Under 2 hours
People can be rough on drawers, and a drawer that won't close right is annoying. The fix is simple and easy when you know a few basic tips and have the right tools. With a few turns of a screwdriver and some glue, you can have a smooth-sliding drawer again. This guide will explain how to fix a broken drawer in your home.
Assess the Problem
As a general rule, drawers seem to break down in three (3) basic ways:
- The front panel and/or hardware get loose or damaged.
- Gaps occur on a drawer's inside bottom panel.
- The drawer's sliders wear out.
Before starting a drawer repair, empty the drawer and remove it for a thorough inspection. It could be that the simplest fix is to tighten any loose screws on the front, the decorative hardware or inside the drawer itself. Do that first and see what happens when the drawer is re-inserted.
Remove the drawer completely from the frame by pulling it forward and then tipping the front portion of the drawer downward about 30-degrees to push the wheel parts off of the drawer sliders.
Fix a Broken Drawer Front
If a drawer's front panel is about to fall off, remove that solid piece of the drawer by taking out the screws with a screwdriver or a drill. Set the screws aside in a small bowl so they won't get lost. Discard any broken pieces of drawer.
- The drawer front will need new and firmer anchoring spaces for when you put the screws back to the box of the drawer.
- Drill new holes into the drawer's box frame (not the front piece) just to the side of where old, worn holes were using a 3/16-inch drill bit attached to the drill.
- Brush away any wood debris caused by the drilling with a brush or rag. Then screw the drawer front back onto its drawer box through the new holes with the same screws you took originally removed.
- If old staples are askew and sticking out, remove them with a pair of plyers and replace them with a staple gun and the approporate size staples as the drawer is reassembled. Save one of the old staples to know which size staples to purchase if new ones are needed.
- Wear work gloves when removing staples to prevent punctures on fingers or hands.
How to Fix Drawer Inner Panels
When you pull out a broken drawer to inspect it, you may notice bulging and gaps on the inner bottom panel. A bulging panel could be preventing it from sliding easily into a frame.
- The quickest fix here is to press the panel back into the grooves or slots they are supposed to fit into or to staple in a new panel.
- If the panel fits back into grooves the right way, secure it firmly into place with wood glue before replacing the drawer.
- Make a neat, continuous thread of wood glue all around the drawer panel at the groove or slot. Let the glue dry fully, using clamps as it dries if needed, before returning the drawer to the frame.
- If the bottom panel is too warped to fit back into place without popping out, try flattening it with the sun + wet grass method: Place the panel on wet grass with the curved part on the grass and the other side exposed to full sunlight. As the sun dries the top side, the board unwarps itself.
- If the drawer's bottom piece is permanently damaged or too warped for the sun-dry method, you will need to purchase and/or cut new pieces of plywood in the exact same size as the damaged one.
- Then staple on a new panel or glue in the bottom panel piece into their slots once they are fitted back in.
Fix the Broken Sliders on a Door
Take a broken drawer out and inspect the gliders or sliders. Sliders can wear out from use and become loose and wobbly.
- If the sliders are not too damaged but are only wobbling and slipping from their screws, tighten all the screws.
- If the screw's hole of the slider itself is worn out and too damaged to keep the screw in place, inspect the slider. Most plastic or metal sliders have an extra hole to place a screw through.
- Mark a new place to drill the screw through at the new hole choice on the slider, remove the screw next door and screw it back through the new slider hole.
- Using the new hole on an existing slider should keep the slider portion of a drawer firmly in place again.
- If the slider is completely worn out or there are no new holes to use on it, replace it with a new slider.
- Know that antiques or custom-made cabinetry and dressers may require special parts and materials. Contact the manufacturer for further assistance.
Tools Needed to Fix a Broken Drawer
Inspect all the drawer's parts before deciding what tools will be needed for the repair. A simple fix with a screwdriver won't need more than that one tool. If a more complex repair is required, this list should cover most bases.
- Drill and/or screwdriver
- 3/16-inch drill bit
- Staple gun
- Wood glue
- New sliders (if needed)
- Cleaning rag or paper towels
- Soft brush for brushing off wood debris from a drill
- Safety glasses if cutting any boards with a saw
Now that you've fixed a broken drawer, enjoy the ease of opening and closing them again.