Old Dresser Drawers Won’t Slide

Nothing’s more annoying than pulling on a drawer only to find that your old dresser drawers won’t slide very well at all! But don’t worry, we’ve got some simple and helpful tips on how to fix old dresser drawers that stick so you’ll be able to get those drawers sliding smoothly again in no time.

Old drawers won’t slide for a few different reasons, and you gotta check out your own specific drawer situation to determine the best way to get it moving as it should. So keep reading and see what works to fix your dresser drawers!

photo of hard to slide drawer with text overlay

You may find that the drawer itself is warped or out of alignment. This can happen due to changes in temperature and humidity, causing the wood to expand or contract. If this is the case, it will definitely affect its ability to slide smoothly.

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But if the drawer is in good condition, then the next step is to inspect the tracks. Look for any obstructions that may be preventing the drawer from sliding. Dust, dirt, and grime can build up over time, and there may also be objects wedged in there.

So it’s important to check both the dresser drawer and dresser track so you can figure out what’s causing the sticking. If it turns out that the drawer tracks are the ones in bad shape, you can learn how to fix broken dresser drawer tracks here.

How to Remove Dresser Drawers

First, you’ll need to remove the dresser drawers to check for the problem, and then fix it. Most of these really old dressers don’t have a track system at all, making them super simple to remove. You just slide them out.

But newer dressers usually come with a track system on the bottom or the sides of the drawers. Most of the time a simple, strong tug will get the drawers unstuck. Be careful not to pull too hard, though! You don’t want to damage the drawer or track, or hurt yourself.

**Before you give the drawer a good tug though, pull the drawer out as far as it will go, and then take a look under the drawer.

There may be a little latch or lever that needs to be pushed towards the bottom of the drawer to release the drawer. If the track system is on the side of the dresser drawers, pull the drawer out as far as it will go, and then look in the track for a plastic lever.

If you find a little lever, push it up or down on both sides of the drawer, and then give the drawer a little tug. It should easily come out of the dresser. And there you go, you’ve just successfully removed the dresser drawer!

How to Fix Old Dresser Drawers that Stick

Once you have your broken drawers removed, you can begin to fix it. Follow the steps below to tackle your sticking drawers.

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Wax the Drawer Tracks

The easiest and fastest way to fix old dresser drawers that stick is to put some wax on the tracks, or on the parts that slide against each other. If you think about it, wood against wood doesn’t seem like it would create the best environment for sliding, right?

applying wax on the drawer tracks

But a slick surface against another slick surface would make things a lot easier. And wax does just that. Once both surfaces have been given a healthy coating of wax, the drawers will slide in and out much easier.

applying wax to the drawer tracks with a cheap chip brush

Use a cheap chip brush to brush the wax onto the bottom of the drawer track and on the runner. Apply liberally! You can also rub a candle against the drawer tracks, or you could also use furniture wax or a bar of soap to make the old dresser drawers slide easier.

This only works if there is nothing else preventing the drawers from sliding in and out. If waxing doesn’t work, your drawer runners might be worn out. You can learn how to repair worn drawer runners here if this is the case for you.

Make Sure Nothing is Obstructing the Drawer Track

If waxing doesn’t help much, turn the drawer over and see if there is anything keeping the drawer from sliding in and out easily. There may be a nail sticking out of the bottom of the drawer, or the side of the dresser. It only takes one small thing to block the drawer from opening and closing.

removing nails that stick out of the drawer

In this case, there was a nail sticking out of the drawer track. That nail was causing damage to the drawer track as well! I made sure that the nail wasn’t holding anything before I removed it with a pair of pliers.

Try Sanding the Drawer and Track

Sometimes, it’s not the obstruction or lack of wax that’s causing the drawer to not slide. It could be that the wood on the drawer or the track has swollen due to humidity, or it’s simply worn out over time. In this case, sanding the surface can help.

photo of repairing and sanding drawer track

Use medium grit sandpaper to gently sand the areas where the drawer and track come into contact. Remember, the goal is not to remove a lot of material but to smooth out the surfaces. Here’s our sandpaper for furniture painting blog post for all the details you need to know on choosing the right sandpaper for your project.

Once you’re done sanding, be sure to remove all the dust before waxing or using the drawer again. Clean up the dust and debris with a vacuum and tack cloth, then reapply wax if necessary. Learn more about this process and how it works in our old dresser drawers hard to open post.

Check for Misaligned Drawers

Another thing that can cause drawers to stick is misalignment. Over time, the drawer’s alignment can shift or sag, causing it to not fit properly in its slot. You can check for this by looking at the gaps between the drawer and the dresser. Check out this guide on how to fix sagging dresser drawers here.

checking for misaligned drawers

If the gaps are uneven, the drawer is likely misaligned. Fixing misaligned drawers can be a bit more involved, as it might require adjusting the runners or the tracks. But with a little patience and some basic tools, you can definitely get it done.

Maintain the Drawers Regularly

Lastly, regular maintenance can prevent drawers from sticking in the first place. Make it a habit to check your drawers every few months. Clean out any debris, apply wax to the tracks, and fix any small problems before they turn into big ones.

It doesn’t take too much time or skill to fix old dresser drawers that stick. By waxing the tracks, making sure nothing is obstructing the drawer track, sanding the drawer and track, checking for misaligned drawers, and maintaining the drawers regularly, you’ll be amazed at how easily old dresser drawers can still slide!

So give these solutions a try and hopefully, after following them, your dresser drawers are sliding like a dream! No more sticking, no more pulling hard – just nice and easy sliding.

How do you replace old wooden drawer slides?

If you think the drawer slides are beyond repair, or if the drawer still won’t glide smoothly after you’ve tried everything, it might be time for a replacement. Here’s how you can replace old wooden drawer slides or runners.

First, you’ll need to measure the length of your old drawer slides and cut new ones to that same length from a piece of wood. Make sure to use wood that can withstand the weight of your drawers. Then sand down the edges of the new slides to smooth out any roughness.

After removing the old slides, set the new ones in place and secure them with wood glue and a brad nailer. Make sure they are evenly aligned and positioned correctly before securing them down. You don’t want to have to redo this step later on!

Once you’ve got the new slides in, give the drawer a test slide to check it’s all smooth. If anything’s off, you might need to go back and adjust the placement of the slides. But if everything looks good, you can confidently put your drawers back in and enjoy their newfound smoothness!

Remember to maintain the drawer and slides from now on to prevent future sliding and sticking issues. And if needed, you can always refer back to this guide for troubleshooting tips.

more Dresser Drawers Repair Tips

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