Help on removing solid wood trim from plywood cabinet

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Forum topic by rogerh113 posted 12-12-2016 01:35 AM 1733 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 1586 days

12-12-2016 01:35 AM


I am rebuilding some speaker cabinets, and in order resize them I need to remove the solid wood trim. I plan on reconstructing the cabinets and reusing the trim. The cabinets are of good quality, old (maybe 60s), and the trim seems to be glued (and not nailed) on.

I am not sure if there are any special techniques. My plan was to run a razor knife along the seam and then use a sharp, broad blade chisel and slowly work along the length of the trim strips tapping lightly to get under the strip. Hopefully that will pop it off in fairly short order.

Any suggestions or alternatives would be useful to hear about.


11 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1820 posts in 3915 days

#1 posted 12-12-2016 02:45 AM

You might get lucky and find that it was glued on with hot hide glue. If so, heat and moisture will cause the glue to release. I don’t have any more info but maybe LumberJock Shipwright will see this and chime in with more info…

Good Luck and…

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

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8798 posts in 3464 days

#2 posted 12-12-2016 03:56 AM

I tried what you are proposing on some drawer faces I had glued with today’s wood glue. It had been assembled for 10 years at least. Nothing released the glue chiseling them off made a mess of both pieces. In the end I decided I would make new fronts and cut them off on the bandsaw and sanded the old glue and what had stayed from the front off. Lesson learned here, no glue on something I think I might need to take apart, like shops drawers….... LOL

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View rogerh113's profile


4 posts in 1586 days

#3 posted 12-12-2016 04:10 AM

This cabinet is pretty old, and one of the trim pieces fell off. I am hoping the wood glue is a bit weak. I experimented with the inside bits on the cabinet. The glue is still fairly strong, but I got the inside parts off without too much damage (some veneer lifting). Trying to figure out how to minimize the damage. I am going to need the trim when I reconstruct the cabinet – so need to get it off intact…...


View shampeon's profile


2167 posts in 3239 days

#4 posted 12-12-2016 04:14 AM

Steam and heat would be my suggestion. Heat is probably more important than steam, but both would be best. Trying to pry them off without loosening the glue will not work unless the glue is already crumbling. And don’t use a chisel, use a flexible paint scraper to work your way into the joint. The sharp edge of the chisel is not your friend here. You could look up instructions on removing guitar fretboards, as that is a similar operation.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View bondogaposis's profile


5978 posts in 3406 days

#5 posted 12-12-2016 05:53 AM

I think it would be easier to make new trim.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Robert's profile


4522 posts in 2536 days

#6 posted 12-12-2016 03:09 PM

You can also try using a 4” wide putty knife and a hammer.

Tell us what is so special about the trim?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View mike02130's profile


170 posts in 1728 days

#7 posted 12-12-2016 03:16 PM

I second the putty knife. You may want to thin it down a bit on a belt or orbital sander.

-- Google first, search forums second, ask questions later.

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4 posts in 1586 days

#8 posted 12-12-2016 03:25 PM

My intent with the project was to reconfigure and restore the speaker cabinets. These are vintage speaker cabinets called Altec Magnificents, and for a reason. Pretty much top of the line back then. Sadly these were treated less than well, in a church I think. The drivers had been removed, and cabinets this big (48×31x24) generally cannot find a home. I had been looking for some vintage cabinets to house some vintage Altec drivers (604s) that I have, and this seemed a match made in heaven – I ‘just’ need to narrow them by about 10 inches. In any case, I would like to keep them as original as possible aside from that.

Clearly if things don’t work out, then that is the way it is. I would like to try to sort of get them back the way they were – but with a bit of patina from age, of course.

View muleskinner's profile


941 posts in 3492 days

#9 posted 12-12-2016 05:08 PM

If all else fails and I really wanted that trim off (I’m assuming we’re talking about the face of the speaker) I might try running my multitool to cut along the seam.

-- Visualize whirled peas

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Fred Hargis

6926 posts in 3549 days

#10 posted 12-12-2016 07:03 PM

If you have or know anybody with a track saw, I’ve used that to cut face frames off cabinets that I wanted to save. Just lay the track so the saw kerf is in the carcase.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View rogerh113's profile


4 posts in 1586 days

#11 posted 12-12-2016 07:39 PM


The edged putty knife worked really well. Actually used 2 – one to keep the ‘crack’ open as I moved along the trim strip. Also removed the top front strip as well. Still have 2 tricky ones left (front uprights) depending on what I decide on the final layout.

Thanks for the suggestions. I have a long way to go on this, doing things for the first time. Likely I will be back….


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