First page of the Dresser archive.

Dresser Drawer wonky – repair

Posted by is9582 on October 27, 2016 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We have an old dresser that is almost 30 years old, that was purchased just before our son was born. It has some nice looking maple/curly maple on it and is fairly heavy, which lead us to believe it was well made. Unfortunately, this was around the time I was just cutting my teeth on some basic woodworking, so I didn’t dig into it as I would today.

I became aware that the top drawer was twisting in it’s track and it was a struggle to get the drawer in or out. As I was going through all of the excess stuff in the room, I pulled the drawer to see what exactly was happening. The drawers, which are each approximately 30″ wide, have one “T” shaped runner in the dead center of each level. The front end of the runners are screwed to the face frame, and initially it looked like the rear swung into what looked like a dado, with perhaps a dab of glue securing it. After completely removing the top runner, I saw there was a hole in the rear of the case, in the “dado section”, as well as signs a screw was driven into the rear end of the runner. The actions of the drawer must have created enough vibration to cause the rear screw to back out of the runner. Sure enough, I pulled the dresser away from the wall and there was one screw lying on the ground and it fit perfectly into the hole in the runner.

 

The runner for the top drawer in the dresser, with the screw intact at the red arrow, and the missing screw's location in the area of the blue arrows.

The runner for the top drawer in the dresser, with the screw intact at the red arrow, and the missing screw’s location in the area of the blue arrows.

 

The second part of the dresser issues is the fact that they installed a plastic guide on the rear of each drawer, to fit over the runner’s “T” shape. I know not all plastic is bad, but in this type of usage, it just doesn’t seem like it matches the drawer sizing, nor the level of the dresser’s original cost. The plastic guide on the problematic top drawer, had split at some point and one side section was gone.

 

Original undamaged plastic drawer guide, from another drawer in the dresser.

Original undamaged plastic drawer guide, from another drawer in the dresser.

 

Broken plastic guide from top drawer in this dresser.

Broken plastic guide from top drawer in this dresser.

 

I can’t tell if the screw popped out of the back first, and the ability of the rear section of the runner to swing from side to side applied extra side force to break the guide, or if the guide went first. I suppose at this point it really doesn’t make much difference.

With the runner from the top drawer already out, I took it to the shop as a template for a replacement guide. I found some cherry that looked like it would potentially work nicely.

I started with a piece of cherry that was about 6″ long, marked out the guide’s overall length, and marked a centerline to align with the center of the runner. I clamped the cherry in the face vise on my bench, and set my small square so the bottom of the runner was just slightly proud of the guide. I needed the bottom of the guide to just clear the face frame when installing the drawer. So with the rear of the runner sitting on the cherry, and the top of the runner against the square, I traced around the shape of the runner.

 

Cherry guide material clamped in the face vise, elevated slightly so my square could register against it to maintain the runner's orientation while drawing around it.

Cherry guide material clamped in the face vise, elevated slightly so my square could register against it to maintain the runner’s orientation while drawing around it.

 

Actual runner in place against the square, with the slight overhang. During the actual drawing around the runner, I squeezed between the base of the runner and the outside edge of the square's body.

Actual runner in place against the square, with the slight overhang. During the actual drawing around the runner, I squeezed between the base of the runner and the outside edge of the square’s body.

 

With the necessary opening of the guide defined, I used my Lie-Nielsen Crosscut saw to saw straight down at the two narrow vertical lines, until I reached the top of the intended opening. Shifting to my Knew Concepts saw, I cut along the horizontal lines, leaving only the the narrow vertical sections uncut. I used my small 1/4″ palm chisel from Czeck Edge Tools to methodically remove the remaining wood.

 

After creating the area to evacuate on the guide, I clamped the cherry in a small turn-screw, while clamping the turn-screw in the face vise. This elevated the piece to a nice height for sawing.

After creating the area to evacuate on the guide, I clamped the cherry in a small turn-screw, while clamping the turn-screw in the face vise. This elevated the piece to a nice height for sawing.

 

Here is the guide straight from the saw, but still it's full length, but the location for shortening is drawn.

Here is the guide straight from the saw, but still it’s full length, but the location for shortening is drawn.

 

I tested the fit and it was too tight widthwise, for the runner to completely enter the created opening in the guide. I used a small file to carefully remove wood, testing every so often, until the desired fit was established. All of the sharp edges were gently rounded to provide the best opportunity for the guide and runner to interact well together. Lastly I applied my Lie-Nielsen stick of paraffin to the mating surfaces of the guide and runner, and rubbed them in to help obtain the best performance.

 

Testing the actual runner in the guide, before cutting the guide to final length.

Testing the actual runner in the guide, before cutting the guide to final length.

 

The final guide after all filing and sanding was complete.

The final guide after all filing and sanding was complete.

 

I’ll include the installation information in one of my next blog entries. Thank you for stopping by and checking out the article. Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.

Lee Laird

@LeeLairdWoodworking – Instagram

@LeeLairdWW – Twitter