How to Remove Desk Drawers

There are many reasons why one would want their desk drawers removed. Cleaning, replacing, transporting, or fixing the drawers, sliders, or the desk itself — to do any of these tasks, you must first remove the drawers.

Removing drawers from a desk is very easy, but the process will vary depending on the type of drawer slides you have.

Let’s discuss the different methods of removing desk drawers, depending on the type of slider they use, so you can get the job done more efficiently.

How to Remove a Desk Drawer

Since there are different types of drawers and slides, sometimes you may need to use special tools. And to remove the drawers correctly using the right tool, you must first identify which type of drawer slide you’re dealing with. Be diligent when making this estimate, as it will affect the rest of the procedure.

How to Remove Desk Drawers With Metal Glides With Levers

The most popular slide type is the metal glide with levers.

The number one rule when removing these drawers is to start with the upper drawer, as most of the weight is at the bottom. Because of this, it’s safer to gradually remove one drawer after another, starting from the top.

Open the Drawer

To remove the drawer, stand in front of the desk and pull it out as much as you can. Hold the drawer with both hands, each firmly placed on each side of the drawer. Leave space between the drawer and yourself to ensure it’s fully opened.

Find the Levers

Next, you need to find the levers. They’re usually positioned in the middle of the glide track for each drawer. The levers can either have a curvy or straight shape, depending on the type of desk. Straight levers are typically used on full-extension slides, while curvy ones are used for slides that only allow the drawer to open up to three-quarters.

Press the levers using both hands at the same time. This should be fairly simple with straight levers. All you need to do is to press firmly. With curvy levers, however, you will need to hold the press until you feel the area has become flat.

Pull Out the Drawer

With the levers passed, pull out the drawer. If it’s not filled with heavy items, it should be easy to lift it. If there are items in the drawer, it’s best to remove everything before attempting to pull it out.

When the drawer is out and you see the tracks, push them back. In case you damage them while removing the drawer, you can buy a new pair of metal glides with levers online for a good price.

How to Remove Wood-Glide, Free-Rolling Desk Drawers

Once again, begin with the top drawer by standing in front of the desk. Slide the drawer out by pulling it by the knob or handle. Since wooden drawers are usually found on old tables, be very gentle to avoid damaging the desk or drawers.

If there’s no stopper, the drawer will come out as you pull it. If there is a stopper, you’ll feel the drawer resisting at some point. To prevent them from falling out, most drawers have a stopping mechanism, which is usually a tiny lip placed on the inner track’s front side.

Once you’ve got the drawer fully out, push it down slightly while holding the front knob so the back part elevates. It could get stuck, in which case you should gently rock or shake it. However, avoid getting rough with it, as you may break or damage it.

Finally, pull out the drawer when you see that the wheels or the back end of the drawer have passed the stopper. Just slide it off the track and pull out from the opening. Place it on a flat surface nearby and repeat the procedure with all the remaining drawers.

If the drawer is not coming out, the reason is likely a more complex stopping mechanism. There could be a lever preventing the drawer from coming out or a set of stabilizer screws. Find out how to solve this issue in the next section.

How to Remove Desk Drawers With Stabilizer Screws?

Stabilizer screws are usually located at the bottom part of the drawer tracks. They aim to secure the tracks so they’re more stable. Follow these steps to remove this type of drawer.

Look for Levers

Before you do anything, make sure you’re dealing with a drawer with stabilizer screws.

If the drawer has metal tracks but no screws at the end, it could be a lever-type drawer like the one we described in the first section. Touch around and try to find a pair of levers on the tracks, then press them to release the drawer. If, however, you see or feel the screws at the end, proceed with the next step.

Unscrew the Stabilizer Screws

Once you’ve located the stabilizer screws, take a screwdriver and turn them counterclockwise to loosen them. Then, pull the screws out from the holes and put them aside. Don’t lose them, as you’ll need to put them back when it’s time to reassemble the desk.

Most drawers with stabilizer screws use screw model #8, which is two inches. Still, make sure you examine them carefully because some require a flathead, while others require a crosshead screwdriver.

Pull out the Tabs

Once the screws are out, pull both tabs simultaneously and take out the drawer. Be prepared that it may be heavy, as the drawers that use stabilizing screws are usually heavier than those without. You’ll notice how the upper half of the track is getting off the bottom part, thus setting the drawer free.

