How to Dissolve Wood Glue

glue being piped out on wood
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-30
What You'll Need
White vinegar
Latex gloves
Warm water
Paper towels

Wood glue is a great option for making a simple joint between two pieces of wood. Since this adhesive is so simple to use, it's possible that you might rush in only to discover that the results of your project aren't as perfect as you thought once the glue dries. Thankfully, separating the attached pieces of wood and starting over isn't difficult with these techniques for breaking down and removing wood glue.

Step 1 - Preparation

On your work surface, lay down several thick layers of old newspapers with a layer of plastic underneath. Place the glued object on the newspaper. Put on a pair of latex gloves to protect your hands.

Add 2 cups of vinegar to a large bowl and dilute it so that the vinegar content is about 30-percent of the solution. Saturate your towel in the vinegar and wring it out. You want the towel to be saturated enough so that it's dripping a little, but not overly soaked with vinegar.

Step 2 - Apply Vinegar

Apply the towel onto the wood and attempt to let as much of the vinegar soaked portions to make direct contact with the glued areas as you can. Keep pressing until you know the vinegar has soaked in, then leave the towel wrapped on the wood for 15 minutes.

Unwrap the towel and try to pry the pieces of wood apart. At this stage they should give a little, and you should feel some form of loosening. If you used hardly any glue, you might even be able to separate the pieces with just this.

Step 3 - Dissolving More

In most instances, it will take at least two applications of vinegar to do the job. If not, you’ll need to keep repeating this process with the towel and vinegar solution until you’re able to pry the wood apart.

Step 4 - Removing Glue

When you’re able to part the pieces of wood, you’ll notice that the wood glue is no longer solid. It’s become semi-liquid, almost like a paste. Remove this glue from the wood first in order to work with the wood again.

Take a different, clean towel and wet it completely with warm water. Wring it out so it’s still very wet, but not soaked. Wipe it along the surface of the wood anywhere there is glue.

Eventually the glue will come off all the way down to clean wood. Like the vinegar step, you might need to use several towels to achieve this completely as you're removing both the glue and any caked on vinegar.

Step 5 - Dry

To finish, dab paper towels on the wood to soak up the moisture, then rub fresh ones on the wood to take out even more of the wetness. Give the wood ample of time to dry before you use it again.