to drill the hole from the front side of the handle. This allowed us to countersink the screws and have room to apply decorative screw head covers.

You can see how that looks in the below photo for Step 7.

Step 7: Stain and seal.

If there are any imperfections in the wood handles that you want to fill, now is the time to do it.

It’s also a good idea to test your stain color on a piece of scrap wood.

We stained and sealed our handles using Minwax Special Walnut stain. This color complemented the other woodwork in our kitchen. The handles then received three coats of Waterlox to seal them.

A polyurethane would have worked too, but Waterlox was just easier to work with. It’s not quicker though.

How to make Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles

Step 8: Attach door handles to fridge.

Finally, you’re to the good part! It’s time to attach the door handles to the refrigerator.

We reused the screws that held the old handles in place. This may or not be option for you based on your refrigerator configuration.

In order to cover the screw holes, we ordered brass screw hole plugs from Lee Valley Tools. They do come in different colors and sizes, so it’s important to know what you’re ordering before you drill any holes.

How to make Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles

We are pretty proud of ourselves for how these curved wood refrigerator handles turned out.

They are definitely unique!

DIY Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles on an old fridge

They also feel really nice in your hand when you open and close the fridge.

That’s important.

We’ve used the handles for over four months now without any problem. So far, they are holding up really well to daily use and regular cleaning.

DIY Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles with brass accents on an old fridge

The new curved wood handles might make our old, clunky fridge more noticeable than it was. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

However, it does flow with or complement the rest of the wood and neutral tones of this space.

I am excited to get to the next stage of boxing out this fridge and adding some trim around the ceiling. I think that will finish off this fridge transformation.

DIY Curved Wood Refrigerator Handles with brass accents on an old fridge

Would I still prefer to have a refrigerator that’s concealed behind cabinet doors? Yes.

However, I’m also happy that this old fridge gave us the freedom to experiment and challenge our skills in a new way. There is a lot of value in that process.

Let us know if you have any questions about this DIY. You can always comment on this blog post, email us here, or reach out via Instagram or Facebook.

Happy DIYing!

Some of the tools and items used in this DIY:

WoodRiver Adjustable Spoke Shave

1 3/8 inch Adjustable Block Plane

Waterlox Original Sealer

Minwax Special Walnut Stain

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  • Pamela

    Who would have thought of such a thing! You may have created a trend. I love when you said biscuit color. We did a whole Kholer biscuit story in a fancy bathroom in a house back in day ❤️. Look forward to seeing the fridge boxed out, how about covering its little feet? 😜

    • annisa

      It’s funny you mention the feet because I was wondering why we really needed to keep that plastic piece. Couldn’t we come up with something better? Also, it never stays in place. What’s up with that? I just have to convince my husband that this idea of mine will work. Stay tuned.

  • Carla Erickson

    Annisa, the wooden handles are genius! They totally update the frig! The wood is beautiful! Great job!

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