how do you unglue a yellow glued joint without destroying it?

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Forum topic by scottishrose posted 10-01-2009 02:03 AM 15949 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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110 posts in 3369 days

10-01-2009 02:03 AM

I’m taking a class in woodworking and being a bit miffed is putting it mildly. (I just got home and it wasn’t a good day.
I told my instructor the first day what kind of finish I wanted to put on my project, since I didn’t like the wood I was working with and haveing seen finishes that amazed me that they were the same wood, I would like to try and at least use my project to learn a new technique that I havn’t used yet. Last week we bought the stain and finishes we were going to use and were told that we should do some of the finishing before class today. When I talked to my instructor last night he said not to worrry and just bring it to class as it was and we would do it in class. In response I told him that the technique that I was using took a long time to dry and how were we going to work that out durring the class time. This morning I told him I intended on returning the stain I bought last week as it was not what I wanted to use. As the morning progressed and we were doing a raised panel and making the joints for the rails and stiles of the door I was getting more and more disappointed with my project as I really was dislikeing the the outcome and the wood I was working with and it looked quite ugly. Then the instructor just opened the stain and started applying it to the panel of my door which looked even uglier now and glued it up for me even thought I requested that he let me take it home and work on it so that I would get the finish I wanted in the end.
Now I have a very rough panel inset inside glued up rails and stiles, and since we didn’t finish this week anyway we are having one more class to finish up. So luckily I got away with the rest of my project unglued so I can get a good finish on it before class next week The problem is how do I get the rails and stile apart so I can sand the stain off and apply a wood filler and a french polish as I had intended in the first place?

I don’t want this class to be a complete waste of time as it cost quite a bit, and I havn’t even had the chance to change a router bit yet. I am quite disappointed that the insturctor has been running aroung setting everything up for us, so we don’t get the chance to learn how to set thing up for ourselves except to watch him do it which is not the same as doing it yourself. Any suggestions would be helpful.
Thanks to all you experts out there.

22 replies so far

View Karson's profile


35149 posts in 4604 days

#1 posted 10-01-2009 02:14 AM

I feel for you. A instructor is suppose to instruct and not do. He souldn’t have touched your wood and stain. If he wants to show a process it should be done on his own wood.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View patron's profile


13640 posts in 3545 days

#2 posted 10-01-2009 02:15 AM

some glues you can heat up ,
but with todays glue that might not be an option ?
maybe you just have to complete this one ,
and come back here for better help .
in the little window on top right ,
ask anything you want to know ,
and hit search next to it .
there are many tutorials and instructions here ,
about anything written here ,
or you can go to someones home page by clicking their picture ,
and sending them your questions

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View ToddTurner's profile


144 posts in 3527 days

#3 posted 10-01-2009 02:17 AM

Fire your instructor.

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3529 days

#4 posted 10-01-2009 02:20 AM

Wow, I can hardly believe that story. I would have exclaimed “what the heck are you doing???”. I wish I could answer. I guess the glue joint is too good to be tapped out?

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 3917 days

#5 posted 10-01-2009 02:21 AM

patron is right, todays glues are almost to good, if you try to take it apart you will probably destroy it. i would just make one more panel and finish it the way you want. i hate to ask, but i am in school also but where are you taking classes?

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View Mark's profile


1811 posts in 3477 days

#6 posted 10-01-2009 02:29 AM

when he tells you to submit your project tell him you never built one he did…..or put his name on the project and hand it in…we did that in trade school whenever our teacher liked to takeover projects

-- M.K.

