How To Make Wood Drawers Slide Easier [Simple Fix]

Several things can cause drawers to get sticky so they are difficult to open. When the drawers do not slide properly, there is a risk that they could fall due to not being properly fastened. Luckily, with a few techniques and a few tools, I will give you steps on how to make wood drawers slide easier.

Steps to make wood drawers slide easier:

1. First, check the guides for any paper or other material that has jammed the drawer and may prevent it from sliding properly. When a drawer jams and does not open, we must not force it. A good option is to pass a bar of moistened bath soap along the sides of the drawer, spreading the product with a cloth. Thus, we will get it to slide as before.

2. Drawers that don’t run well fare worse in wet weather because the wood fibers swell. To remedy this, we will rub the outside of the drawer with candle wax.

3. If this fails, we can roughen the wood on the sides of the drawer a bit with coarse sandpaper, sanding in the direction of the grain. If you need to take more drastic action, use medium-grade sandpaper on wood rails to remove any burrs or small obstacles. Do it lightly and test the drawer by pushing it in and out after the sand just a little bit.

4. After the drawer slides easily, put the sandpaper away and seal the edge with a wood sealer, varnish, or paint to prevent moisture from being absorbed. (While out of the drawer, lubricate the rails and guides on the side of the drawer.)

5. After sanding, rub in soap, candle wax, or beeswax for lubrication. We can also go over the sides of the hole in the table where the drawer is housed with a scraper. In this way, we will eliminate possible remains of wax or varnish. Then we will clean the surface with a cloth and solvent.

6. Check the hardware to see if it is damaged, if a screw is missing or loose, or if the screw has stripped the wood or enlarged the hole. If the rails are metal or plastic, look for clogs, dents in metal, or cracks in plastic and loose metal parts.

7. Realign the side rails: If a wood rail is out of alignment, you will need a small square, wood glue, wood filler, a screwdriver, and recessed screws. This is what to do: Using the square, check that the rails are perpendicular to the front of the box.

8. Straighten the side rail. Fix it with the recessed screws. Put glue behind the rail to attach it to the sides of the chest or cabinet. Lubricate the rails with wax or soap.

9. Finish the job by matching the color of the entire surface with a wood stain. In this way, in addition to making the drawer work correctly, we will have improved its appearance.

Helpful TIP!
Metal rails slide much better if you carefully spray some WD 40 into the gaps. At the same time, this spray oil prevents rust from building up on the metal. Therefore, especially with bathroom or kitchen cabinets, you should attach them to all metal rails when assembling them.

Method 1: Make Wood Drawers Slide Easier with Candle Wax or Paraffin Candles

How To Make Wood Drawers Slide Easier with Candle Wax

Who does not have a candle at home? Commonly, we keep at least one in case the power goes out but you can also use them to fix a drawer that does not slide properly.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. First, remove the drawer from the furniture and take the candle wax.
  2. Cut it in half and rub the rails, that is, the mechanism that slides the drawer that is inside the furniture.
  3. Rub the area of ​​the drawer that comes into contact with the rails and the area of ​​the furniture where the drawer fits.
  4. Put the drawer back and you will see how it slides without problems.

One recommendation: choose beeswax candles as they are more effective. If you can’t find beeswax candles , you can also use paraffin candle wax.

Method 2: Make Wood Drawers Slide Easier Using Soap

A second alternative, in the case that there are no candles at home, to fix a drawer that does not slide is to use a bar of soap. You must pass it through the rails, the drawer and the furniture following the same method as the candle.

Making your drawer slide again is very easy and you will wonder why you did not fix it sooner. The first thing you should do is remove the drawer completely from the furniture and take a piece of candle or any of the elements mentioned above. 

Rub the soap all over the surface that comes into contact with the furniture when it slides, that is, the rails. Once you finish with the drawer, you should continue with the furniture, rubbing the area where the drawer fits. 

When it’s ready, put it in place and see for yourself how well it glides now. Easy, fast and without spending money. Repeat the operation periodically.

Use a damp cloth to wipe the soap and don’t forget to wipe it on the sides as well. You will see how your drawer will slide without a problem.

You can follow this method periodically to prevent it from getting stuck again. With a simple pass your drawers will move smoothly and without jams.

Do you want to remove candle wax from your wooden furniture? Or you want to get rid of unwanted wax spots that appear on your furniture? Don’t worry I have a step by step guide which will show you everything!

Method 3: Make Wood Drawers Slide Easier Using Sandpaper

One of the reasons why drawers can slide badly or get stuck occurs when the wood has swollen due to the effect of humidity. Then the drawers do not run so it is best to sand the parts of the drawer that are more worn with sandpaper. 

