Most drawers are easy to remove. But, drawers with a center metal slide can be challenging to take out. The trick? That depends on what type of drawer you have.
In most cases, removing a drawer with a center metal slide means finding the drawer stopper and opening the lever. But, you might also just have to use force to rip the drawer out. The bad news is that you definitely want to search for stoppers before doing so.
Why Do Dresser Drawers with Metal Slide Get Stuck?
Dresser drawers with a metal slide normally get stuck for one of two reasons. The first is that it might have a plastic or wooden drawer stop or an anti-tip mechanism in place. The second reason is that the metal slide can become bowed which causes the drawer to stick.
Lever Drawer Stops
Lever drawer stops are extremely common on nearly all metal slide drawers. In fact, they’re the most common type of drawer. If you buy something from Ikea, chances are, it has a metal slide and a drawer stop. That remains true if you have a center metal slide.
So, what is a drawer stop? It’s a small attachment at the front or back (usually back of the drawer) that holds the drawer in place. It prevents the drawer from sliding out all the way so that, if your bearings slide too quickly on the tracks, your jewelry, socks, or silverware don’t go hurtling all over the floor. That’s great, all the way up until you want to take the drawer out. At this point, you’ll have to find and depress the drawer stop levers to remove the drawer.
Simple? Unfortunately, different manufacturers use different mechanisms. You’ll have to figure out what kind of lever it is, where it’s placed, and how to depress the lever to get your drawer out.
Soft Close Drawers
Soft close drawers always use clips to attach the drawer to the rails. You’ll normally find these clips at the back of the guides, with the drawer all the way out. In some cases, the clip may take the form of a lever or screw. For a center mounted slide, you’ll normally have to access this from underneath the drawer. That can be difficult if the other drawers are still in. However, you can normally pull all of them all the way out, so you have better access to the clip.
Many drawers with metal slides use stabilizer screws. These are likely on the front and back of the center metal slide. If you also have side rails, there will likely be screws there as well. These are normally very small to medium screws. However, they may be covered with plastic or metal caps – which can make finding them difficult.
In addition, stabilizer screws can be a standalone measure. Alternatively, you can have drawer stops and stabilizer screws in the same drawer.
Anti-tip cables connect drawers to the back of the cabinet, with the intent to keep it from tipping over if all of the drawers are out. These are uncommon on newer furniture. These cables are usually attached by clips or hooks to the very back of the drawer. In most cases, they are attached using screwdrivers.
Center metal slides are relatively uncommon because they put the full pressure of the drawer on a single point. That means the risk of damage is high. Your drawer might become stuck because the tracks become warped. Or, if the release lever is jammed. Or, if the ball bearings clog with dirt or hair. This can make pulling the drawer out difficult. Luckily, a bit of applied force should do the job. However, you do want to double check for a release mechanism before you release the drawer. Otherwise, you could be damaging your furniture.
5 Steps to Remove Dresser Drawer with Center Metal Slide
Chances are, if you have a drawer with a center metal slide, it uses drawer stops. You can normally find these underneath the drawer, when the drawer is pulled all the way out.
Empty Your Drawer
It’s always a good idea to fully empty your drawer before you attempt to remove it. That’s especially important for center metal slide drawers. Why? They’re designed to be supported from underneath. The frame might not be strong enough to hold everything inside unsupported. Plus, that drawer is likely heavy. The last thing you want to do is drop it when it’s full of stuff. Plus, an empty drawer makes it a lot easier to see when a manufacturer has put clips or release screws on the inside of the drawer.
Pull the Drawer Out
Pull the drawer all the way out, until it clicks. If there’s no click, run your hands along the back of the drawer to make sure there’s not an anti-tip cable in place. You can also go ahead and do a quick test of the mechanism. Lift the front of the drawer a few inches towards the ceiling and see if it slides out easily. Chances are, it won’t. But it might, so it’s worth checking.
Check for Levers, Clips, or Screws
Examine the metal slides for levers, clips, or screws. If you only have a center metal slide, chances are, these will be underneath the drawer. Check the very front and the very back of the metal slide. Sometimes these clips are inside metal depressions. In this case, you might need a screwdriver or even a specialty tool to depress them.
Newer drawers, especially models like Ikea, will normally use large and easy-to-spot levers and buttons. Make sure you check every track. For example, if you have a center metal slide and side glides, check all three. Then, push the levers.
If a small flat screwdriver doesn’t work for depressed clips, try using something small and metal. For example, a metal meat skewer.
In the case that you have three clips, it’s always better to push the two side clips at once, as you lift the drawer out. Why? They can re-click in place at the slightest adjustment of the drawer, which can make removing it by yourself a chore.
Remove the Drawer
Lift the front of the drawer a few inches and pull the drawer forward, lifting up as you go. The drawer should come out easily. If it doesn’t, recheck for screws, anti-tip cords, or other release levers.
In addition, it’s always best to start with the top drawer first. This makes it easier to work, easier to access the drawer underneath, and reduces the chances of creating a tipping hazard with your furniture.
