Recently the vertical spice drawer at the mountain writing retreat jammed. Very frustrating when you use spices as much as I do. And very difficult to fix since the drawer is a self-contained unit. Unlike horizontal drawers, there is no access from above or below. Or, from the side. Somehow a spice container had fallen and blocked the drawer from sliding.
Over a period of several days, I attempted to fix the jammed vertical spice drawer. First, I tried wiggling the drawer from side to side. No luck. Then, I used a plastic spatula. The kind for flipping hamburgers not scraping out cake mix, but again, no luck. The spatula was just too short to make a difference.
Multiple days of this proved trying the same thing over and over consistently yields the same outcome, in this case failure. So, I made a trip to a big box hardware store in a neighboring town. The thought was to find a flexible piece of very thin metal. I found two candidates in the hardware aisle. To be honest I have no idea of their “real” purpose. But both were inexpensive and worth a try.
Jammed Vertical Spice Drawer- The Fix
Once back in the kitchen a new dilemma surfaced. I do not own this home and do not want to damage the gorgeous custom cabinetry. That includes scratches! So, I decided to wrap the metal pieces with a paper bag. This kept the metal from scratching but neither piece worked. One piece was too pliable and the other not pliable enough. Definitely a Goldilocks experience.
But the paper bags triggered an aha moment. I folded one in half, vertically, and was able to slide it in more than the three inches the spatula had yielded. So, then I slid the bag up and down the right side. No blockage.
I left the first bag on the right side and folded a second bag and checked the left side. The bag jammed down at the bottom on the lower left. But the bag was not stiff enough to move whichever spice jar had fallen and jammed. So, I used the second bag to create a space at the bottom of the drawer and began searching for a piece of cardboard.
Recycling Saves the Day
Digging through the recycling bin, I found the perfect item. Not as thick as regular cardboard, but stiffer than cardstock, the ideal candidate was the backing from the packaging of a new vegetable scraper. With the two paper bags holding the jammed vertical spice drawer in place, I was able to use both hands to work the package backing up and down at the bottom edge.
Finally, the item jamming the drawer moved and the vertical spice drawer popped open. And many items tumbled out. The most likely candidates for troublemaking spices were bottles of extracts and small boxes of herbs. Similar items have been removed from the cabinet. No need to repeat the disaster!
I am thankful the jammed item was toward the front of the drawer as I did not have a two-foot-long piece of recycled card to use. A key take-away is to not overfill one of these spice cabinets. Furthermore, extract bottles and paper spice holders should be stored elsewhere. If you ever get a stuck vertical drawer of any kind, try this troubleshooting technique.