Dresser Drawers Stuck Closed

July 31, 2005

Close up image of an old fashioned dresser drawerI 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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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

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?


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
December 8, 20190 found this helpful

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

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 105 Posts
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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September 5, 20210 found this helpful

I use dry soap too and I use talc too. The advantage of talc is that you can make it fall on a part that you can not reach. Talc can also keep two floor slats from squeaking, just by pouring some between the two planks.

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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, 20171 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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October 10, 20210 found this helpful

I gave this issue. Did you find a solution ?

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5 Archives

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.


(It probably isn't damp, this being Phoenix, AZ.)

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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.

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