How to repair a broken desk drawer

Written by mark morris
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How to repair a broken desk drawer
Repairing your own desk drawer is simple with a little know-how. (roll top desk image by Paul Moore from

Drawers are essential to keeping desks organised. When your desk drawer breaks, you might as well be working at the kitchen table. Check out the slide hardware and examine the drawer components for wear and damage to determine what repairs are necessary. With a little patience, a little time and a few common tools and supplies, you can have your desk drawer back supplying pencils and postage stamps in no time.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Oil
  • Paraffin wax
  • Wood glue
  • Finish nails
  • Hammer
  • Replacement drawer guides (optional)
  • Hardwood for drawer parts (optional)

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    Simple Repairs

  1. 1

    Remove the desk from the drawer. If you see any obvious damage to the drawer box itself , move to Step 4. Tighten any loose screws and replace any missing screws.

  2. 2

    Nail any loose wooden slide pieces back into position. Check moving parts, such as nylon rollers and ball bearings, for signs of wear or damage. Oil the rollers and bearings. Use paraffin wax to lubricate wooden guides.

  3. 3

    Set the drawer back into position and test. If the drawer functions, assume it is fixed unless you have a problem again.

  4. 4

    Replace worn or damaged drawer guides if they do not respond to tightening and oiling. Remove the screws from the guides and set the old guides and screws aside. Place the new guide into position and attach using the screws provided with the new guide. Replace the drawer and desk halves of the guides at that same time to avoid incompatibility and future repairs.

    Rebuilding the Drawer

  1. 1

    Disassemble loose or damaged drawers. Be careful with old joints. You may need to heat old glue to get it to release. Use a hair dryer for a heat source. Pull any nails with a claw hammer or pliers.

  2. 2

    Glue and clamp any split pieces and allow to dry before reassembly. Cut replacements for any severely damaged pieces, using the original as a template for materials and dimensions. Consult professional advice if this step is beyond your experience. Cabinet shops can often remake intricate pieces for a modest fee.

  3. 3

    Glue and reassemble the drawer. Reinforce any joints that were originally nailed, with finish nails. Drill pilot holes for your nails in old, fragile wood to prevent splitting with a 1/32-inch wire bit . Use clamps to hold the drawer together.

  4. 4

    Replace any drawer guide hardware and allow the glue to dry completely before replacing the drawer in the desk..

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