Door Knobs to Towel Hooks

Since I wanted to freshen up this bathroom for no money, I tried to think out of the box a little, and I did lots of “shopping” around the house. And this project certainly has been done by other people before, so it’s not THAT unique, but I love the idea of using architectural salvage for something other than the intended purpose.

I have lots of door knobs collected over the years “in case we need them,” and decided that some of them would be perfect candidates for this project – turning door knobs into towel hooks for the bathroom! I’ll show you how we decided to do it, but there are lots of tutorials out there – some that use more glue than tools, and might be easier for people. Here’s what we did!

First, I found a board that was about the length I wanted.

And then I painted it the same color as the vanity.

Doug helped out with his super precise math skillz, and we found the center of the board and the precise location for 5 knobs.

We plotted the center knob first, and then I eyeballed where I wanted the first and fifth (last) knobs to go. And then, we found center between those two points for knobs two and four. Whew!


JUST KIDDING. This is just a dryfit to make sure nothing looks crazy.

Next, I drove some pilot holes through our plot points through the back of the board using the drill press.

I swear I didn’t plan this, but let’s have a moment for how my shirt and headband match the shed.

Once those were made, flip the board over, and I used the hole saw to make a recess for the bolts and nuts that will hold the door knobs on. The pilot holes that we made on the front side showed me where center is, to get these in the right place.

Hooray! And you can see the pilot holes here as well.

Next, I drilled out the front pilot holes to make them big enough for the bolts.

Now, if you look at the back, you can see how this will fit together.

Making sure the nut fits in!

Next, I kept on with the drill press. Door knobs have square openings, and we needed it to be round to turn the knob into a giant screw. So we drilled out the inside metal. The cutting fluid helped to lubricated and make sure things didn’t overheat.

This was SLOW work, and the gloves were a must – the door knobs got hot, and there was a lot of vibration.

It’s not pretty, but it’s round!

Brass dust made my gloves sparkly. Also, these gloves are relatively new. I went through my old pair when we demo-ed the downstairs floors (they were super old). And I have such a hard time finding gloves that fit my little hands, and that don’t feel so bulky. This is the first time I’ve done fiddly work with them, and they are REALLY great. I figured I’d share because I know gloves (that aren’t gardening gloves) for small hands are crazy hard to find.

Doug jumped in for the next part – he added the same trim I added to the vanity, as a border around the wood.

While he was doing that, I worked on cleaning the knobs. I wasn’t planning on shining them up (I like the patina) but the patina wore off when I was drilling them….. so I just cleaned them. And I’m glad I did – because they are spectacular. I just used Brasso and my big ol’ muscles. HA.

Before on the left, after on the right. I think it’ll darken a little over time, for sure.

Before –


I only had one of these knobs, and it’s BEAUTIFUL. So she’s my centerpiece.

I took this picture of the knobs before I started (and before I knew I’d shine them).

So I re-staged it after the shining – here’s the after!

Next up, we used a tap and die set to turn the knobs into a bolt!

We clamped a Tap onto the workbench, and used it to carve threads into the knob.

This is why we drilled out the square opening to make it round – that made this process much easier.

Also, this was a super strength job, so I couldn’t do it. It needed a bit more strength than I had. But here’s Doug explaining the process!

Here’s a good picture of the new threads we just created!

Once the threads are carved, you can insert a threaded rod to turn the whole thing into a giant bolt. We used the same threaded rods that we use for restoring lighting (and the tap and die set is good for making parts that might be missing / not standard because they’re old.)


Hooray! Slip in the knob, and bolt it in the back.


I am so happy with this!


And one french cleat later, she’s ready to go!!!

I love – so much – that these beautiful knobs aren’t in a box somewhere and have a function now. They needed to be seen.


    1. Ugh. I know. I’m considering breaking my Zero Dollar rule and painting it (I don’t want to do anything else more permanent since this is a short term design before we push walls In a few years to make way for a tub). WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU PAINT IT?

      1. Paint it to look like marble so it ties in with your new shelf!

  1. That is so much fun! I never realized how ornate old door knobs could be….I guess I’ve never paid much attention. These are wonderful. What a great idea!

  2. Wow- that is stunning and a good re-use of those gorgeous doorknobs. Well done you!

  3. It looks super cool. Love your use of the Victorian doorknobs. I have always wanted to do something like this, but your skill set and equipment left me in the dust when you pulled out the drill press. Still, I appreciate your tutorial, and I did learn a little. Every little tip I pick up helps me. The whole process was fascinating!

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