How to make wood drawers glide smooth

Written by chyrene pendleton
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How to make wood drawers glide smooth
Rub the wooden drawer slides with a candle for smooth gliding drawers. (Candle image by elmgrover from

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.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

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

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  1. 1

    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.

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    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.

Tips and warnings

  • 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.

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