Refinish Furniture

Soften old glue to remove molding.

Helen wanted information about softening old glue to make it easier to remove the molding from an old school table she was refinishing.

Not all glues will soften, but there are a few methods for softening glue to remove molding. My recommendation was to not remove the molding, but to leave it on during the restoration procedure.

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Glue softener

Helen wrote: I'm trying to remove the molding from an old school table. I believe that it's nailed and glued (although the nails are not very evident).

Do you have any product that I can use to soften the glue? Thanks, Helen


Hi Helen

Heat old glue to soften

I would try heat to soften the glue. Most glues will respond to heat and soften enough to be removed, but not all glues will respond to the same solvents and some won't respond to solvents at all.

If you have a heat gun or blow dryer use a low heat setting and warm the molding until the glue softens and try working it loose. Another method would be to use an iron for ironing clothes and with a low heat setting warm the molding and glue.

Use low heat when softening glue

Always use low heat to soften the glue, because higher heat can severely dry the wood and if it's too high can scorch the wood.

Is it necessary to remove the molding?

I'm curious as to why you want to remove the molding. If it's to make refinishing easier, it really won't. You can spend more time removing the molding than it would take to clean it where it's at and you stand a very good chance of damaging the molding by removing it.

Reference pages for furniture restoration.

Take a look at our pages restoration and restoration procedure for some tips on getting into the hard to get into places.


Reply from Helen:

Didn't remove molding

Tom, Thanks for your advice. I took it seriously, and didn't try to remove the molding. I gauged out a small amount around the interior next to the molding, feathered it into the top of the table, and glued the veneer onto the small depression. It worked very well. I'm keeping your website information. I think it will be valuable. Here's a picture of my finished product, which has sentimental value for me. You folks in the creative furniture making and restoring business are really nice people. Helen

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