Asked on Aug 20, 2015

How do I unstick a drawer in an antique oak dresser?

by Melody
I have an antique serpentine dresser that was stored in a basement. I think the wood has swelled. One of the top drawers is stuck. I've tried everything I can think of, jiggling, from underneath, and even tapping it. It is totally jammed.
  12 answers
  • Leanore Leanore on Aug 21, 2015
    I had a similar problem and someone suggested using a very little spray of DW-40 with the little red straw thing. I let that sit for about 5 minutes and the drawer gave way. Once unstuck I was told to coat the runners on the side and the bottom with candle wax. It worked like magic but I have to refresh the wax every 6 to 8 months or so. Hope this works for you.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Aug 21, 2015
    I would reccomend letting the furniture totally dry out so the swelling goes down Then try to open the draw. It has worked for me in the past.
  • Chris Leckington Chris Leckington on Aug 21, 2015
    I have used BeesWax on all the furniture that I have had with this problem. Just give it a good rub and whalaa, no more sticking. You might have to do it again later, but I keep a big chunk around all the time for things like this.
  • 1728226 1728226 on Aug 21, 2015
    Get some ski wax and rub on it
  • Terry McMullen Terry McMullen on Aug 22, 2015
    My husband does a lot of repairs on antiques, and he uses paraffin (like wax used for canning vegetables) on the bottom of the drawers. It works great to get them to glide. Also, you might make sure that the board that the drawer slides on is not broken.
  • 266335 266335 on Aug 25, 2015
    If swelling is not the problem, try removing the back panel carefully, make sure there is nothing stuck in the drawer. Once the panel is off you can check to see if anything is broken that may need to be repaired. Then wax the runners
    • Melody Melody on Aug 25, 2015
      Thanks that was my next step. It' so weird. Its only stuck on one side. Almost like the one side is glued.
  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Jan 11, 2024

    Use WD40 to loosen it, also candle wax. Also, if you can get it freed up somewhat, there may be something in the drawer that is sticking up, run a flat blade to clear that obstacle.

  • Drawers that stick in vintage furniture may be caused by the wood's tendency to gradually swell with dampness. You can quickly get your drawer sliding in and out again, though, if you use some furniture oil or wax.

  • Betsy Betsy on Feb 03, 2024

    Hi Melody: You can try sticking your hair dryer inside of the drawer, pointing at the sides to dry out the wood. Then, when you can slide the drawer out, rub chalk on it and put the drawer back into the desk and remove it. Where the chalk is rubbed off is where the wood is high. You can sand those areas down. Do this a few times to be sure you have all of the high areas level and then rub the drawer tops with wax or soap to assist with sliding in and out. Do this every month or so.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 04, 2024

    Use a Dehumidifier to draw the damp out!

  • Deb K Deb K on Feb 07, 2024

    Hi Melody, hope this helps. Try rubbing regular bar soap, wax paper, dry lubricant with Teflon. If these steps don't solve the problem, it's possible the wood has shifted in such a way that the drawer no longer fits properly in the dresser. In this case, check to see where friction is leaving wear marks on the drawer.