Releasing Old Glue Joints

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Forum topic by TheWoodenOyster posted 02-03-2018 08:04 PM 388 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1313 posts in 1844 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

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1721 posts in 2768 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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9981 posts in 3557 days

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

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11145 posts in 2289 days

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

The enemy of glue is heat.


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Richard Lee

93 posts in 684 days

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

The enemy of glue is heat.

- Rick_M

Or Kids.

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1730 posts in 1296 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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11145 posts in 2289 days

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

Or Kids.

- Richard Lee



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2295 posts in 498 days

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

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

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

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27 posts in 1343 days

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

Heat gun.

Check out Thomas Johnson antique restoration on YouTube

View Tennessee's profile


2755 posts in 2423 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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1313 posts in 1844 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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