Painted Furniture Ideas
Jun 1, 2021

Mastering Smooth Sliding Drawers

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A common problem when you purchase an antique piece of furniture is that the drawers don’t slide smoothly. Sometimes the drawer is in such bad shape you practically have to rebuild the drawer to fix it.

Truly antique furniture has this issue because the pieces don’t have the kind of drawer guides that are used today.  Most of the time it’s wood on wood. However, some older drawers are metal on wood. This was the case for mine.

bathroom with many drawers

I tried 5 different products to test which one was best. Here are my results.

1: Wax Paper

Wax paper offers a mess-free alternative to applying wax on drawers—a method highly praised by numerous individuals. Although some swear by this technique, it doesn’t always guarantee a sufficiently smooth outcome. While the wax paper aids in easing drawer movements, it falls short of providing the desired level of smoothness. Additionally, securing the paper with tape becomes cumbersome, and over time, the paper can tear, potentially leading to paper jams within the drawers. Considering these drawbacks, I would advise against relying on wax paper as a viable long-term solution for achieving smooth sliding drawers.

2: Vinyl Tape

Vinyl tape, take the idea of placing a wax lined product on your drawer, like wax paper, but with a sticky side to keep it firmly in place. I bought a roll off Amazon, after reading raving reviews. This thin tape was easy to apply and very sticky. There was no mess and over time it will last. The vinyl tape works well for wood on wood drawers, but not wood on metal. So depending on your drawer this could be a great option.

old drawer with vinyl table on edge

3: Bar of Soap

This concept was conceived as a simple and quick hack, yet it proved ineffective.

I experimented by applying soap onto the wood slider, appreciating the smooth texture it produced. This initial success left me hopeful as I reinserted it into its designated slider. However, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment. Despite the effort, the drawers remained unsmooth, and I observed no discernible improvement whatsoever.

soap rubbed along edge of drawer

4: Baby Powder

baby powder

Baby powder is great for so many things! I didn’t really use it for its intended use with my kids, but found dozen of great uses throughout the years.

I lightly sprinkled some on my drawers, and slide them in…. use #73 for baby powder: making drawers slide easier. It really did help! Baby powder was second to the vinyl tape in efficiency!

5: Sand it

Obviously, this one will work for any wood-on-wood drawers, but you want to be careful not to sand too much in one place or generally overall. Be especially careful with inset drawers so that they still fit in their box.

Start with a high grit, such as 200 and use smooth long strokes. Work up to a 300 grit paper. Dust off the drawer thoroughly and slide it in.

This did help my metal to wood drawer, as it gave more space for the sliders.

6: Plumbers Grease

This is my #1 solution! It was a little messy to apply, but had the greatest effect on my drawer. This grease works well in high temperatures and humid or wet conditions, which is exactly what wood needs in a bathroom.

plumbers grease

This tube cost about $2, and worked just as well as many furniture grease products being sold for $15.

As a review, the best options for how to get smooth sliding drawers are:

  • #1: Plumbers Grease
  • #2: Baby Powder and Sanding tied
  • #3 Vinyl tape

Don’t waste your time on: wax paper or soap. Good luck with your stuck drawers. I hope these reviews helped!

bathroom drawers
Stiff drawers? Need smooth sliding drawers? Learn what works and what doesn't
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