How to make wood drawers glide smooth

Updated February 21, 2017

If a wooden drawer sticks when you try to pull it out or push it back in, it can be frustrating. Usually by the time the drawer starts to stick, damage to the sliding surfaces has already begun. Solutions need not cost much; in fact, you may have something in your house already to help fix this problem. Items that help to get your wood drawers sliding smoothly include bar soap, paste wax and paraffin, the white, waxy substance used to make candles and seal jellies and jams. The type of wood makes a difference also; hardwood glides more easily than softwood.

Rub a regular, cheap candle directly onto the wood drawer sliding rails. Use a heat gun to melt some of the candle first, and apply it to the rails. Your wooden drawers will glide easily for a long time.

Rub the wood drawer sliding surfaces with a dry bar of soap. Use any brand of soap, but keep it plain without extra oils or moisturisers in it. Use soap in a fragrance you like if you have musty, old drawers. The drawers will take on the fragrance after a short time.

Remove the sticky drawer, and apply a water-based wood varnish on the drawer slides using a brush. Let the varnish dry for 24 hours. If the drawer does not slide easily after this time, try this process again using a different brand of water-based varnish.


Avoid using oil on the drawer slides. It may seem like a good idea at first and will initially work, but oil becomes sticky as it evaporates, making the situation worse. The oil can also leak, getting into whatever your drawers contain.

Things You'll Need

  • Inexpensive candle
  • Bar of soap
  • Water-based wood varnish (optional)
  • Paint brush
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About the Author

Chyrene Pendleton has been a business owner and newsletter editor for more than seven years. She is a freelance writer with over 25 years experience and teaches a variety of topics, including alternative health, hair care and metaphysics. Pendleton is a certified television show producer, radio talk-show host and producer, and a computer programmer with a bachelor's degree in computer science.