Unsticking Dried Woodglue

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Forum topic by LeeGladman posted 02-06-2011 09:26 PM 4484 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 2110 days

02-06-2011 09:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: butchers block woodglue unstick tip question

Hi All,

I need help with a problem I’ve encountered building a small kitchen Island/builders block.
I need to unglue a butchers block that I have made.

A few months ago I began working on an project composed of two parts.

the first was to be an old school end-grain butchers block made of steamed beech
(traditionally used by butchers here in the UK),
measuring 850mm long X 450mm wide X 150mm deep.

The second component was a kitchen island/cabinet containing 2 full width drawers that allowed the butchers block to rest at bench-top height when completed.
I’ve had no problem with this second part and have finished it completely.

I began building the end-grain butchers block by sawing all the component pieces (64 pieces 95X45X150mm deep framed all round by 45mm thick by 150mm deep frame. At this point it was all looking good and I went so far as to drill 2 x through the 450mm width of the block to reinforce/ clamp the block together using 10mm rebar, nuts and washers.

All this was dry fitted, then glued (with standard PVA wood glue), & clamped in place and at the end I had a lovely looking butchers block.
Fast forwarding a few weekends, I had now completed the cabinetry for this to sit on when I noticed that the butchers block itself had started splitting at the seams.

The steamed beech had started to warp and move to such an extent that in several places I could see right through the 5mm (1/8 inch) gaps that had opened up in my lovely work. (i’d say 50 percent of the joints remain perfect and the remaining 50 are all shifting and warping).

I’m now at a point where I want to unglue the whole mess and start again, and I have 2 questions for you knowledgable and experienced lot that I’d appreciate some help with.

1.. How do I go about unsticking the whole mess?

I’ve tried heat from an iron.. it works very well, although only where I can get direct application of heat to the woodglue, and as such is impossible to get into the joints that I need to get unstuck.

I tried using one of my japanese handsaws to make very fine cuts along the joints, but the friction seems to melt the glue, clog the blade and render them ineffective.

I’ve tried injecting white vinegar via a syringe onto the joints, but this doesn’t seem to work. (Although I’d be willing to hear of anyone who has done this successfully)?

I’ve heard of people using steam, and this may be the next step.. but I would assume then all my pieces would need to be dried again for (I don’t know ) how long before I could attempt re-assembling the whole lot?

And lastly, and almost more importantly.. How do I prevent this from happening again?

Anyone with any ideas/experience on how to go about the process of unsticking this amount of glue and making it all work a 2nd time around would be gratefully revered in our household for years to come.

I hope this is clear and understandable, I’ll try and post some pictures of the problem tomorrow.



-- Technology has done us one great service: It has retaught us the delight of performing simple and primordial tasks - chopping wood, building a fire and drawing water from a spring.

4 replies so far

View abie's profile


812 posts in 3188 days

#1 posted 02-06-2011 11:55 PM

if the glue is titebond II then you can unglue it in a microwave..

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2649 days

#2 posted 02-07-2011 12:22 AM

Or steam… Titebond II doesn’t seem to like steam all that well… TB III however is a totally different story…

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View Loren's profile (online now)


8158 posts in 3065 days

#3 posted 02-07-2011 01:22 AM

Build a steam chamber or some sort of sweat lodge. Put the wood in it
on top of some sort of support the steam can go through. Steam the
heck out of it with a couple of hotpots, a wallpaper steamer, or

The heat from the steam will melt holes in plastic, so don’t rest
your workpiece on an inverted milk crate with a steamer underneath.
I burned through a milk crate doing this. To be fair, my steam project
was successful, but I would have preferred not to wreck the crate.

I used to make conga drums and experimented a lot with steaming
methods. I also discovered that PVA glue is no match for being steamed
in an enclosed environment.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4403 posts in 3378 days

#4 posted 02-07-2011 01:49 AM

Steam is going to work, but it will rehydrate the wood which will then have to be dried all over again. Seems like the wood was not well dried to begin with. I would contact the mfg. of the glue for suggestions.


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