Sticky and binding wooden drawers are one of life's little aggravations. Lots of things can make a drawer stick - for example, nails screws or staples supposed to hold drawers together working loose, drawer guides or corners breaking or even just moisture in the air. Fortunately, you can fix most of these problems and get your drawer back to sliding smoothly.
Determine what is making your drawer stick. Pull the drawer right out and look to see if the obstruction is apparent. Sometimes it's as simple as a sock that has fallen out of the drawer onto the glides.
Check if the drawer structure is loose or coming apart. A loose staple, nail or screw can cause the drawer to 'rack' or get out of square and it will bind. Tighten loose fasteners or simply replace them with new ones (don't put the new fasteners into exactly the same holes as the old ones).
Repairing a loose drawer guide is a multi step process. First remove the guide from the drawer, then apply carpenter's glue to both the guide and the drawer and reattach the guide. Let the glue set up overnight and then replace the drawer.
Broken drawer guides or corners can be replaced with new ones available at home and hardware stores or you can often make your own with small pieces of molding cut to fit.
Drawer still sticking but you can't see any obstruction? Sanding the drawer should help. Use medium grade sandpaper (80 to 100 grit) and a sanding block (not a power sander) to sand the drawer edges and glides. Work slowly and check often to see if your drawer will slide easily
Apply paraffin or bees wax or even hand soap (just don't use a soap containing extra skin conditioners) to the bottom edges and drawer guide tracks of your drawers.
Sticky nylon tape is available that you can just stick onto your drawer bottoms and guides. Once the tape is installed, you won't need to use wax or soap to help your drawers glide.
Applying polyurethane or paint to the sides and bottoms of your drawers will stop moisture from getting into the wood and swelling it.
Sticky drawers can be frustrating, but if one of your drawers starts sticking don't force it or slam it out of frustration. You'll probably end up causing more damage and possibly break the drawer making it unfixable.
Tips and warnings
- Sticky drawers can be frustrating, but if one of your drawers starts sticking don't force it or slam it out of frustration. You'll probably end up causing more damage and possibly break the drawer making it unfixable.