Making Sense Of Stuck Drawers

Making Sense Of Stuck Drawers

Johnny Williams
Jul 12, 2010

Summer is a bummer for us furniture makers — as soon as the weather gets sticky, our drawers get stuck. But what causes wood to expand this time of year and how can you keep your drawers sliding smoothly?

Wood is forever in flux, expanding and contracting with seasonal changes in humidity. Due to its porous composition, wood absorbs moisture out of thin — or should I say thick — air. Many states experience drastic fluctuations in humidity moving from dry winters to damp summers. Here in the Connecticut, we're fast approaching maximum mugginess. Furniture constructed from solid wood — remember, veneered MDF and plywood are dimensionally stable — may swell as much as 1/8'' per foot of width. So that explains why your drawers are stuck, but how might you un-stick them?

If money isn't a problem, your best solution is to dehumidify the room. For around $150, a dehumidifier will loosen your drawers faster than the Jillian Michaels diet. But times are tight — pun fully intended — and there is an affordable way to get those drawers moving. Aim a heat lamp at the affected furniture to slowly rid the wood of its moisture. Once you've coaxed the drawer out, apply paraffin or paste wax to the runners and sides. Or just move to Phoenix and leave those sticky drawers behind!

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