How To Fix Metal File Cabinet Drawer: Quick And Easy Solutions




Hey! Need help with your file cabinet drawers? Are they jammed? Is filing cabinet drawer stuck open? Is something wrong with the locking mechanism too?

Poor thing! Don’t get stressed. Seems like you’ve managed to reach the right place. I have been fixing file cabinets for a while now.

How To Fix Metal File Cabinet Drawer

So, how to fix metal file cabinet drawer? I can help you with that! All you need to do is-

Fix Metal File Cabinet Drawer

  • Assess the issues, inspect the slides and tracks, the locking mechanism, and check for any misalignment.
  • Repair the slides, tracks, and the locking mechanism.
  • Lubricate the slides and tracks.

This is the outline of the process. Now that you have an idea of the process, let’s move on to the details.

A quick overview of the project-

Estimated CostEstimated DurationSkill Level
$1005 hoursBeginners

Summery of the article is-

  • The drawers get jammed because of the misalignment or bent metal.
  • The drawer slides wear out, which leads to difficulty in moving the drawers. 
  • DIY projects are cost-effective but require time and learning new skills.

Common Issues That Can Occur With Metal File Cabinet Drawers

Before moving to how do you fix a drawer on a filing cabinet, there’s something important you should know.

These are some common issues that occur with metal file drawers and why. The reason I want you to know this is that I want you to have a complete guide.

So that whenever you have any problem with your metal filing cabinet, you can find it without looking anymore. The issues are;

Common Issues That Can Occur With Metal File Cabinet Drawers

Difficulty In Opening Or Closing

Is your metal filing cabinet drawer won’t close or open properly? Though it seems normal, it can greatly affect the cabinet function. This can happen for a few reasons. 

For example, misalignment of the side-mount runners, warping of the metal, or debris accumulation in the tracks. This even can cause a twisted cabinet door.

Jammed Drawers

Is your steelcase file cabinet drawer stuck? Does your metal pedestal cabinet drawer not open even if it is unlocked? It is because your metal drawers are jammed.

It can happen due to misalignment or bent metal even for a bubbled cabinet. If any foreign object is stuck somewhere in the drawer, it can also disrupt the drawer.

Drawer Slides Malfunctioning

Is there something wrong with the movement of your file drawer? Is it not moving smoothly like before? It is because the slides are malfunctioning or caused by bubbled cabinets.

The drawer slides or rollers can wear out. It leads to difficulty in moving the drawers. Ultimately, this results in a wobbly or uneven movement of the drawers.

Locking Mechanism Issues

Is your file cabinet drawer locking mechanism not working? Facing issues opening your lateral file cabinets?

The locking mechanism of your drawers is malfunctioning. So, it is making it difficult to lock or unlock the drawers properly.

So, now you know the issues with your file cabinet drawers and why they are occurring.

No worries. I am going to talk about solutions to all these problems. You can rest assured.

Process Of Removing Metal File Cabinet Drawers

As you know, you need to remove the file cabinet drawers first to fix them. It will make the cabinet lighter and easier to work with.

You might be thinking about how to take the drawers out of a metal filing cabinet. It is quite easy:

Process Of Removing Metal File Cabinet Drawers
  • Remove all contents from the drawer.
  • Pull the drawer out as far as it will go to access the release mechanism.
  • Look for the file cabinet drawer release on the drawer slides.
    • This can be in the form of levers, tabs, or clips on each side of the drawer.
  • Depending on the type of release mechanism, lift or press the levers, tabs, or clips to release the drawer from the slides. 
  • Once the drawer is released, support it with your hand.
  • Lift the drawer fronts slightly and pull them forward to remove them from the cabinet.
  • If there are problems with multiple drawers, repeat this process for all of them.

You can follow these steps to remove drawers from any basic file cabinet. But, for other types of filing cabinets, such as steelcase file cabinet drawer removal, you must follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

How do you open a stuck file cabinet drawer? If this is your concern, you can use these steps to open that too.

If your cabinet is old and you are wondering how to remove drawers from old metal filing cabinet, the process is the same.

However, you need to be extra careful while dealing with old metal or steel filing cabinets. Otherwise, you may end up damaging the actual cabinet too.

How To Fix Metal File Cabinet Drawer?

As we have talked earlier, different issues can arise with metal cabinet drawers. 

So, I can’t give you a short answer to that. Instead, I will share how to find out the issues and fix them.

Shall we start?

How To Fix Metal File Cabinet Drawer

Assess The Issues

Do you know what is the most important step in any restoration process? It is to identify the problems before starting the actual process.

It helps to fix the problems precisely without missing anything. So, assess the issues properly. However, in this case, fix the gap between the cabinet and the wall.

Inspect The Tracks & Slides

The next thing you need to do is check for any debris, rust, or damage on the drawer slides and tracks.  Sometimes, the accumulation of debris, rust, or damage causes the drawers to falter. So, Clean the tracks with a brush and test if the drawers move smoothly or not. If there are still problems after cleaning the tracks, you can move forward.

Fix Misalignment

Another common issue that may be making your hon lateral file cabinet drawer stuck is misalignment. So, check if the drawer is properly aligned within the filing cabinet. 

If it’s misaligned, gently lift and adjust the drawer to ensure it sits correctly on the tracks. It will get rid of the misalignment.

