How-to: Unstick furniture with this simple trick

A few weeks ago, all our friends simultaneously decided to spontaneously have dinner at our place. As we went to expand the table from 4 to 12 seatings we found out the extension had become really hard to install.

We would usually quickly slide the two sections of the table apart and fit the extension in the middle, but it was now extremely sticky and we had to wiggle for 5 min before we finally got to the extended position.

If you are familiar with this situation, here is a simple trick you can use to smooth the slides.

You can use this trick on any sliding wooden part.

Why does it stick?

Temperature and humidity affect the wood and any variation will change its shape. You might find that the drawer of your buffet opens easily in the summer but sticks in the autumn. To simplify, it contracts in hot and dry settings and expands with humidity. Because the piece fits so neatly in its track, the slightest change will be noticeable.

In our case we have recently changed flats. The higher humidity level of the new flat has expanded the wood enough that it did not slide well anymore. If we were to move to the south of Spain I am confident the table will slide open without effort again. But we chose a single glazing appartement in the rainy North of France ;).

Using Candle and Soap

This trick works almost all the time. Take a candle or a bar of soap and slide against both the wood and the tracks. The candle/soap will remove the friction and help the parts slide smoothly.


The soap will not work if the wood has expanded too much that it is simply does not fit the track anymore. In such case, you will have to sand it. By sanding you will slowly remove enough material to make it fit again. Be careful since this cannot be reverted. Do it by hand, work slowly and test fit often.

A medium paper (between 80 and 100) will work fine (the higher the number is, the finer the finish will be).

This way we were able to accommodate our 12 hungry friends, and so will you!