Drawers not fitting

patty_cakesAugust 14, 2014

Not really a decorating question, but I know there's plenty of knowledge on this board, so hoping someone has encountered this problem.

I bought a vintage dresser last winter and put it in the garage, to work on at a 'later date'. I also took the drawers out since they needed some work, and left them sitting on the garage floor. I'm in Tx, and needless to say the garage has heated up nicely. I decided to get to work on this project this past weekend, which was an accomplishment in itself. When I tried to put the drawers back in, they wouldn't fit. I had painted the piece, so with a bit if sandpaper, removed the very small amount of paint that I thought might have caused the problem. When that failed to help, I used sandpaper along the edges, corners, topside/ underside, and ever took a 'planer' to it. Being more logical than scientific, I knew that heat expands, cold contracts, so decided that's what happened when I took the drawers out. I've brought the drawers inside, and am hoping they'll contract enough to get them back in. Now I'm wondering, do I need to bring in the desk also, or will the 'contracted' drawers fit back in after a couple of days?

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What you may find is that, due to your sanding and planing, when the wood contracts again, the drawers will now be too small and will move all over the place and not be aligned with the dresser. I think the bigger issue is whether humidity, i.e.: dampness, got to them and the wood was warped.

If you have a room with AC, where there is no humidity, I'd put them in that room for a week or so and see what happens.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:53AM
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If the drawers have dovetailed joints, make sure they haven't slipped a bit out of alignment. Also, if the drawer bottoms fit into slots, make sure those haven't slipped out also. That happens frequently in vintage pieces. I would put drawers and dresser both inside. And yes, don't plane off too much. Also, make sure you're getting the right drawer back into the proper place. Even though some look exactly the same size, I've found in older pieces, because of wear and tear, the drawers don't interchange very well. Sometimes I have to run my fingers over the dovetailed joints to see if they're a bit out of square. And yes, our Texas summers, and humidity, or lack thereof, can create havoc on furniture.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 9:08AM
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patty_cakes I did the same thing this spring with an end table I painted. I left it out in the carport for about a month, before the weather got nice enough, to sand and paint. I actually had to force the drawer out of it. Once it was all painted, I had to force the drawer back in. It has been in the house all summer, and the drawer now works easily, like it always did, so I think once you have completed your project and brought it in, and wait a month or two, it will work just fine. Good Luck

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 9:36AM
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I was going to say the same as marg411...are you sure you are putting the same drawer back in the same spot? Been there, done that and so Ifinally learned to number the drawers and holes as I take the drawers out. Saves me a lot of hassle later.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:45PM
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Tib, yep, am getting the drawers in the right slots. This is actually a vintage dresser on legs, and there are only 5 small drawers~one center, 2 smaller and 2 larger, so it's not hard to differentiate. As for the planing, didn't do too much. The plane itself is vintage and not too sharp~guess that's a good thing. lol

Marg, I also checked the dovetailing, and it looks to be intact on all the drawers. I did sand it slightly, but don't see that as the problem. The drawers go in, it's that last inch or so that I can't push in and close completely.

Cat, I can only hope the problem goes away so easily. Will just hsve to wait and see,

Grandmaof3, only 3? Guess I'm not alone! I didn't think it necessary to mark the drawers since there were only 5, and only 2 different sizes. I did that with a gazillion cabinet doors once!

Thanks for all the tips. DD is helping me bring it in the house tonight, and will put the drawers back in, but should I push them in all the way and pray???

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 4:17PM
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I tipped my table over, and put a block of wood against it and hammered it in. Of course, getting it out at that time, would have required a block of wood and a hammer too, but it works great now. Its been in the house since around the 1st of May, I think. In your case, I might be tempted to put the drawers in, and just put them in as far as they go easily, and then check them every now and then. At least that way, you can use them, while you are waiting for them to work easily. With mine, it didnt matter, since it the only thing that goes in it, are remote controls.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 5:36PM
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Lol cat! Unfortunately this is a piece I'm hoping to sell. I rent a space in an antique mall, and along with all the smalls I sell furniture, which I paint blue, only blue~I term it 'French Inspired'. Anyway, I need to get the drawers in, I'm trying soap,tomorrow!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:38AM
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Well, good luck. Sounds like you dont have the time to wait it out. Can you put it in a small enclosed room, and run a heater on it? That should dry out the moisture a bit.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 7:09AM
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