How to Make Sticky or Stubborn Wooden Drawers Slide More Smoothly

When I was moving into my current apartment, I had to store some of my things in my ex-roommate's garage for over a month while I was getting settled. One of those things was my dresser. Upon moving it into my new place, I realized something was horribly, horribly wrong—none of the drawers seemed to fit quite right anymore (if they fit at all).

Image via staticflickr.com

The combination of the differences in temperature and humidity in the garage caused them to swell and change shape. Several months later, they fit better, but they still don't slide in and out as easily as they used to.

A post by redditor tiny_tacos suggested applying carnauba wax to the tracks to make them easier to open and close. Carnauba wax is used in everything from automobile wax to furniture polish, and is common in paper coatings in the states.

Several commenters pointed out that any type of wax works, so I decided to try a few different things I had at home to see which had the best results.

Candle Wax

One of the most popular household items that helps with sticky drawers is a regular paraffin or beeswax candle.

Just rub it against all the areas of the drawer where there's friction when you open and close it, especially on the tracks and around the outside edges.

I used a long votive candle, but if all you've got is a tea light, you can take it out of the little metal cup and use it the same way.

Wax Paper

Wax paper is most commonly associated with food preparation, but it's coated in paraffin, so it will leave a thin layer of wax on wood. It works best if you fold it in half a few times before using it, otherwise it's too easy to tear.

Soap

Another option that most people have lying around is a bar of soap. Just give the bottom of the drawer a good coat (preferably a scent you don't mind smelling often).

Just know that you're going to have shavings everywhere, and it's probably best to use the cheap stuff since your bar of soap will end up looking like this:

Verdict

After spending more time than I'd care to admit opening and closing drawers, I was surprised to find that the biggest difference was in the one I rubbed with wax paper. Both the candle and the soap left a thicker residue on the drawers, but the thin coating from the wax paper was just the right amount.

You can use just about anything you have that's waxy or has a similar texture, like silicone spray or plain beeswax. If you don't want to apply a coating, sometimes sanding the sides and runners will help drawers slide easier since wood chips and splinters can create friction.

Got a clever solution that's not mentioned here? Let us know in the comments below.

Cover photo by jimmy brown

4 Comments

Thank you so much! my mom got me these drawers that are just too hard to close or open ugh I hate it! But I know how to fix it now!

Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i usually pull my drawers on ,,, 1 leg at a time!!

Here's one you wouldn't expect: body powder! Plain talc works best, but 'with corn starch' helps too. They both will reduce moisture in the wood, which lessens expansion. Sprinkle it fairly liberally on contacting parts. Clean up the excess with a vacuum, which leaves a fine coat in place.

Thank you so much for a product I didn't have to buy. The waxed paper worked great on my antique chest of drawers. I never dreamed of finding such a cheap, easy solution to stuck drawers.

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