How to Remove Sliding Drawers

Remodeling, rebuilding, repairing or simply curious to know what lies behind it, whatever the reason you have for removing a drawer from its cabinet, it's a rather simple process. From free rolling to metal glides with a lever, there are many types of drawer mechanisms to fiddle with. If you understand the apparatus, you can easily and safely get the drawer out of its housing and back again without risk of breaking the drawer or hardware.

top view of empty open drawer
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How to Remove Sliding Drawers

Pro Tips

Start from the top and number the drawers as you remove them. This way you can quickly return them to their specific spot and save time attempting to remember where each one goes. If you remove them from the bottom first, a free-standing cabinet or dresser can become top heavy and is in danger of tipping over on you as you work. Have a screwdriver, gloves and pencil at the ready so you won't have to stop this fairly fast project midstream.

Elimination Information

For a basic drawer with side rails or a bottom rail, extend the drawer until the guides are protracted all the way. Angle the drawer toward the floor so that the back end pops up a bit. At this point, you can wiggle or wag the drawer if the back sticks to the track. Your goal is to get the wheels above the stopping mechanism.

If the drawer continues to be stubborn, check for levers on the sides. There should be one lever, either straight or slightly bent, in the middle of each metal track. Press the levers while pulling the drawer out. Push the levers into the track for easier handling when the drawer is free of its housing.

If you have stabilizer screws on tracks, such as those on heavy metal cabinets for industrial or office spaces, you'll definitely need to start by removing the drawers at the top of the cabinet first then working your way down to the bottom so the piece doesn't topple over during the removal process. With the drawer fully extended, find the two stabilizer screws and remove them with a screwdriver or drill. The catch-and-release tabs on either side of the drawer should be pulled upward by pinching them simultaneously. These drawers are heavy, so be careful to not let them fall once you've released them. After you perform these steps, you will be able to use your cabinet without the sliding drawers.


Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.