Hold the catch tabs of the drawer firmly and slide it through its tracks. Make sure the drawer is as straight as possible and nicely aligned with the tracks so it doesn’t get stuck.

As you move on to the next drawers, always check the lip on the inner right side for a number. These numbers tell you the order of the drawers, and knowing these numbers will make it much easier to put them back into place.

Put the Drawers Back In

When it’s time to put the drawers back, you need to employ a reversed tactic. First, align the door and the track. Second, set the catch tab lower and over the lower half of the track. Finally, put in the screws and tighten them up.

How to Remove Desk Drawers With Anti-Tip Cables

If you’re dealing with a drawer with anti-tip cables, pull it out to the point where it stops and then look at its backside. From there, try to see a tiny metal cable holding the drawer attached to the desk. The cable allows only one drawer to be opened at a time.

Anti-tip cables are a common safety feature on heavy desks and other pieces of furniture that might lose their stability if more than one drawer is opened simultaneously.

On both the top and bottom parts of the drawer, you’ll see that the cables are attached to special inserts on the back side of the drawer.

It’s also possible to find a screw or two, but this depends on the design. If you find some, loosen them up by turning them counterclockwise until they can be pulled out by hand.

After this, look at the rear part of the tracks on both sides of the drawer. Do you see any adjustable tabs there? If yes, press them simultaneously to detach them, and let the drawer slide out. Hold the edges of the drawer firmly while you work on the tabs. Both tabs should be completely pushed in, and if they don’t stand in place without you holding them, keep pushing them down until the drawer is out.

Pull the drawer out. It may be necessary to lift it a little bit or shake it gently so you can slide it off the tracks more easily. Don’t forget to press the tracks back into the desk before you start with the next drawer.

How to Remove Desk Drawers With Soft Closing

If you’re dealing with a high-end or customized desk, it likely has soft-close drawers. The key feature here is the soft-close mechanism that prevents you from damaging the drawer if you were to close it roughly. Therefore, the drawer closes gently, no matter how hard you push it when closing.

Here’s how to take the soft-close drawers out.

First, pull the drawer out as far as it goes. Check for any clips or locking levers on the guides. Remove the clips from the guides, or in the case of the lever, press it hard while pulling out the drawer. Keep pressing and pulling until the drawer is derailed completely. You might need to tilt it a bit to set it free.

How to Remove Desk Roll Top

Roll-top desks usually have a foldable cover that goes over their top side. This creates a hidden section at the desk. To remove the roll-top from your desk, you first need to close all drawers, especially those right underneath the roll-top. Then, open the roll-top so you can gain access to the screws connecting the drawer to the desk. It may be necessary to remove the drawers below the roll-top to access the screws.

Unscrew the screws, remove the roll-top from the desk, and remove the tambour by sliding the doors.

How to Remove Desk Drawers With Full Extension Slides

Full extension slides are not so common on small to medium-sized drawers. They are much more common on wider drawers, usually located on the side or at the bottom of desks. Pull the whole drawer out to reveal the entire length of the slide. Then, to release it, you need to find either a button, lever, or latch and press it hard. Lift the bottom side of the drawer and gently touch the slides with your fingers until you find the latch to remove the slide on the bottom.

Slides on the side are usually visible.

You can tilt the drawer a bit if any safety bits need to be removed. If the drawer gets stuck while trying to pull it out, wiggle it to set it free.


How to put the drawers back in?

In most cases, you need to back-track the removal procedure and repeat all steps in reverse. If the drawers have slides that can bear balls, all you need to hear is a click when you try to put them back in. If there is resistance, check if all parts are in place before proceeding.

Why are my drawers stopping at ¾ of the way?

There are a few possible reasons why this is happening. For instance, the ball bearings that go into the sliders may have incorrect sizes, have been incorrectly installed, or the levers may be worn out.

Also, it’s possible that instead of in the middle, you are pushing the wheels/ball bearings on the upper edge of the slider. In other cases, you may need to replace or reinstall the ball bearings or change the sliders.

Can I buy new sliders that can be attached to the drawer?

Yes. Your local hardware shop probably sells sliders for different types of drawers, but you can also check online, as Amazon and other local marketplaces also have them.

Final Word

Removing desk drawers is relatively easy. All you need are simple tools that every household has, and sometimes not even that.

What you’re about to do after (cleaning, fixing, replacing) will probably take longer than removing the drawers. Regardless of the type of drawers you have, just follow our advice and you’ll remove them without a fuss.

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