Use a coarse-grained sandpaper as they are much more effective in these cases, although make sure that the passes are smooth so as not to sand excessively. The sanding of the drawer can be done in different spots depending on the case.

 You just have to make sure you press it down and test from time to time to see if the drawer is unstuck. If not, resume work until there is no more blockage and you can easily slide the wooden drawer.

If you have sap on your wooden drawers or your furniture now is the perfect time to remove it. Follow these easy step-by-step instructions!

Method 4: Make Wood Drawers Slide more easily using Self-adhesive tape

If you’re looking for a long-term solution to fixing a drawer that won’t slide properly, cover the areas of the drawer and furniture that come into contact when the drawer slides with a piece of self-adhesive tape.

First, you must clean the drawer, the cabinet and the rails very well to remove any dirt that could adhere to the tape, otherwise, the dirt will not allow it to stick well. Then sand and finally apply the tape to alleviate the friction areas of the furniture.

The self-adhesive nylon tape lubricates the friction surfaces, therefore, it will make your drawers open and close easily. This tape can be purchased at woodworking or hardware stores and is inexpensive. 

You should only apply it on the drawer and the furniture, on the parts that come into contact when the drawer slides. It is a more durable option than the previous one and sometimes definitive. 

Keep in mind that the adhesive tape will not stick to dirt or candle wax (if you’ve used that method before) so you will need to sand the surfaces before sticking if they are not clean.

Want to remove tape residue from wood in 5 simple ways? Then you show check this easy guide I wrote!

How do you get wooden drawers unstuck?

Type of drawersHow to unstuck them
1. Drawers with guide rails made of wood (Wooden Slides)Remove the drawer from the piece of furniture and remove any dust if necessary.
You can now use a candle, hard soap or Vaseline to prevent the drawer from jamming.
When choosing, just look at what you have of the things mentioned in the house.
Now rub the running strip and the matching counterpart on the drawer with it.
The chosen agent acts like grease and ensures that the drawer can be opened again easily.
You can repeat the process regularly to prevent the drawer from jamming.
2. Drawers with metal guide rails(ball bearing slides)First, check whether paper or something similar has become wedged in the metal rail. 
If so, remove it and the drawer should open easily again.
Then check whether the metal rails are still properly attached to the furniture and to the drawer. 
Sometimes the constant opening and closing of the drawer will loosen the screws. 
Reattach the rails.
Spray some WD 40 in the spaces between the rails. 
Then the drawer should run smoothly again.

How do I make my drawers slide easier?

If you can no longer resist the urge to break the drawer because it locks every time you want to open or close it, use this technique that will allow you to move it as if it were automatic. If the drawer is made of wood, smear it with a white candle or glycerin soap. For the case in which the guides are metallic, it is best to use petroleum jelly. After this, the problems will surely end and the drawer will continue healthy as if it were new.

To get the drawers to slide easier follow these steps:

  1. The first thing is to take them out and turn them over. Next, rub the guides with candle wax or some soapy bread.
  2. If the guides of your drawers are made of petroleum jelly, the ideal is to smear them with petroleum jelly.
  3. If after applying these solutions your drawers are still stuck, you will have to take the drawers out again to pass sandpaper through the guides, since they are rubbing somewhere.
  4. You can also go over the interior guides with a scraper or spatula, to remove traces of paint or dried varnish.
  5. When you’re done, reapply the previous products, the candle wax, soap, or petroleum jelly.

How to prevent wood drawers from jamming?

To prevent your drawer from jamming, you should clean the side rails and drawer rails regularly. Dust, hair or wood chips can accumulate again and again due to the constant opening and closing and cause blockages:

  • Take the drawer out of the furniture several times a year and wipe the strips in the furniture and on the drawer with a damp cloth.
  • Remove any unevenness or protruding wood chips with sandpaper and wipe the strips well again.
  • Wipe the strips dry before you put the drawer back in the socket.
  • Even drawers that are too full can block opening and closing. Therefore, do not put too much into a compartment and allow about two centimeters of air at the top.
  • Also, make sure that bulky content cannot get caught. A tea towel wrapped over it ensures, for example, that wooden spoons, scissors or similar things cannot get caught.


As you can see, it is not so difficult to repair a drawer that does not slide. It is not necessary to use saws or tools of this type that could permanently damage the drawer, with a little patience we know how to make wood drawers slide easier.

Adrian Tapu

Adrian is a seasoned woodworking with over 15 years of experience. He helps both beginners and professionals expand their skills in areas like furniture making, cabinetry, wood joints, tools and techniques. Through his popular blog, Adrian shares woodworking tips, tutorials and plans related to topics such as wood identification, hand tools, power tools and finishing.

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