How to Open a Stuck Dresser Drawer

Front of drawers

Stuck dresser drawers can make a piece of furniture practically useless.

If you have tried to pull out a dresser drawer only to find that it’s completely stuck, there are a few possible reasons why.

Understanding why your wood drawer is stuck in the first place is the first step to breaking it free. Once you know, then you can take the appropriate measures to unstick the dresser drawer and get it running smoothly again.

In this post, you will learn how to open a stuck dresser drawer depending on the reason why it’s stuck in the first place.

When humidity is the problem

Typically wood drawers have a difficult time gliding because the wood has changed its shape slightly. This can often happen when the seasons change. In the summer, when there is more humidity in the air, wood can absorb the moisture and expand. The swelled wood can make it difficult for moving pieces to function, especially for weathered, old dresser drawers.

The drawer might be difficult to move when it’s swollen and if so, then you can use the back end of a hammer or even a crowbar to pry open the drawer.

Using back of hammer to open drawer

In doing so, be extremely careful that you don’t break the face of the drawer off as you pull it out. Apply a small amount of pressure first to see if the drawer budges, and if it pulls out slightly then continue to apply pressure to pull the drawer completely open.

Once you have unstuck the dresser drawer, chances are that the drawer might not slide completely smoothly. You may need to sand down the drawer track a bit to make sure the drawer glides with less friction. Additionally, consider lubricating the wood drawer track with candle wax or a bar of soap.

When an object is blocking the drawer

One of the common reasons why dresser drawers get stuck is that there is an object blocking the drawer from opening up completely. If you tend to fill your drawers to the top with stuff, there is a good chance that you have this problem.

To fix this issue, open the drawer as far as it can go. It may only be able to open a centimeter or two but this can be enough. Feed a ruler, mixing spoon, spatula, or a similar utensil into the opening and run it back and forth. The goal here is to knock down whatever object is blocking the drawer and preventing it from opening up completely.

Using paint stick to fix stuck drawer

Once the object is dislodged, pull the drawer open and retrieve the object.

Glue or paint sealing it shut

Another reason why a drawer could be completely stuck is that there may be a bit of glue, paint, wax, or other material that could be sealing the drawer shut.

To open stuck wooden drawers that are sealed closed, take a butter knife and run it along the perimeter of the drawer face. The idea is to break any adhesive that may be sticking the back of the drawer face to the frame of the dresser.

Using butter knife to open stuck dresser drawer

Run the knife between the back of the drawer face and the frame and go over any areas where you find resistance a few times.

After you have run the knife around the frame a few times tug at the drawer and it should glide smoothly from there.

Final words

Ultimately, a stuck dresser drawer can be extremely irritating. However, keep in mind that even when you unstick it, your problems might not be over yet. If the drawer continues to have a difficult time sliding, and if sanding and lubricating don’t do the trick, you may need to replace the drawer runners.

Depending on the dresser you can install metal drawer runners.

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