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4096 days

#7 posted 10-01-2009 02:39 AM

Put it in a freezer for a day. The few times I have left something accidentally in my trailer during the winter, the glue joints gave way with just a little bit of pressure on them. If you will notice on the glue instructions of most bottles, it says “Do not freeze”. There is a reason for that.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3562 days

#8 posted 10-01-2009 03:16 AM

I can’t offer a suggestion about the joint, but I can offer some on the instructor. When the class is over, you will almost certainly be asked to do some sort of evaluation of the class. You should write a very poor review of the class and the instructor in particular. I had a similar situation in a week long class I took a few years back and the organization that ran it invited me back for another class, of my choice, anywhere in the U.S., for free as an apology. I suggest that your statement be polite, but don’t pull any punches. People pay an awful lot of money to take the classes and the people profiting from them don’t want you telling folks to avoid them. Good luck!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View manta's profile


25 posts in 4229 days

#9 posted 10-01-2009 03:35 AM

steam it… should soften it up, you may have to do some sanding because the steam will swell the wood at that area… but I have used a clothes steamer to soften regular yellow glue… maybe I was just luckey

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 4099 days

#10 posted 10-01-2009 03:38 AM

Scott – I’m sorry you are having such a bad time with your class. People take classes to learn – to do – not to watch alone. There is a fair bit of watching to be expected – but sounds like your instructor is well out-of-bounds. I’m with Dave – when the class is over write a review that honestly says what went wrong. If the school is worth anything at all – they’ll do something to make it right for you.

good luck.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View scottishrose's profile


110 posts in 3369 days

#11 posted 10-01-2009 04:14 AM

Thanks Every one!
It’’s in the freezer now, if that doesn’t work we have a steamer, I’ll try that. The class was throught the Woodcraft store. I took Sawdust Therapy for Women 101, which was great and since we didn’t have very much experience he started us out with a little hand held laminate trimmer then we worked our way up to the big routers. Along the way we used the band saw, drill press, jointer, plainer and the last day the dreaded table saw. The project was all planned out, so though you didn’t have to think about how it was going together, you got experience using all those tools and had a great project to take home. I was looking forward to 102 as I knew that we were going to build a small cabinet with a raised panel door, and it looked like a good skill set to get me going. Even though there are only two of us in the class and we have both had some experience – the instructor just runs aroung doing everything ahead of us setting up the next station for the project. This does not help me to come home and set up and use my own tools, which I was hoping for.
I was looking forward to 103 where the project is a shaker night stand with a drawer, however I think I could do better spending my few dollars some where else. The classes at Woodcraft are quite pricey although they keep them small which I like. I took a carpentry class once through the local trade school. Back then they didn’t have a dedicated campus so the class was at the local high school wood shop. I was the only woman in the class, and all the men had previous training. The teacher did a demonstration of the tools on the first night and then cut everyone loose to do their own thing. I never did finish up my project as I either had no experience on the tools, or the guys just took over on their projects. That was the opposite extreme – class enexpensive – no help from instructor. Wish I could find a happy medium.

View AaronK's profile


1507 posts in 3668 days

#12 posted 10-01-2009 04:14 AM

yeah, i’d try steaming it. not sure about the glues normally used for instruments, but the way they get acoustic guitars apart for repair is steaming.

View MattD's profile


150 posts in 4148 days

#13 posted 10-01-2009 04:50 AM

I don’t know if your instructor used Titebond, which is a popular yellow glue, but this is what Titebond’s site says about this:

The key to the disassembly of glue joints is weakening the bond. For Titebond Original and Titebond II, raising the glue joint temperature with a heat gun or a blow dryer will reduce the glue’s strength. Steam from an iron may also work for Titebond Original. Placing a few drops of water on the edge of a joint made with Titebond Liquid Hide Glue will, after absorbed, cause the joint to weaken.

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

View Karson's profile


35149 posts in 4604 days

#14 posted 10-01-2009 05:00 AM

We’ve got a build a shaker table this weekend at our woodworking club. Cost 85.00 That includes all materials.

Wish we could have you join us.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View TraumaJacques's profile


433 posts in 3704 days

#15 posted 10-01-2009 05:00 AM

Get your money back and report the instructor, what he did was wrong and disrespectful to you and I am sure the school (unless he is the owner) will not support his actions.

Also remind him that you reach about 11 000 woodworkers on this site alone he may apologise lol.
Dave is right trash him on the eveluation.

-- All bleeding will eventually stop.

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