How to Repair Worn Drawer Runners

There’s nothing more annoying than trying to open a drawer only to find it stuck shut. Not only is this an annoyance, but it can also be dangerous if the runner (the part of the dresser that the drawer slides in and out on) is worn down or missing. If you’re dealing with old dressers like these, then you’ll need to know how to fix old dresser drawers that stick and how to repair worn drawer runners.

This guide will show you the basics of fixing a drawer runner, so you can get your drawers opening and closing smoothly again!

photo of repairing drawer runners with text overlay

A drawer runner is an essential piece of a dresser to make your drawers work properly. It’s what makes drawers slide in and out easily and smoothly. Over time, old dressers have wear and tear, and these drawer runners can become worn or even break.

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We know fixing old dresser drawers is not the most exciting of tasks, but trust us when we say that it is definitely worth the effort. You’ll be able to make your dresser drawers run like they did when they were brand new!

We’ll go over some tips on how to spot a worn runner, the repair process, and ways to prevent it from happening again. So grab your tools and let’s get to work!

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How to Repair Worn Drawer Runners

First, you have to identify if your runner needs repair. On old dressers like these, you may find that the drawer runner is very worn or even missing.

This is the part of the dresser that the drawer slides in and out on. If you feel resistance when opening and closing the drawers, then chances are the runner is damaged.

This one in particular was breaking off a little bit on top, but it didn’t look major.

In this case, the runner was very worn down. A nail had been damaging it, and it was about to break. Surprisingly though, that small amount of break was holding up the drawer whenever we opened and closed it.

photo of broken drawer runner

Now, measure and remove the old runner. You’ll want to take careful measurements of the runner so that you can cut an exact match for your new piece of wood. Once you have all your measurements, carefully remove the old runner with a saw.

I used a multi tool saw to get in this tight space and remove the part of the drawer runner that was damaged, without removing the rest of the structure.

broken part of drawer runner removed

Then you can cut a piece of wood to a similar shape to replace the runner!

So using the multi tool saw again, cut and shape a piece of wood that matches the measurements of the old runner. Then use wood glue and a brad nailer to secure the new drawer runner into place.

Be sure to take your time and make sure that the runner is positioned correctly before gluing and nailing it down.

The drawer slides in and out so much easier now!

Sometimes though, the problem is the opposite of this one! Learn how to fix old dresser drawers from falling out in this post.

Tips and Reminders on Repairing Worn Drawer Runners

Alright, when it comes to replacing a worn-out runner, size matters. Take some measurements to find that perfect fit.

Remember, measure twice, cut once! If you don’t measure well, then the runner won’t fit in properly and could cause more problems down the road. A trusty tape measure will be your best buddy in this situation.

Once you’ve removed the old runner, it’s time to bring in a fresh piece of wood. But hold on, not just any wood will do. You need something sturdy that can handle the weight of the drawer and its contents.

It’s also important to be patient when repairing a drawer runner as it requires precision and accuracy. Taking your time in this step will make sure that the job is done properly the first time around.

But just a heads up – this might not be the only issue your drawer is facing. Check out our other posts on fixing old dresser drawers such as old dressers hard to open and old dresser drawers won’t slide.

Troubleshooting and Prevention

Once you’ve replaced the runner, it’s important to check the rest of the dresser for any other potential issues. For instance, if the drawer track is loose or damaged, it can be difficult to open and close drawers correctly.

You can learn how to fix broken dresser drawer tracks in this post.

photo of repairing drawer track

Also, regular maintenance is key to making sure your drawer runner lasts a long time. Try inspecting the drawer runner on a regular basis. Check for any signs of damage or problems and take care of them right away.

You should also check for falling out drawer bottoms and if you want a guide to fix it, here’s how to fix a drawer bottom that falls out!

Lastly, make sure that the drawers are not overloaded, as this can cause excessive strain on the runners and cause them to give out prematurely.

What type of wood is the best for replacing drawer runners?

Hard wood is the best because it is stronger than soft wood and more resistant to wear. Oak, cherry, maple, walnut, and mahogany are some of the most popular hardwoods for use in drawer runners.

Soft woods such as pine or cedar can also work well but may not last as long.

Do I need any special tools to replace the drawer runner?

The tools listed above are the basic tools you need.

Depending on the type of wood you use, and how well you cut your wood, you may also need sandpaper or other tools for smoothing out any rough edges. Make sure that you have glue and nails handy to secure the new runner in place.

You can use different tools that are similar if you have them!

How long does the adhesive need to dry before I can use the drawer again?

The adhesive should be dry in about 24 hours, but it is best to wait 48 hours just to be sure. This is so the adhesive has had enough time to bond and create a strong connection between the drawer runner and the dresser frame.

If you have enough nails with the glue, you can start using the drawer right away. But letting the adhesive dry before using the drawer runner will help it work properly.

How much does it typically cost to replace drawer runners?

The cost of replacing drawer runners will depend on the type and size of the runner you need, as well as the cost of materials. But don’t worry, it shouldn’t break the bank to replace a single drawer runner.

If you have the tools, it is a pretty cheap fix! Without any tools, it can easily cost over $100 in just tools to remove, cut, and insert the new runner.

Replacing a worn out drawer runner is pretty straightforward. If you take your time and have the right measurements, materials, and tools, it’s easy to do.

It’s also important to check for any other issues that may be affecting your drawers such as broken track or overloading of contents. Regular maintenance and inspection can help prevent these problems in the future.

And if you need help with an issue that isn’t covered in this post, don’t forget to check out our other posts such as how to fix a dresser drawer side or even about dresser drawer bottom replacement.

We hope these help get your dresser drawers back into tip top shape!

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