Well, how do you remove a drawer from an old metal filing cabinet? You need to fully extend the drawer and lift the front of the drawer while simultaneously pulling it forward to release it from the tracks. Boom! You are done!

Repair Damaged Tracks or Slides

If you find any bent or damaged tracks or slides while assessing, replace them with new ones. It is easy to remove them. All you need to do is unscrew the damaged slide, remove the damaged one, and secure the new one with the screws.

Repair The Locking Mechanism

If there are issues with the locking mechanism, check for any visible damage. You need to replace the damaged mechanism.

However, if there is no damage but your filing cabinet won’t unlock with key, try cleaning it. It will fix it.

Lubricate The Tracks

After doing all these, if your tracks are still not smooth, you need to apply a lubricant. Apply a small amount of lubricant all over the tracks. Make sure to wipe off the excess lubricant.

Test And Adjust

After you have to fix it, carefully test the drawer. If there are still problems, readjust the drawer until it is completely fixed.

Finishing Touches

Now, you can add the finishing touches to transform your basic filing cabinet. You can start by fixing the worn-out hardware. If the knobs are too worn-out, replace them and install new cabinet knobs.

For wooden drawers and cabinets, you should fix split wood on your cabinet, too.

You can refinish the pedestal cabinet drawer front and the cabinet body. It will not only fix paint chips on your cabinet but also turn your boring metal file cabinet into a brand-new one.

But be careful while refinishing old wood cabinets as they tend to be fragile. If you follow these steps properly, your cabinet drawers will be fixed. 

However, if you are still unsure about some issues and you are not sure what to do, I recommend contacting a professional near you. 

How To Remove A File Cabinet Drawer

How Do You Put Metal Filing Cabinet Drawers Back In?

If you are concerned about how to put the file drawers back inside the metal or blueprint cabinet, don’t worry. The process is simple.

Fully extend the slides on both sides of the cabinet. It will provide space for the drawer to be reinserted.

Hold the drawer at a slight upward angle. Then, align the slides on each side of the drawer with the corresponding tracks inside the cabinet. Then, slide the drawer onto the tracks. The slides should fit securely into the tracks so make sure of it.

Now, push the drawer toward the back of the cabinet. Apply a small amount of force to make the drawer slide smoothly.

If the drawer is fully inside, test it by opening and closing it a few times. You should check the movement and position once more. That’s it.

How Do I Prevent Future Issues With The Metal File Cabinet Drawer After Making Repairs?

Worried about future issues with your newly fixed cabinet drawers? Fear not. These are things you can do to prevent them;

How Do I Prevent Future Issues With The Metal File Cabinet Drawer After Making Repairs
  • Regularly inspect and maintain the file cabinet. It includes cleaning the tracks and slides and applying lubricant to ensure smooth operation.
  • Clean the cabinet interior and drawer tracks to prevent debris and dirt. It will stop causing operational issues.
  • Do not overload the file drawers. This can put a strain on the tracks and slides.
  • Make sure to check the alignment of the drawer within the cabinet once in a while to ensure it sits properly on the tracks.
  • Be gentle when opening and closing the drawer. Always avoid forcing it if it doesn’t move smoothly.
  • Notice any signs of wear, misalignment, or cabinet damage. Fix them promptly to prevent further issues from developing.

DIY Vs Professional: Which Can Fix Metal File Cabinet Drawer

As you can see, there are both DIY and professional options to fix metal cabinet drawers. Now, you must be wondering what is the best one for your cabinet drawers.

So, to help you make that decision, here are the differences between DIY and professional fixing;

Suitable for minor issues such as cleaning, lubricating tracks, making simple adjustments, etc.Suitable for minor issues but also major issues such as repairing damages, structural issues, safety locks issues, etc.
Cost-effective but requires time and learning new skills.Costly but saves time because they already have the expertise, tools, and experience.
If you don’t have any prior knowledge or experience, there are risks of ruining the file drawers.Ensures that the repairs are carried out correctly.

Some main facts-

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

How Do You Open A Stuck File Cabinet Drawer?

You can use lubricant to smooth out the movements, and you will be able to open the stuck drawer.

If The Metal Drawer Is Misaligned, What Steps Can Be Taken To Realign It?

You should clean the tracks, adjust the drawer position, check for bent components, repair or replace damaged parts, and lubricate the tracks.

What Should Be Done If The Drawer Is Off Its Tracks Or Rollers?

Reposition the drawer and the drawer will be on its track again.

What Tools And Materials Are Essential For Repairing A Metal File Cabinet Drawer?

You will need screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, a utility knife, lubricant, a clean brush or cloth, replacements for the damaged parts, and safety gear.

Summing Up

This is how to fix metal file cabinet drawer. I know the process seems lengthy but it is just the words. 

The actual process is quite easy and simple. However, you need to be careful or you will end up causing more damage. 

Don’t worry about that. I have already mentioned the do’s and don’ts. So, just gear up and go for it.

All the best!

If you are interested in learning more about restoring a table, stay with- Restore Journey.

Richard Journey

Written by

Richard Journey

Meet Richard Journey, the Antique Furniture Maestro. With a Fine Arts degree in Furniture Restoration and Conservation, he’s a guardian of historical craftsmanship. His accolades include the Golden Chisel Award, and he’s your guide to discovering and restoring antique treasures.

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