Dresser Drawers Stuck Closed

Category Repair
When a chest of drawers do not open, there are a few things you can try to get the drawers to move freely. This page is about dresser drawers stuck closed.


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July 31, 2005

I have a pretty dressing table that is fairly old. Several of the drawers are stuck shut. They have not been painted shut but are stuck because they got damp/wet. I know I need to apply wax to them or sand them once I get them open. But how do I get them open? The dressing table has a back to it and there is wood between each of the drawers so I can't pull one out and see into the bottom drawer. Any suggestions?



By guam9999 (Guest Post)
July 31, 20052 found this helpful
Best Answer

I worked at a furniture store once and we would put a light under the piece of furniture to get rid of the moisture from the wood. The next day, it would have all the drawers free and easy to open. Of course, you must have the piece inside in an air conditioned room.



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December 8, 2019

Two of the drawers of my father's roll top bureau are stuck. The drawers have hooks at the back. I have taken the bottom 2 drawers out and can see a piece of wood with a horizontal bit sticking out to the side. I have reached in with my arm and released the drawers, but they got stuck again. Any ideas about how to keep them from locking?


December 8, 20190 found this helpful

You can coat the bottom of the edges of the drawers with soap.

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December 9, 20190 found this helpful

If this seems to be an issue and the bit is sticking and locking each time the drawer is put it, then cut it off or sand it down. It sounds like this is some sort of safety latch on the back of the drawer to hold it in place and you may not need it anymore.

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December 9, 20190 found this helpful

There are a bunch of good videos on working with roll top desks and doing minor repairs on YouTube. Here is one:



If you know the brand of your desk, you may find something specific to your piece.

I suggest watching a few of these and hopefully that will help you figure out what you have going on.

I know from my own roll piece (mine has a draw door roll--not the roll top but it has the same issues as a roll top sometimes), that there are stops and things that can get turned that need turned back.

Also, if you have keys on the drawers, they can get jammed up if the key does not fully release the lock.

I would not put anything on the drawers until you are sure of the problem. Soaps and waxes can damage the wood very easily.

Since you can get other drawers out, that should make any minor tweaks easier to make.

Post back how it goes!

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November 5, 2009

I have a dresser that was my grandmother's; it is over 80 years old and made of real wood. It had a large heavy TV sitting on top of it for years. Now I can't open any of the drawers. So what can I do without damaging the dresser? Thank you for any help.


By Robbie from Douglasville, GA


November 21, 20100 found this helpful

It may sound like a hassle, but the first thing to do is empty out each drawer. Then turn it upside down and run an old/new candle across the bottom 'rungs' of the drawer. You may have to do this a couple of times but try inserting the drawer and pulling it in and out in order to build up the wax on both the bottom of the dresser and where it comes in contact with the drawer. It should work after only one or two applications of the wax on the drawer bottom(s). I've had to do this with some older dressers and it works like a charm. Good luck. If it has a center support (as mine do), also run the wax through that so it glides easier too.

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October 14, 20170 found this helpful

That is what you do once the drawers are opened but how do you get the stuck drawers open to start with? Its like they are so swollen from the humidity that they are glued to sides.


There is no give at all. It wont budge at all - completely jammed with no access to force it open.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

September 24, 2008

Three drawers in my dresser are stuck; the bottom two open fine. This is not a very sturdy dresser, and it may topple if more than one drawer is open at a time; as a precaution it was made so only one drawer can be opened at a time. Any ideas on why the top three drawers are stuck? (It probably isn't damp, this being Phoenix, AZ.)

Gloria from Phoenix, AZ


Dresser Drawers Stuck Closed

Try taking an old candle and rubbing along the sides of the drawer. It helps it to slide more easily. (12/05/2006)


By Martha Fickling

Dresser Drawers Stuck Closed

Try removing the drawers that you can and feel above them to see if you can feel anything jammed in the runners. Clothes can get into the little spaces between the drawers and make it hard for them to open.

They also could be off their track which would make them hard to remove. Just keep removing the drawers as you can. When all of the drawers are out, put candle wax or soap on the runners to help keep this from happening again.

I'm not sure what you mean by only one drawer is able to be open at a time, but there may be a mechanism that makes that happen.

Susan from ThriftyFun (12/05/2006)

By ThriftyFun

Dresser Drawers Stuck Closed

Hi Gloria, I had a dresser once that was not very sturdy being made out of some particle board material. I had problems opening drawers because the dresser wasn't level. Get a level and put it on the top of your dresser and if it isn't level stick something under it and level it up. I used folded paper, but even some of those sticky felt circles that you can get from the hardware might be enough to help. (12/05/2006)

By Paula

Dresser Drawers Stuck Closed

If it's an older piece of furniture, try the candle method - of waxing the treads. Unfortunately some newer furniture is made very cheaply - we had some particle board dressers with uneven threads for the drawers - which we couldn't manage to fix & finally just tossed! Check the treads for the runners - sometimes they are just plastic - which breaks - if you know someone handy maybe they can make new treads for you - (12/05/2006)

By pam munro

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November 5, 2009

I am looking for tips on how to unstick dresser drawers. I have four drawers stuck in my little wooden dresser. How do I open them without damaging anything? What can I use to keep this from from happening again? They probably got damp and are tightly closed now.

Mary from Independence, KS


Dresser Drawers Stuck Closed

You can also use paraffin wax, which also works great for stuck clothing zippers. (09/25/2008)

By Doris Hill

Dresser Drawers Stuck Closed

I know I've had some drawers stick because of a dampness in the house, and then some stuck because the runner for the bottom of the drawer was chipped off a little. I have been able to fix the chipped off part, it is usually in the bottom of the drawer area. Glue it back on. Then you can take an old candle, or paraffin wax, and rub the runners really good on the bottom of the drawer. This really helps.

The wax also helps with dampness sticking. And a little tip, if one drawer is sticking, go ahead and wax all the runners to all of your drawers in that room, and prevent future problems. I've done that and avoided future problems. Plus I think the wax may help with getting dampness in the wood. Good luck. (09/27/2008)

By Glinda

Dresser Drawers Stuck Closed

If the drawers are made of particle board or chipboard and that is one of the friction surfaces, expansion and sticky drawers are almost inevitable. It happened to me and my first inclination was to dump the thing. However, I spent a lot of time fitting plastic strips on the drawer friction edges, top and bottom. I had to sand off a fair bit of particle board to make room for the plastic, and now they work fine. Was it worth it? Only just. (12/28/2008)

By Graham

Dresser Drawers Stuck Closed

A bar of soap works just as well as wax, doesn't stain the clothes in the drawer below the runner, and keeps the bugs away. (01/15/2009)

By Dena Roberts

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