Softening Glue with Vinegar

      Some woodworkers report that you can soften a Titebond glue bond by using vinegar. February 18, 2011

I received a clock case that is partially built. It has been glued together already with a Titebond type glue. It is red oak with stain and varnish already applied. A problem I have is that it is not square. Can I warm this in an oven to soften the glue enough to re-square the case? Has anyone done this? If so, what temp and how long did you warm it up? Any other tips or ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor G:
As far as I know you got what you got. I don't think there is any way to soften the glue so that it will re-harden.

From contributor T:
Titebonds' site does say that you can use a heat gun blow dryer on Titebond II or steam iron Titebond original to loosen a bond but you will damage the finish. Was the case assembled out of square? Can you remove the back and replace it after you torsion the front and sides square?

From the original questioner:
It appears to have been assembled out of square. There is no back on it, but there is a dialboard glued into dados that confounds it a bit. I tried to torsion some as you suggest but it doesn’t seem to want to budge without what seems to be enough push to bust the wood. The sides and top/bottom are mortised and tenoned into place with glue as well.

From contributor W:
I've had some success in loosening Titebond by injecting vinegar in to the joints. It turns the glue rubbery after a while, and I could then force the joint apart.

From the original questioner:
Did you use straight from the bottle white vinegar? What kind of time frame am I looking at before it does its thing? Did the wood swell much and did the grain raise or finish affected?

From contributor W:
Yes, I used straight white vinegar. I think it took about 30 minutes - one hour for it to work. It did raise the grain, but it didn't damage the lacquer finish. I let it dry thoroughly before I re-glued it. I also put some baking soda on the wood after it was dry to try to neutralize any acid from the vinegar. I removed the baking soda before I re-glued it.

From contributor L:
The vinegar trick works, slowly. I've drilled very small holes and used a vet syringe to inject the vinegar into the glue line.

From the original questioner:
Thanks to everyone’s help, I have achieved success with my project. I used straight vinegar, injected into joints with a hypodermic needle and syringe. It took about 24 hours. I tried tugging and pulling during this time, finally ended up putting spreader clamps on the beast and it popped right apart. I’m not sure if the length of time was a function of the joint type (mortise and tenon) or glue used (color isn't right for aliphatic resin but somewhat acted like it was), but it did work just fine without much collateral damage.

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