DIY: How To Make Old Wood Drawers Slide Easier


Hi Guys – Well after a long and grueling Sunday of peeling blue tape off the roll and laying down plastic I have learned the meaning of prep.  And oh how I’ve grown to hate that word.  Prep.  Eeerrrr.  See, after a weekend of prepping the upstairs for paint, we didn’t even make it to the painting part.  So the Ravenna House is covered in a shroud of plastic.  And no paint. Not exactly the makings of beautiful painted wall pictures I was hoping to share with you today.
Here’s a progress shot of the window masking:
Yeah.  Anyway.  Let’s move on.  I’ll tell you all about the prep and the pain(t) sprayer another day when the words blue-tape and plastic don’t make me grind my teeth.
So let’s talk drawers.  All-wood. Easy-gliding. Smooth. Wonderful. Joyful drawers.  See I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about dressers and built-in-drawers of a certain age.  We’ve got a lot of those around here.  They look really nice.  And they are solid.  Plus they’ve lasted 80+ years so I know they’re well made.  But they are a real b^#*$ to open. They stick.  They grind. They take two strong hands to open.  Of course I can’t get rid of them or replace them with some cheap crap.  Cause that would be wrong.  That would cut me straight to the soul.
So, what to do.
Well it turns out that there’s an easy fix.  My years of frustration and ground teeth were all for not.  It could have been fixed with $0.90 and a trip to the drug store.  Let’s consider this my first DIY on the Grit and Polish blog.  Here I’ll make it official:
DIY: How To Make Old Wood Drawers Slide Easier
Cool. Ready?
For this DIY, I’m taking you over to The Bryant House. That’s where we live now. It’s a 1920 craftsman that has 2 bedrooms, a renovated bath and kitchen, and just 790sf of finished space.  Yeah, try fitting two full-grown-adults, an energetic 65-pound dog, and a baby plus their swings, bikes, and toys in 790sf! But that’s another post entirely.  Back to the drawers…
Step 1: Roll up your sleeves.  What’s that? You’ve got a baby tugging on your pant legs too? Well put him in the jumping johny.  Maybe toss a binky in there.  Okay, now roll up your sleeves.
We’ve got this.
Step 2: Pull out your drawers and arrange them so you can access the underside.
Now grab a bar of soap.  I used a classic bar of Ivory, because that’s just the kind of family we are.  But really any bar of soap will do.
Step 3: Rub said bar of soap across all wood sliding surfaces on the drawers and in the cabinet/dresser.  Don’t be shy – give it a good, strong rub.  This is one of those more is better situations.
Okay, that’s it!  Slide the drawer back into place and pick up the baby. We’re done!
That wasn’t so bad, right?  Give those drawers a try.  Better, right?  Yeah they’re not brand-new soft-close drawers, but they’re better, right!  And for $0.90 and 5 minutes, I’d say that’s pretty darn great!
What’s that?  You like the drawer hardware.  It’s a Martha Stewart classic and you can find it at your local Home Depot (here).
It’s a good thing I came across this solution (from The Farmers Nest here) when I did because I’ve got a lot more sticky drawers in my future.
Did you catch that?  Yeah, it’s a new dresser that I picked up on Craigslist for Wilder’s new nursery. Lot’s of soon-to-be-smooth drawers in this piece.  What’s that?  Oh you think she’s kinda dingy?  Well just hold on a sec (read: couple months).  Not sure if I’m going to paint her or give her a new coat of stain, but she’ll be looking lovely before you know it!
p.s. It’s been electronic anarchy around this household.  First our MacBook Air crapped out (she’s still in the shop), then I dropped my iPhone into the toilet.  Before I flushed.  Too much information?  Yeah, I thought so.  Anyway, no phone for a week.
p.p.s. I’m secretly digging the way the blue tape and plastic looks in the windows.  So graphic and ethereal.  Of course I’ll be digging a fresh coat of paint even more…
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  1. your idea worked. However, it would have been a more effective article had you gotten straight to the answer of the issue.

  2. Thanks!
    And i really liked the way you put it into words. Don’t let the partypoopers get to you 😉

  3. It’s a blog. That’s what blogging is about. Being cutesy with your wording. Get over it. People are so negative!

    Anyway, totally doing this with my new to me antique dresser! Thanks!

  4. Haha Craig.. Go to a different page that will tell you the same thing if you dont like it.. No need to try and beat on others blogs and pages. Just move on and shut your mouth.

    This was funny. Loved it. Good job. And thank you!

  5. I usually feel the same way as Craig but I actually enjoyed reading your explanation! It was fun, funny & made me feel like I’m not the only one who doesn’t always have my projects workout exactly when & how I think they should 🙂 Thanks for the drawer sliding tip…I’ll try it

  6. SOAP for old drawers. I LOVE old fashioned remedies. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! 🙂

  7. Hello love this ! My house circa1890 lol original every thing ! I used Irish spring soap got the cleanest smelling kitchen in the neighborhood ..thank you. Love the blog

  8. Very nice, I’ll use it on the old kitchen piece i just rescued. Thanks for the share

  9. Thanks. It really worked !!!!
    The least people like Craig’s and Anonymous can do is to spare us such uncharitable comments and unsolicited advice.

    • I have a 90 yr old chest of drawers. I CANNOT open the bottom one. I will try what you said as I don’t want to damage it.
      Sorry you had to endure negative people..

  10. I just made a cabinet and put in sliding wooden doors – I’m going to try this to encourage them to slide easier – thanks. And if it doesn’t work? Well, it’ll smell nicer anyway!

  11. Thanks for the tip! It worked! Oh and yes the smell from the soap was a bonus!

  12. Soap for drawers! Yes thanks it works! I knew there was a solution out there, thanks so much for posting.

  13. soap will work but bees wax works even better. Try your local bee keeper or if you don’t know one, Walmart can order Murray’s Bees Wax for you and you can pick it up from store with no shipping. If you order from them be sure you order the cake form.

  14. Larry Stewart says:

    Great fix, thank you! FYI..soap works on a squeaky fan belt too (until it can be changed or tightened)

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