Removing a Decoration from a Drawer Front

      Advice on softening the adhesive or glue and on techniques for gentle prying. February 12, 2010

I'm refinishing a kitchen, and there's a wood ornament on one of the cabinet faces. It appears to be glued on. What would be the best way to remove this without causing too much damage to the cabinet door itself? I'm tempted to just pry it off with a putty knife, but I wonder if maybe using a little lacquer thinner to soak the exposed gaps for a minute or so might make it easier to remove. Any other ideas?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor K:
I use DNA for glue removal, but remember that what's left underneath will be lighter in colour.

From contributor R:
Try vinegar; acetic acid will soften most woodworking glues. Warm to hot water will work sometimes too. Be patient - it can take an hour sometimes. Stripper works sometimes. Be prepared to do some glazing right in the middle of the door... Yikes!

From contributor S:
Depends on the type of glue. White and yellow glue will respond to vinegar and stripper. Epoxy to stripper only. Hide glue to hot water. Gelled vinegar works better than free form, because it stays put. I've never used it because I make my own, but I think the product Goo Gone is a gelled vinegar.

White and yellow glues always fail over time. Especially if the ornament was glued to the coating rather than wood to wood, the piece may just pop off. So, before you break out the goos, you could try inserting a chisel into the gap and give a strong rap to the end of the handle with a hammer or mallet. Place a shim between the handle and the door so you don't mar the wood.

From contributor J:
Before attempting to melt glue, we reach for a flexible putty knife that we filed and sanded into a slow taper ending at slightly less than a razor edge and rounded the corners a bit. We then slide and rock this under the trim/veneer/applique. Not too much force. For tight areas we did the same with a modeler's spatula.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the tips! I ended up using xylene to soften the glue on the trim piece, then used a flexible putty knife to carefully pry the piece away from the cabinet face. Worked like an absolute charm! Cheers!

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing: Refinishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Furniture

  • KnowledgeBase: Furniture: Furniture Repairs

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2020 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article