How to Remove Dried Wood Glue

Glue being used to attach two pieces of wood together.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-60
What You'll Need
A sponge
Large cloths
A glue solvent
Steel wool or brass wire brush

Wood glue is just as important as a hammer, nails, and screws in woodworking projects, but excess can get all over before you know it. Once the glue dries, it can spoil the way your finished or prepared piece of carpentry looks. Therefore, it is important you know how to remove dried wood glue in a safe and fast way which will not damage the surface of the wood.

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Step 1 - Locate

Most wood glues will dry clear when you use them. This can make it difficult to locate problem areas. To compensate for this, wet a sponge or large cloth, and rub it over the surface of the wood, giving it a gentle squeeze as you go. The water will darken the surface of the wood, and any areas of dry glue will show up as a clear break in the dark and damp pattern. This is also a good way to locate very small areas of dried wood glue.

Step 2 - Weaken the Glue

You need to weaken the dried glue stain by applying a glue solvent to loosen it. The solvent you use will depend on the type of wood glue which has been used. Check any directions or guidelines on the solvents' packaging for more information about what you might use or ask a store associate for advice.

Apply a small amount of solvent to the specific area, and leave it on for about an hour before you try and scrub it off. During the wait, it will leak into the glue and weaken the structure, which will make it easier to remove. Do not wait too long, however, or the solvent will leak into the wood fibers.

Step 3 - Scrub

Now for the hard work. Take a piece of steel wool or a brass wire brush and scrub the glue stain with a gentle amount of pressure. If you are too violent, you will wreck the surface of the wood beneath where the glue has set. Remember to scrub in the direction the wood grain runs to ensure all pores are free from dried glue particles. Once you have scrubbed as much as you can, take a large dry cloth and rub down the area you have been working on.

Step 4 - Sand

Take a large piece of general use sandpaper and go over the area where the dried glue was. Be gentle because you will be sanding the top surface of the wood. If your piece is a result of a home carpentry project, use the same sandpaper you used to previously work on the wood if you still have it. All remains of the dried glue should be gone at this point, and the area will be prepared for any future decoration such as a small paint layer.

Step 5 - Clean

Finish the process by using a damp cloth to clean the surface of the wood, including the area you have just worked on. This will rid the wood of any dirt, dust, and debris which may have accumulated as a result of scrubbing and sanding. Cleaning is essential in making sure your handy work looks professional.

Afterward, you can move on to adding any stain or finishes to your project piece without worrying about problems with dried glue.

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