Put the Drawer Back In
In most cases, you can simply slide your drawer into place, and it will re-lock. However, if you have screws or an anti-tip cable, you’ll also have to reinstall those.
Here, you want to slightly elevate the front of the drawer and then set the end into the grooves, so that the track on the drawer lines up with the center track in the cabinet. You can then push it back and into place, lowering the drawer as you go. Push it all the way back, until you hear a click. Then, pull the drawer out and re-attach any screws or cords as is necessary.
That’s it, your drawer is back in.
How to Remove Drawers with Metal Glides and No Levers
If your drawer has a metal glide or glides without levers, you have one of two options. The first is that it uses pins or screws for the mechanism.
Checking for Depressed Clips
Depressed clips are normally holes in the bulky mechanism part of the glide. This will normally be small and square or round or larger and rectangular. The idea is always that you insert a key, metal piece, or a screwdriver to push a small clip or button.
In most cases, these are on raised areas of the metal. Manufacturers don’t want to hide them. However, you will have to check because not all holes are clips. In fact, some holes are designed to allow machines to grip the glide during manufacture. So, you’ll have to actually look at holes to see what they do.
Look for Screws
While screws are usually easy to spot, they might not be. For example, screws can be covered with plastic or metal caps. They can also sit in depressions or holes, much like clips. It’s important to inspect the glide thoroughly, and possibly with the help of a flashlight. Most screws on glides are size 2 Phillips Type 2 or hex. However, that’s not a standard and you can definitely find other sizes as well.
Remove the Drawer
Once you remove the screws, you can easily lift the front of the drawer up and out. In this case, if there’s still something catching, check where it’s catching and look for more screws or clips there. In almost every case, center slide drawers have clips on the front or the back or both. It’s very unlikely that you’d have anything in the middle. That makes diagnosing where a clip is relatively easy.
Dresser Drawers Won’t Come Out: Try This…
If your dresser drawer is still stuck, there are a few quick troubleshooting checks you can do. The first is to make sure that your check for clips and screws was thorough enough. If you force a drawer and it’s actually clipped in, you could break the clip and ruin the entire glide or the drawer.
So, always double check for clips, screws, and levers.
Then, you’ll want to examine the actual mechanism of the glide. For example, one common occurrence is that the glide is screwed together. This happens on some cheaper furniture. Here, the screw is usually located in the middle and near the end of the glide attachment. You’ll have to unscrew it to remove the glide.
Another instance is that there’s actually a stabilizing screw in the drawer part of the glide. This is intended to catch on a hook on the cabinet side of the glide, to prevent the drawer from coming out. You’ll have to unscrew it to get the drawer out.
Finally, if all else fails, force the drawer out. Lift the front of the drawer and use a sharp jerking motion to pull it upwards and out. You can also try wriggling it left and right.
Worst case scenario, the glide removes from the cabinet. You can always go into the cabinet, behind the drawer, and unscrew the glide from the cabinet itself. That’s going to be difficult and will require some maneuvering – but will allow you to free even the most stubborn drawer.
2 Helpful Dresser Drawer Maintenance Tips
Maintaining your center metal slide drawers normally means taking a few steps to take care of those drawers. Luckily, in most cases, that’s relatively simple work.
Don’t Overload Your Drawers
If your drawers are heavily loaded, the wood will bow down around the metal track. That can cause the drawer to stick. It also causes a lot of wear and tear on the drawer itself. Making sure loads distribute evenly can help a great deal. And, it will ensure your drawer is in good shape to last as long as possible.
Clean out the Tracks Periodically
Bottom tracks are more difficult to maintain than side glides, mostly because they are more likely to have dirt, hair, or other debris fall into the tracks. That can be problematic if you have ball bearings, or it builds up a lot. If you check the glides and they have buildup in them, you should consider checking back once a year or so. That helps to ensure your drawers stay easy to open.
If you have a very damp house, you might also want to occasionally apply lubricant to the ball bearings or wheels. However, in most cases, this is not helpful. If you see rust, clean it off and apply lubricant.
If your drawer is still having issues, here are a few more tips. These questions should help as you go about fixing your drawers.
Can you put drawer slides on the bottom?
You can install drawer glides on the bottom if they are bottom glides. Center metal drawer slides are designed for this purpose. In most cases, they fit into a groove on the drawer, so there’s no gap between the drawer and the cabinet. Alternatively, you can fit drawer slides on the bottom side of the drawer. This won’t be a problem, so long as you make sure they are level on each side.
Can you use WD40 on wood drawers?
You should never use WD40 on wooden drawers. However, you can purchase a low cost wax to waterproof and lubricate your wooden drawers. WD40 will absorb into the wood and will cause swelling and possible cracking. It will also smell. Considering you probably want to smooth the drawers and ease them opening, you’re much better off with a wood product. You can also try sanding and smoothing the drawers and then waxing them.
Removing dresser drawers can be a challenge the first time, as you learn how to do it. Luckily, every other drawer should be easy because you know where the mechanism is. However, in some cases, drawers are just stuck. This can mean using force and potentially damaging the drawer. Make sure you fully examine the drawer and the mechanism to try to prevent this type of damage.