DIY: How to Fix Sticky Drawers

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Fighting with a dresser drawer that sticks can be frustrating and can result in damage to the dresser. Learn how to fix sticky drawers in your home.

Fix Sticky Drawers

One easy solution to fix sticky drawers is to use thumbtacks, as shown here.

Waking up every morning and having to fight with a stuck dresser drawer is a bad way to start the day. Sticky drawers can be one of the most frustrating of domestic disputes and, when left unaddressed, these little annoyances can evolve into real damage: the handles can break, and the drawers themselves may come apart. Rather than go the costly route and replace your dresser with a newer model with drawers that don’t stick, extend its life by taking these three steps right now to fix sticky drawers.

  • Take the sticky drawers out and look at the edges. Are there any shiny spots? Those are the areas that stick. Sand them down with some coarse sandpaper, and they should be fine.
  • If your drawer usually holds books or other heavy items, the frame of the sticky drawer may need to be lubricated. Rub the drawer frame — the spots where the drawer glides into the frame — with candle wax, paraffin, or even an old bar of soap to give it a little extra glide. You can also spray them with a product such ad WD-40.
  • If you take the drawer out, you may notice that the glide — the narrow piece of wood which the drawer glides shut — is missing or worn down. If it’s missing, the drawer will drag. You can fix this sticky drawer and give it a lift by pushing three or four thumbtacks along the glide. It should then open and close with ease.

Other problems around the house? Check out these other helpful articles:
How to Repair Torn Upholstery
Remove White Rings from Wood Furniture | Repair Stains, Dents & Rings
How to Get Scratches out of Wood

  • Brenda

    Hi Paul,
    We don’t have anyone on staff who is qualified to help you with this problem, but perhaps some of our readers will chime in with their ideas. Good luck finding a solution!

  • I have an old (probably more than 100 years) dresser with drawers that have bowed sides (front to back). This causes sticking as there is no overhang on the front panel.

    Ideas I have considered:

    1) sawing a sliver off with a table saw (using two passes per end, the second flipped over)
    2) planing off the high part (unfortunately, I don’t have a very good plane).
    3) placing a 2×4 inside the drawer at either end, and using screws to align the bowed panel with the straight 2×4 (not very elegant)

    Any comments/suggestions you have would be appreciated.

    I have also considered replacing the bowed pieces. They are attached to the front panel with a rabbet cut into the front panel. (Attached with square nails!). All four sides are 3/4″ thick.


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