Can You Undo Glue?

The success if undoing glue joints depends onthe type of glue -1998

Q. My father rebuilds cribs for a non profit organization and is looking for ways to break the glue joints so that the cribs can be refinished. Can you help?

A. The ability to break a glue joint depends entirely on the glue used to make the joint.

Generally, in most woodworking applications, PVA (polyvinyl acetates or "yellow glue") is used. Bonds made with this adhesive can be broken with heat and/or water, sometimes easily, sometimes with more difficulty.

Pieces put together with animal glue are easily taken apart with heat or moisture.

Pieces put together with other adhesives such as urea resin, resorcinol, or epoxy can not be disassembled without ruining the wood.

Jeff Pitcher is Marketing Director for Custom-Pak Adhesives in Newark, Ohio.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor K:
Acetic acid will soften the glues mentioned. It has a strong smell and will remove some finishes, so use it carefully after reading about using it safely.