A reader's Woodwork question: Wooden slides lubricant?

Alun H.   from   Houston, United States   had this Wooden slides lubricant question.

I have a wooden dining table that can be extended to add up to two leaves. The extension mechanism consists of simple wooden slides. Through temperature and humidity changes over the years, the wooden slide assembly has swollen, and it is very difficult to open and/or close the table. I have dis-assembled the whole slide and am going to sand down with a belt sander. before re-assembly. What type of lubricant can I apply to the slides where there is wood to wood contact to help binding? I was thinking of using a candle and rubbing it on the wood? Is Teflon spray suitable - if yes, can you please recommend any name brands? Thank you

Bill's reply

Hi Alun,
  • Alun, why don't you just use a sharp smoothing plane to work on the slides. A belt sander is a it of overkill, surely?
  • I don't see any point in using any high tech Teflon style stuff. That's OK for nylon or plastic type runners but wax is fine for timber.
  • When I served my apprenticeship we did just as you suggest, rubbed drawer slides with candle wax. Or even a good quality hard soap.
  • After you have rubbed it in give the area treated a light rub down with a fine wire wool to remove the excess.
  • The fine wire wool is a cabinetmakers trick that has been used for ages for fine sanding between coats of lacquer etc. A lot cheaper and more efficient than sand paper/wet or dry etc.
  • A more precise way is to dissolve a small amount of wax with pure gum turpentine. Paint the mixture on the new untreated slides.
  • When the turps evaporates off you are left with a very fine layer of wax.
  • The pure gum turpentine is the original turps that was used with all oil based paints. It has the smell of freshly sawn pine timber. It is now replaced with mineral turps of course, but I found some at my local hardware store a while back.
  • For your job though, if you have mineral turps handy I'd say use it. After all it is only the medium that helps the wax soak into the timber.
Cheers Bill.

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