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Forum topic by NotaJock posted 02-18-2018 05:01 PM 574 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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178 posts in 1901 days

02-18-2018 05:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question recycle poison glue

By the time it got to me an old dressing table was missing the mirror on the back and all the inner drawers and one side was broken off the top but it is mahagony so it shouldn’t go to the landfill. Breaking it apart has been a challenge and an education. Built in 1922 with 3/8” dowels and glue it doesn’t come apart easily as I’ve nothing to soften the glue with and most every piece of it had 2 dowels in each end. It has 8 legs each of which has 4 dowels. Almost all the smaller pieces are solid mahogony but the larger slabs are mahogony veneer over some white wood. If I were to sand off the finish off the outside and the stain off the inside of the veneered pieces then glue what’s left into slabs for an endgrain cutting board, what are the chances of poisoning myself using such a cutting board from the glues used in veneering in the 1920s?

-- Mike in SoCal, now East Texas

3 replies so far

View Ripper70's profile


1378 posts in 1710 days

#1 posted 02-18-2018 05:33 PM

...what are the chances of poisoning myself using such a cutting board from the glues used in veneering in the 1920s?

- NotaJock

Hmm. 50/50? 60/40? 100 to 1? What chance are you wiling to take? My guess is they probably used hide glue and is therefore not toxic.

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

View jerryminer's profile


960 posts in 2243 days

#2 posted 02-18-2018 08:03 PM

Mahogany is not a great species for cutting boards because it is so porous—- but the glue should be safe.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Lazyman's profile


5634 posts in 2189 days

#3 posted 02-18-2018 09:25 PM

From the 1920’s it is very likely that they used hide glue which is not toxic but would come off during washing of a cutting board. Based upon my research, I think that chemical glues where not widely used until the 30’s. One advantage to using hide glue is that the joints can be “unglued” or reversed with heat and moisture. Look for info on restoring turn of the 20th century furniture for techniques. The veneer was probably also attached with hide glue which can be easily removed with heat and moisture.

Another feature of hide glues is that the joints can sometimes be broken using shock with a sharp blow from a mallet or using a chisel to split a joint. Mortise and tenon joints are tough with either heat/moisture or the shock method so require considerable patience. If you are not trying to repair the furniture, you can simply saw them apart and leave the tenon in the wood as a plug.

But if it really is mahogany, I would find a use for it other than a cutting board.

-- 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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