I have an older 3 drawer cabinet that has a split part way through the top at
the glue line. What is the best way to release the rest of that joint so I can
clean it out and reglue it. I suspect it was done with hide glue. Most of the
rest of the joints in the piece will need to be reglued because they are dried
out, and have came apart.
One of the advantages of hide glue is that it can be "unglued". A piece of
cloth and a warm electric iron should do the trick. You will probably have
to start at a corner and unglue one section at a time. Wetting the cloth so
that it is damp will help to keep from getting the veneer and glue too hot.
Overheated hide glue smells like....well, you will never forget it. For the
sake of your marraige, I recommend buying an iron at a garage sale rather
than using THE IRON. Start with low heat and increase until the glue
Short of the various methods of dissolving the glue, which others have
suggested, on table tops and similar wide solid wood parts (chair seats,
etc) it is often easier to rip to the affected glue line on a table saw,
jointing if necessary, then re-glue.
If the piece lends itself to this method, it is generally a much faster,
less visible, and stronger repair in the long run.
If you really need to unglue it as opposed to ripping, try some alcohol,
assuming it is hide glue. You want the dry or anhydrous alcohol, not
rubbing alcohol which has about 30% water. The alcohol will denature the
proteins that comprise hide glue making them crystallize. The joint will
just let go. You may have to tap it. The residual glue will not be a
sticky goo but rather a solid hard mass. Vinegar can remove the mass along
with a stiff brush.
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