In the workshop- How to unstick drawers



My mom told me about this antique cream dresser that was for sale.  As you may know, it is increasingly difficult to find painted furniture with that natural chippy paint that takes place over time. I took one look at the photos my mom sent to me and contacted the seller.

When I went to view the piece, I was simultaneously in love and a bit discouraged.  First, she had the cutest little wheels!!!  Any antique furniture with wheels basically melts my heart. However, I noticed that one of the drawers was not functioning and was not pulling out smoothly.  It was a bit wonky and clearly was not setting in the dresser correctly. Such a bummer.

Regardless, I decided to take a chance because I thought with a little TLC and time, I could fix her up.  She was such a beautiful old piece that I had to take her home. Plus she had these stunning antique glass handle pulls.  Who can walk away from those?

Once home, I put her on saw horses and went to work.  First, I removed decades of grime and cleaned not only on the outside but also the interior of the piece.  Finding spiders that live in old furniture is a serious downside to this vocation. While cleaning, I figured out why one of the drawers wasn’t working.  There was no rail on the interior right side to support the drawer.  So, I quickly took some measurements and dashed off to the local hardware store.

As you can see below, I was able to reconstruct the drawer rail.  Then I attached it, glued it, clamped it and let it sit overnight.



Here is a photo of the reconstructed rail. The larger board on the bottom supports the drawer while the smaller piece on top guides the drawer as it slides in and out.



As a point of comparison, here is the rail on the opposite side.



Can you see how the right side incorporates the new wood?

This fix seemed to work well but was still not solving the problem entirely.  There were points where all the drawers seemed to stick.  They needed an extra tug so they could be pulled out.

Nonfunctioning drawers are a pet peeve of mine.  They drive me bonkers.

I decided to take all the drawers out and diagnose the problem. This is what I found. Perhaps, because it is summer and the wood was a bit more swollen than normal, or perhaps because the drawers had not been used in many years, or perhaps for both reasons – there were some spots on the drawers that rubbed against the rails causing excess friction and binding.

Now, I know you can use soap and bees wax to reduce friction on the rails.  That is a great temporary fix, but eventually the same problem returns. So, this was a great opportunity to try one of my secret weapons in fixing drawers

Let me introduce you to Abrasion Resistant Acrylic Adhesive tape, also known as UHMW tape. This tape creates a “slip plane” which ensures frictionless contact.  I like to refer to it as pure magic.  Apply the sticky side of the “tape” to the rails, and if necessary repeat this on the outer edge of the drawers.  I found that in most cases, simply applying the abrasion resistant tape to the rail worked perfectly.

This took me all of 20 minutes to apply and voila! The drawers work seamlessly.  No more sticking. No more binding or sticking of drawers.

You may have noticed that one of her handles on the bottom drawer looks more like a knob.  Well, yes,  True.  I ordered her another glass handle pull to remedy this situation.



I also ordered her a couple of replacement wheels.  A couple of her wheels had rusted shut and simply weren’t functional.

I am eagerly awaiting these items to arrive so I can fully fix her up and then I will take her to Stone Soup.

Here are some final photos of her as she awaits her new hardware.





Thank you for stopping by the blog today to see what is happening in this corner of the internet.




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