dust from wooden kitchen drawers

lalalaJune 8, 2009

We have old wooden kitchen cabinets--I don't know if they are original to the 1936 house, but they're not from any recent decade. The drawers open on wooden runners, and the wood-on-wood friction create a lot of dust, and some paint chips from the painted edges of the drawers, that ends up in the pots and pans below them. There's so much dust that I basically re-wash every pot before I use it. Fortunately the lead paint test came up negative. We can't afford to renovate now, but I'd like to do something to help with the dust issue.

One idea I had was to somehow put a "ceiling" on the inside of the lower cabinet below the drawers, so any dust would not be able to fall down. I was thinking some kind of thin flexible plastic that I could nail or staple to the bottom of the drawer runners.

Do you think that would work? Does anyone have a better suggestion? Thanks.

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I'm assuming the paint chips are not from the runners being painted and will go from there.

Your runners have either swollen or warped over time. If they warped you will have to see how badly warped they are. Do the drawers slide in and out easily or do they seem to stick? Do they feel like they are tight all the way front to back or do they stick in one or more places. (slide easily then stick then slide & stick) Look at them and see if rubbing the runners with a bar of soap will help them to slide easily. If they are badly warped you may have to replace the runners. I can't see that this would be any more difficult than installing a dust cover under them. At least you can take the drawers out to do this and not have to crawl around under the cabinet. If you can "grease" the rails so to speak, and get the drawers to slide easily, then you won't be causing the friction that is causing the sandpaper effect under your cabinets. In any case rubbing with soap should help with the drawers sticking no matter what their condition.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 7:16PM
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Drill a hole in the bottom of each drawer track at the front. Drill a similar hole in each drawer side at the back. Insert one of these glide buttons in each hole (four per drawer).
That should cut the friction.
You may have to modify the thickness of the button a little or the drawer front will not align as before.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nylon button

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 9:25PM
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Thanks! That is a good point about the swollen/warped wood. The drawers are fairly hard to slide the whole way out. Let me clarify what each drawer look like. It is just a box that rests on two flat pieces of wood on the bottom. They don't run in grooves on the side, and there's no center runner. The drawer fits quite snugly in the slot. I think the "runners" might be structural to the cabinets, and I am not sure it would change anything to replace them. Maybe sanding to reduce the size of the drawer slightly, followed by "greasing," would help?

And no, the runners aren't painted, nor are the sides of the drawers. I think the paint is just coming from the top edges of the drawers where it rubs against the front opening as it opens and closes.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 10:56PM
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Those buttons look promising. I do think it would be a tight squeeze--maybe could sand down the drawer a bit as well as modifying the thickness of the button.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 10:01AM
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Before you go for a time consuming solution, you should give the bar of soap a try. It really works.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 2:23PM
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Or try a spray silicone, seals and glides all in one.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 3:33PM
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A candle stub works as well as the soap, if you don't use bar soaps. I have several old dressers that are constructed much like your cabinets and before rubbing with a candle they squeaked and screeched and stuck when opened and closed.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 3:38PM
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Do try the candle wax/soap. Rub it on both surfaces. You may need to redo from time to time. This has been
SOP for old wooden drawers for as long as I can remember. In fact, "soaping ones drawers" used to be the source of many giggles.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 5:28PM
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Candle wax is good; soap is less good- it's hygroscopic (attracts water to itself) so it could exacerbate swelling.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 6:33PM
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Thank you all! I will try candle wax tonight and see how it goes.

Here's another question about the cabinets. The shelves inside are very banged up, especially the edge where pots and pans bump into it. Paint chips and bits of wood come off on a daily basis. I want to work on fixing that, but I am concerned that re-painting, even if I do a good job of sanding and prepping, will not last very long and I'll just have the same problem within a few months. The wood is fairly soft (maybe pine). Can you think of something else I can cover those edges with? Something more durable than contact paper? It doesn't have to be beautiful since it's just inside the cabinets.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 4:16PM
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I repainted our cabinets inside and out. Then covered with 3 coats of Minwax Polycrilic, one coat every hour. Waited 2 days till the poly sets real hard and now I slide dishes and pans in all the time and the paint never mars. The poly can be renewed at any time and will not show marks between the coats.

My SIL is a siding contractor and when he walked in the door and looked at the cabinets he said "Wow, new cabinets?". That said it all for me.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 9:21AM
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Great suggestion, hendricus. Thanks very much!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 10:24PM
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