Releasing Old Glue Joints

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Forum topic by TheWoodenOyster posted 02-03-2018 08:04 PM 802 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1329 posts in 2441 days

02-03-2018 08:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: glue joint

Hey guys-

I have an old mid century modern chair that I am trying to take apart and refinish. My guess is it is probably from the 60’s or so. The joints are all mortise and tenon or dowels with really good tight fits. Chair is maple. I am not sure what kind of glue was used, but a few of the joints have come loose over time, so that does give me some hope that I may be able to get the rest to release. Do any of you have tips or tricks on getting these old glue joints to come loose?



-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

10 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1801 posts in 3365 days

#1 posted 02-03-2018 08:30 PM

If it’s hide glue it can be released by using heat. Moisture helps so a steam source can work well.

Other glues are generally not releasable.

Good Luck!


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

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10477 posts in 4154 days

#2 posted 02-03-2018 10:49 PM

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12904 posts in 2886 days

#3 posted 02-03-2018 11:04 PM

The enemy of glue is heat.

-- Rick M,

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Richard Lee

254 posts in 1281 days

#4 posted 02-03-2018 11:17 PM

The enemy of glue is heat.

- Rick_M

Or Kids.

View Lazyman's profile


3930 posts in 1893 days

#5 posted 02-03-2018 11:30 PM

Are you trying to just remove the loose joints or the disassemble the whole chair? If the other joints are sound, I wouldn’t mess with them unless you have to.

Some pictures of the problems may help get more specific advice.

PVA was pretty widely used by any large furniture companies from about the 60’s (at least) on so chances are that is the kind of glue that was used. That will make it fairly difficult to get appart without doing more damage unless the joint is already loose. Note if it is PVA, you have to completely remove the old glue, without making the joint even looser to reglue it. PVA will not bond to PVA.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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12904 posts in 2886 days

#6 posted 02-04-2018 03:14 AM

Or Kids.

- Richard Lee


-- Rick M,

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4964 posts in 1095 days

#7 posted 02-04-2018 04:42 AM

I’ve never seen a glue joint that could resist a hammer.

-- Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to sound smarter the faster they come at you.

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75 posts in 1940 days

#8 posted 02-04-2018 10:59 AM

Heat gun.

Check out Thomas Johnson antique restoration on YouTube

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3020 days

#9 posted 02-04-2018 01:51 PM

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, when I had my refinishing shop, I would get in loose chairs every week.

I used to bang them apart with rubber mallets, with success but once in a while, would snap one off and have to remake the stringer or dowel it.

Then, we got smart and if the chair could be stretched so the hole was clear and the peg was available, just sand it all down to get rid of the old glue, (usually some sort of PVA or old hide glue, sometimes some awful who knows what the owner tried to use), then hand saw a groove in the end of the stringer/leg, etc., put in a wedge in the male end groove, and reglue and press it back together. Saved probably hundreds of chairs that way, and it was much faster and easy.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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1329 posts in 2441 days

#10 posted 02-06-2018 02:45 AM

Thanks for the input guys. I am going to give the rubber mallet method a shot and see what I can do.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

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