Removing dresser drawers seems like a simple task, right? But, you’re probably here because you can’t seem to make that drawer budge. While most side mount or roller drawers are easy to remove a center mount isn’t always easy. So how do you remove a dresser drawer with a center metal slide?
The trick to removing a struck drawer could be either force or a search for a drawer stopper you didn’t realize was there.
Why would a drawer have a stopper? Well, consider you don’t want the drawer to just open all the way and fall on the floor. Which should make it more obvious there’s a stopping mechanism behind it. Right?
So, before ripping your drawer apart you’ll learn:
- Where to look for a plastic (or metal) drawer stopper
- Understanding friction center metal slides that just need an extra tug
- Some drawer upgrades and even slide replacements if you want to enhance your drawers
How to Remove Dresser Drawer with Center Metal Slides
Step 1 - Inspect drawer slide for release mechanism
First, center mount metal slides rarely have a locking mechanism like what you would find on a side mount ball bearing slide.
But it’s worth checking to make sure there isn’t one.
While you are under the drawer make sure it’s a center mount slide:
- If there are two metal slides on either side of the drawer you have under mount drawer slides that have two easy push to release levers
- But if you have bottom mount epoxy slides then the drawer is removed by simply lifting up on the drawer when it is fully extended
- And for side mount ball bearing drawer slides there are two release levers visible when the drawer is fully extended. Simply push one up and one down (as they are reversed during installation) and pull.
Step 2 - Look for a drawer pull-out guard
As a protective measure some drawers have a piece of plastic that prevents the drawer from coming all the way out.
Look for one of two things:
- A semi-circular piece of plastic that acts as an inverted speed bump
- A plastic flap that hits the bottom back of the drawer when fully extended. But since this style of flap is only visible from inside the cabinet, you might hear it more than see it.
The solution if you have one of these stoppers? Being careful to NOT PINCH YOUR FINGERS, apply a steadily increasing opening force on the drawer and it should pull free of the plastic.
Step 3 - Time for some pressure
Nobody wants to break a drawer and the force to pull out a decades old dresser drawer can seem unreasonable. And if the track uses a plastic guide on the metal track there’s a good chance that guide is broken.
Try these steps with caution:
- Disclaimer: Be careful to not slam, pinch or otherwise hurt yourself or the drawer. Drawers without dovetail joinery can be broken if excessive force is applied.
- Apply gently increasing opening force to the drawer to see if it can un-stuck.
- Jiggle the drawer while applying force to move past any broken track pieces.
- Use a helper to apply opening force to the drawer sides (not front) – especially for non-dovetailed drawers.
Step 4 - Try another drawer
If at first you don’t succeed….try another drawer.
Perhaps the drawer you are attempting to remove is the special “broken” drawer. So try mixing it up and remove another drawer to learn what the trick might be.
Step 5 - Inspect the slide
Now it’s time to see if something is really broken and creating a hard block.
Since you likely can’t see the slide, take a putty knife and with the drawer slide fully open run it along each side of the track. Test this on a drawer you can remove, and then on the drawer you can’t remove. Inspect for any obvious breaks in the glide or plastic.
Options at this point vary, but attempting to remove the drawer slide, if you can access the back, is one solution.
At your discretion the last resort might be excessive force that requires repair of the drawer later.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Remove Dresser Drawer with Center Metal Slides
Dresser Safety and Preventing Injury or Deaths
We mentioned at the start of this article the deaths and injuries caused by tipping dresses.
Even Ikea was in the news for this issue.
I’ll admit I didn’t know this was a “thing” when I first starting parenting. But with the news and attention this issue has gotten there’s no reason to risk adding to the statistic that every 30 minutes a child goes to the ER for a furniture related tipping injury:
Making the Slides Work Better
Now that you have the drawer out you can take a look at a few solutions to improve the function of the drawer.
A few common fixes for a smoother slide include:
- Reduce friction by rubbing wax from a candle on the glide and drawer bottom
- Replace rollers or the drawer slide itself
- Upgrade to soft close drawer slides