Asked on Oct 05, 2016

Why are the drawers of my newly painted bedside cabinets sticking?

I have just painted my solid wood, dovetail jointed, 3 drawer bedside chests with chalk style paint. I have painted them on the inside too and given them a wax topcoat.
When trying to put the drawers back I can't get the bottom drawer to go in properly. They go so far then jam tightly, and now feel as if they are too big.
Anyone know how I can fix this?
  14 answers
  • Johnchip Johnchip on Oct 05, 2016
    Are you sure it is the right drawer in the right slot?

    • CountrylovingalUK CountrylovingalUK on Oct 06, 2016
      Thank You Johnchip, I did try to keep them in the correct order, but I've tried all drawers in and it's just the 2 bottom drawers that won't go in properly. I'm hoping it will resolve itself once properly dried out.

  • Karen Hilpisch Karen Hilpisch on Oct 06, 2016
    If the paint was water based the wood has probably swollen due to the added moisture content of the wood. Once the wood dries out the drawers should once again fit.

    • See 1 previous
    • Francesca B Francesca B on Jun 19, 2018
      Hi I'm having same issue. My drawers have been dried now for a month or more! While I worked on the rest of furniture. They would not go in a while ago,( I rubbed vaseline on both sides still won't go!) and now I'm completely done and they still won't go in. I'm going to try paraffin oil.

  • Country Design Home Country Design Home on Oct 06, 2016
    Hi Lynn- first make sure that all of the drawers are in the correct spaces. They may all look the same, but they are not quite the same- one could be a bit warped or have a joint swollen from the moisture of the paint and wax. Also, tap together all the drawer joints to make sure that they are flush and even all the way around. If that doesn't work, then you can try a couple of things before you have to start sanding/cutting. Rub down all the outside edges with steel wool to remove any excess paint or wax. Do the same to the inside runners on the dresser where the drawer should fit. If that doesn't work, then try running candle wax along the runners of the drawer, which will allow it to glide more smoothly. If If none of that works, then a little sanding might do the trick. Good luck!

    • CountrylovingalUK CountrylovingalUK on Oct 06, 2016
      Thank You Sue@CountryDesignHome, wow...great information, I'll start at the beginning and work my way through. kind regards, Lynn

  • Lindy Lindy on Oct 06, 2016
    Yes this happened to me- The drawers looked the same, but sure weren't! A couple of mm's can make a difference it seems. Otherwise, try rubbing soap or a wax candle along the runners.

  • Carol Carol on Oct 06, 2016
    Other HT's have given good advice here. Be sure to let us know what worked for you. Your units sound lovely.

  • Rosy Rosy on Oct 06, 2016
    Drawers may not be in correct place or may have swelled some. Try letting them dry out a little more. I use spray lemon pledge on the bottom of my drawers and on the runners on the inside of the cabinets and makes them glide much smoother.

    • CountrylovingalUK CountrylovingalUK on Oct 07, 2016
      Thank You Ttoille1949 They've been painted for a couple of weeks now so I'm gonna try all the helpful tips you've all given me and see what happens!!

  • Darla Darla on Oct 06, 2016
    That has happened to me when I either put the paint on too thick or its still not dry.

  • Sandra Allen Sandra Allen on Oct 07, 2016
    If, after you rearrange them, they still stick a little...use some cheap soap and rub them on the runners. It always helps!!

  • G G on Oct 08, 2016
    Try rubbing some candle wax in the track

  • Carey Carey on Oct 19, 2016
    Candle wax on the track and anywhere that the drawer appears to be dragging. The paint may have enlarged the drawer just enough to rub on the top of the sides or on the drawer sides themselves. If that is the case, you should be able to see where they touch as you push it in. Rearranging the drawers would also be my FIRST effort. They can look exactly the same but still be just a tad different and that can cause bid trouble. My husband always wrote on the bottom of the drawer the placement of it for that reason.

    • CountrylovingalUK CountrylovingalUK on Oct 19, 2016
      Thanks Carey...I've tried candle wax, tapping all the joints together again, but everything I tried failed. I've had to sand both sides of the offending drawers just enough for them to go back. I didn't want to do it too much so just sanded a bit at a time until I was satisfied. I guess the drawers swelled after painting and failed to shrink back enough. I've actually done what you suggested and marked each drawer! kind regards, Lynn

  • Carey Carey on Oct 20, 2016
    Well Lynn, it sounds like you found the solution that worked. Water based paints always add moisture to bare wood and that can be a recipe for this kind of swelling. One thing that I accidentally discovered was that when I was trying to get a dresser sanded really smooth and it had become more work that I was bargaining for, I remembered wasching a man refinish his rifle butt when I was a teenager. He moistened the wood and it raised the grain then he would hold it over a hot stove burner to raise the grain and then sand it smooth. I couldn't hold the dresser over a burner, so I thought, what is the next best thing? An iron! I moistened the top of the dresser, then Ironed it smooth. I was amazed that it came out so smooth that it was amazing! Nicest finish ever! and easy to boot!!!!

    • See 2 previous
    • Carey Carey on Dec 06, 2016
      And no, it did not harm my iron. I used a moist towel and ironed it on the wood, then Gently sanded that moistened wood. Then I found that by just ironing it, I didn't have to sand so much.

  • Elaine Gillis Elaine Gillis on Jun 19, 2017
    Did you find a solution as I am having same problem. Used a fusion paint too

  • Melissa June Hobbs Melissa June Hobbs on Jul 30, 2019

    I have read all these comments thank you and have swapped my drawers as they clearly were in the wrong places. Then I smudged Vaseline around the drawer sliders and indents in the drawers where the drawers slide across the sliders. They now work like a dream!

  • Scott Lane Scott Lane on Dec 08, 2019

    Why is it when I remove to hinges from a cabinet to paint the cabinet the doors never fit properly once the hinges have been reinstalled. I learned to mark the position of each hinge before I remove them.