Help with fixing a bad glue-up job

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Forum topic by Kevin posted 01-27-2013 01:30 PM 1816 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 3889 days

01-27-2013 01:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: repair glue question refurbishing finishing

I was recently given the task to find a small sofa table that we could place behind our sofa. I found one that was really great with some ornate carving and for a great price….great price because of someone’s previous repair FAIL.

The feet on the lower part of the legs are mortised into the leg – at some point, the glue must have failed from teh orignial construction and someone thought to attempt to repair it, but then put it to use before the glue cured completely. The tenons are pulled from the mortise on both sides causing it to wobble, etc. On one side it’s only slight – the other it’s out about 2 inches.

The glue has (obviously) dried since and now the mortises are pulled slightly out and the glue had cured. I’m unsure of the type of glue used, but it appears that it must have been fairly thick.

I thought about cutting out the tenon and replacing with a faux tenon for both, but since the tenon is mostly in on one side, I wouldn’t be able to do that without cutting part of the leg, which I’d prefer to avoid.

Is there a solvent that I could use on the glue to release it so that I can reset it properly? I’ve heard that heat can help, but how do you heat glue that is a full inch into the wood without damaging the wood?

Advice is apprecaited.


6 replies so far

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2516 days

#1 posted 01-27-2013 01:35 PM

Perhaps a pic of the problem area would help?

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Kevin's profile


5 posts in 3889 days

#2 posted 01-27-2013 01:46 PM

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2516 days

#3 posted 01-27-2013 01:50 PM

Oh wow! That IS a mess. I’m sure others will have more ideas but to start you off…. How ‘bout slice the leg(s) off, make both faces flat , and re-join them with something like a biscuit?

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Richard Miller's profile

Richard Miller

139 posts in 2479 days

#4 posted 01-27-2013 01:57 PM

I have repaired table legs like this by cutting of the legs filling the moritse and drilling in the 2 or 3 dowls and regluing.

-- Dick F,Burg Iowa

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3794 days

#5 posted 01-27-2013 02:03 PM


From what I can see in the picture, it doesn’t look like much of a glue joint is left. If the original repair person put a bunch of glue in the joint and the legs pulled out that far before the glue dried I would think there is not much glue left holding the leg.

Can you see if they might of put a small finishing nail in the base through the leg anywhere? If there is no sign of mechanical fasteners, I would try tapping the legs back and forth with a rubber mallet. Be careful and don’t beat up the finish. Any glue you can get to, dig out with a chisel or something to help weaken the glue joint.

I’m not sure what to use for trying to loosen or dissolve the glue, but you could try Naptha. It dissolves some adhesives and shouldn’t hurt the finish on the table. You can get Naptha usually at any of the big box stores or a good paint store like Sherwin Williams.

Good luck and let us know how you make out.

-- John @

View bondogaposis's profile


5540 posts in 2860 days

#6 posted 01-27-2013 03:52 PM

I would try using a heat gun on it. If the glue was hide glue it will come right apart, if not you are no worse off.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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