Waxing Wooden Drawer Runners

Apply wax directly to bare wood for long-lasting slippery action. December 9, 2008

I'm building a maple drafting table for a client. The table features two drawers along its length, one about 5" wide, the other about 30", and both about 21" deep. Both made of maple. The design calls for wooden runners on the drawers (they wanted minimal hardware on the piece). Not a problem with me - I've already built them and fit them and they slide pretty well unfinished (even the wide one - no bind ups!). I do plan on using wax on the runners. Do you just use wax on the bare wood, or finish with an oil or varnish, then polish with wax?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
Definitely wax on the bare wood. Varnishes and such are sticky. The surface wax won't last long anyway, but the wax embedded in the wood fibers will give years of smooth running. Same on the drawer bottoms... bare wood to bare wood with wax embedded into both. If you spray the drawers, sand the finish back on the runners and wax.

From the original questioner:
Great! That's pretty much what I figured. I've always used metal runners for drawers so I've never had to encounter the more traditional approach. Plus never had a situation to use wax as a lubricant. I must say I do love fitting and the feel of wooden runners. I generally do things traditionally anyway. Thanks for the input!

From contributor F:
We used to use wood guides a long time ago and they worked very well. Seems the problem was that people did not learn to stop pulling the drawer all of the way out. A block attached to the back of the drawer that would turn out of the way, for removing the drawer, cured that problem.

We always used paraffin that comes in a box and is in blocks that are about 5/8" thick. You can buy it in the canning section at the grocery store. Wax up the guides and drawer bottoms or sides that contact the guides very well, then move the drawers in and out to make them work nice and smoothly.

From contributor D:
Instead of wax, Mohawk's Slideez (#M750-1205) is a far superior lubricant. It's a goopy material that's far easier to apply than wax. It has greater slipping properties than wax. It contains no silicone oils. You apply it with a rag. A little goes a long way. I've been using this stuff since 1984. It's lubricated parts that were already coated with wax, and yet the wax was no help at all.