Ways to Fix a Squeaky Drawer

Why most drawers squeak and how to fix different types of squeaks.

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Dressers, cabinets, chests, and household appliances all have drawers that may develop a squeak from time to time. The squeak can be anything from a small almost imperceptible sound up to a major grating noise. The good news is that most squeaks are not big problems beyond the sound involved and can be resolved quite easily.

  • Determine the source of the squeak. Drawers can squeak from bushings in the small rollers that they glide upon. Other drawers do not use rollers but the wood of the drawers slides over the wood of the drawer frame. A squeak can develop when the wood becomes worn and dry. Occasionally, drawers squeak on the sides where they touch the frame as the are pulled out and pushed in. Joints of the drawer can become loosened over years of use and squeak as the drawer flexes when it is moved.

  • Remove the drawer from its slot to inspect it and fix the squeak. It is much easier to find the problem once the drawer has been removed. You should begin by turning the drawer upside down. If it has rollers, try spinning the rollers to see if you can hear the squeak. If there are no rollers, the bottom of the drawer sides will probably show wear, and this will be the squeak. If the squeak comes from the flat part of the drawer sides, you may be able to see where the drawer has been scraping the edges of the slot.

  • You can eliminate the squeaky roller with lubricant. The roller can be lubricated in either of two ways that work equally well. A spray or two of WD-40 will almost always do the trick. However, if you do not have any WD-40, a drop or two of light weight oil like 2 in 1 oil will get rid of the squeak. The oil may last slightly longer than the WD-40 but may also attract more dust to the roller.

  • Powder is one way to stop the squeak from the bottom of the drawer sides rubbing. Using a little talc or bath powder on the drawer and the frame will give enough lubrication to stop most squeaks. One application of powder will frequently do the job. However, it may take rubbing it on a couple of times to get enough powder in place to completely stop it. Applying a little wax will also work most of the time. Either of these fixes should be considered temporary, but they should give you months and possibly a year or more of quiet drawers.

  • You may need a little sand paper to fix sides that scrape as the drawer moves. Moisture can make the drawers swell a little. The wood will not always shrink when it dries. Sanding it a little is usually enough to fix the problem. You may want to add a some powder to this area, too.

  • Drawers with squeaky joints can require more work. The fix on this problem can range from adding some glue into a joint and clamping it until it dries to having to take the drawer apart and put it back together with glue and fasteners. Usually, you will be able to force glue into the joints and clamp the drawer. Make sure that you keep the drawer square as you do the repair. If you take the drawer apart, having an air hammer can help sink the nails back into the corner joints without damaging the wood. When using a hammer, tap the nails into the wood gently after applying glue to the joint. Once again, take care to maintain square corners on the drawer.
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  1. I would also like to recommend a product called Jig-A-Loo. It’s a newer product in the US and can be used on almost anything! It’s fabulous! It’s a dry silicone-based lubricant that, unlike any other lubricant, contains no oil, grease, wax, petroleum distillates or detergent, so it doesn’t stain or stink. It stops squeaks, un-sticks just about anything, protects against rust, and is an exceptional water repellent.

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