Fixing a Binding Drawer

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  • #567675

    I built a hanging wall shelf similar to Paul’s, but with a drawer on the bottom for my wife’s stored knick knacks. The drawer’s outer dimensions are less than 1/8 smaller than the inner walls of the drawer housing, and as long as I slide it straight, no problems. But if I push it from a side (rack it?), it binds. The drawer is only 5 1/2″ deep (front to back), which I think exacerbates the racking. It’s in pine, so I’m thinking the softness of the wood might also be a contributor. I tried rounding the back and bottom edges and corners of the drawer. What else can I do to try to alleviate this?

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  • #570974
    Larry Geib


    A wide and shallow drawer will always present a challenge. Chances are such an arrangement will always be a bit fiddly. Consider two narrower drawers instead.

    A single center pull sometimes works better than two pulls and if your drawer works well when you grab it in the middle, that’s your answer.
    The single pull will encourage the user to use the right place.

    You can help things along using canning paraffin ( Gulf wax in the US) or candle wax on the rubbing surfaces. Melt the paraffin in a double boiler arrangement take it off the heat, and add a bit of turps. Apply hot. After it cools, Work the drawer a bit to rub off the excess. the mixture also works well for vise screws and rods.
    It is far more durable than paste wax. An application will last years.

    Gulf wax used to be called canning wax, but health considerations discourage that use, so now it’s often called household wax.
    It melts at 99°F (37°C) the goal is to warm it, not boil water. The wax and the turps are flammable. Use care and don’t use the turps over a flame.

    It may sound counterintuitive, but rounding the back corners may have made things a little worse by allowing more chance to rack or cam in the space.

    An 1/8” is actually a fairly large gap for the drawer side with shallow drawers. You can try adding a little veneer shim along the lower sides of the drawer space to close up the side gap and keep the drawer centered. An oak or walnut veneer strip works well. You can use a little hot glue and if it doesn’t help, it’s removable. Sometimes you can find small rolls of it used to finish plywood edges. You can also use that trick to restore worn out drawer guides.

    • This reply was modified 1 day, 22 hours ago by Larry Geib.


    Larry, how would you apply it to the screw? Would you try to keep it molten and brush it on the screw, still assembled in the vise, with a chip brush? Does prior paste wax or oil on the screw need to be cleaned off first, or just apply the wax right on top?

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