Fixing up vintage furniture is one of our favorite things to do! Over the years, one of the most common DIY fixes we’ve done is make sticky wooden drawers slide easier. It’s such a common issue with older furniture that the first thing prospective buyers often ask is whether the drawers slide smoothly. If you’ve come across this problem, we’ve got some great tips for you to try! Below we share with you our most successful techniques for how to make drawers slide easier, from easiest to hardest.
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Easy drawer slide tip # 1 – Try a different order
If you’ve removed the drawers recently and they don’t seem to fit and slide like they did before, it’s likely you have put them back in a different spot. Wood furniture, including the drawers, expand and contract with changes in temperature and moisture levels. Over years, this will cause a slight change in the shape of your wood furniture. You probably don’t notice it but it’s often enough that drawers that slide nicely in one spot do not in another. So if your wood drawers have been removed recently, try rearranging them before you try our other techniques below.
Pro tip: If you are refinishing furniture, as you remove each drawer, label the back with a pencil so you know where it goes when you put the piece back together. (Ex. TL = top left)
Easy drawer slide tip # 2 – Soap/candle
A little grease goes a long way! Remove the drawer completely from your furniture and rub a bar of soap or a candle along all the edges of the drawer that touch the inside of the piece. We’ve had great success getting dresser drawers to slide easily with this technique. We’ve all got candles or a bar of soap lying around the house which makes this method super easy!
If you can’t get the drawer out completely, try applying the soap or candle wax to a cue tip and work it into the drawer sliders bit by bit.
Easy drawer slide tip # 3 – wax paper/paraffin wax
Angela from Blue i Style recommends using paraffin wax. Paraffin is sold in blocks but it can be tricky to find at some grocery stores (you can get it here). If you do find some, you apply it the same as soap or a candle. Rub along all the drawer edges that touch the inside of your furniture piece.
Wax paper can also be rubbed along all the same edges to leave a little wax on the surface to make wood drawers slide smoother.
The logic is the same as the previous tip. However, since paraffin wax is harder to find and wax paper doesn’t offer much wax, this technique is slightly less ideal.
Easy drawer slide tip #4 – Sand
If the tips above aren’t enough, sanding down the drawers should do the trick. Use a medium grit sandpaper and a sanding block/sponge to sand along all the drawer edges that touch the inside of your furniture piece. Although it may not look like it, sanding can remove quite a bit of material quickly. Try fitting your drawer again after a few passes to see if you’ve removed enough. If not, sand a little bit more until the wooden drawer slide easier.
Easy drawer slide tip #5 – Replace the runners
If all else fails, you can replace the drawer slides. Old wooden furniture usually has a wooden channel attached to the bottom of the drawer. A piece of wood fits the channel on the body of the piece. The two pieces fit together and allow the drawer to “slide” into place. Both parts can be removed and a new slide installed. You can also swap out for metal drawer slides (although you will lose some charm!). You can buy new wood drawers slides here.
Sticky wooden drawers are pretty common with old furniture. We hope the next time you come across this problem you try our tips for how to make drawers slide easier.