Several of the built-in drawers in our old house have wood slides.
They tend to stick making opening the drawers jerky and difficult,
particularly if the drawers have heavy contents in them.
I would like to fix the drawer slides ideally without replacing the
What is the best way to improve the performance?
I plan to start by cleaning & sanding the slides and fixing any
I assume that some type of polish would also reduce the friction. If so
what would you recommend? Johnson's Paste Wax? Something else?
Any other standard things to do to fix up wooden slides?
I'm assuming there is no benefit to replacing the wood itself, assuming
that the slides are intact and that I can sand them down.
One thing that can be done if there's some extra play is to use a piece
of the stick-on UHMW film.
Of course, if there's binding somewhere, that must be fixed.
As for the last option, if they're a softer wood such as pine or poplar
it's always possible replacing w/ maple or other harder wood could help
if they're worn.
Examine for wear; the drawers won't slide straight if the slides
are worn into dips. Remember that an extended drawer puts extra
pressure on the underside at the lip, and the TOP of the drawer just
behind the face frame, you need those two spots to stay
flat, smooth, slippery.
A thumbtack as "wear button" is an easy fix for small drawers, and
paste wax works if there's still large flat wood/wood contact
For heavy drawers of traditional construction, you'll likely want to
consider cementing a fresh veneer strip to heavily-worn runners.
Bandsawing the veneer strip from a board, you can figure its width
to match the dips. Plan on using a rabbet plane to do some final
flattening after the strip is in place. Cemented, NO NAILS unless you
have some way to pull them out afterward.
Sanding things down is generally not productive; you want to create
straight-line fit, small surface-finish abrasion doesn't accomplish
That's going to increase the gaps between the sliding surfaces. This
might make things worse because the surfaces can cock sideways and
jam. Surfaces parallel and in alignment will work better. If you
sand much off, you probably need to build the surfaces back up with
veneer or a gliding surface of some sort.
Paraffin (Gulf sealing wax) is hardest, and that's what I would use.
Next softest is candle wax, then (softest) bee's wax.
I would see if there's any way to add a veneer of lignum vitae or some
sort of rosewood to the sliding surfaces. Lignum vitae was used for
many years for tackle blocks and deadheads on ships. Both it and many
rosewoods are "greasy" or "oily" woods and will self-lubricate to some
extent. Plus they're harder than most any other woods so they will
not wear down quickly.
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