How to Remove Glue from Wood

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There’s no denying the necessity and dependability of glue, whether you’re a professional or a DIY’er. It’s an essential tool during woodworking and craft projects and undoubtedly the easiest way to bond two or more materials together, shy of physically nailing, screwing, or welding them together. The strength and resilience of the substance are a must when you want the materials to stay stuck together for good, but it’s not so handy when you’re trying to get the glue off — especially from wood.

Whether it was put there on the wood by mistake or you’re hoping to restore the wood to its former unglued glory, the question of how to get the glue off the wood is a seemingly complex one. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, there are several tools and substances that can remove even the best wood glues with relative ease. Read on to find out what these substances are and how they can be used to remove glue from wood.

Successfully remove glue from wood

Believe it or not, there are several household objects within your reach that can remove glue from wood without much effort on your part at all. All it takes is one of these products and a little bit of elbow grease, and you’ll be amazed to see the adhesive start to come up from the wood as if it was good as new.

Nail polish remover

Hand holding nail polish remover bottle

First and most effective is nail polish remover. It makes sense, too: when you think about it, nail polish is more or less a glue for your fingernails. It’s essential that the nail polish remover does not contain acetone, though, because this can actually end up stripping the wood of its beautiful natural colors.

Baking soda

Container of baking soda and a spoon

Baking soda is another possible solution to remove glue from wood. After blowing a hair dryer on the glue to soften it up a bit, apply a baking soda-warm water paste and let it sit for about half an hour or so. After this, you should see it start to come up with just a sponge or cloth.


Glass bottle of vinegar

Like nail polish or baking soda, vinegar is likely something you already have in your house — this makes things much easier on you, as you won’t have to go and make a special trip. White vinegar on a cloth is a great way to dilute and loosen the glue, making it much easier to scrape or rub from the wood.

Lemon juice and salt

Several lemons on a table whole and sliced

The next possibility is a little more unconventional, but it works nonetheless: lemon juice and salt. By cutting a lemon in half, squeezing the juice on the stain, and then pouring salt over the juice, you can soften some glues and remove them much more easily. This works especially well to help remove superglue from wooden furniture.

More delicate solutions

You’ll need a much more delicate solution for more delicate surfaces, such as varnished wood. Start with a simple application of warm water with a rag to loosen the glue, then scrape gently to avoid damaging the varnish.

If that doesn’t work, you can pour some cooking oil on a cloth and rub it into the dried glue in a series of circular motions until the glue starts to come up. White spirit — or paint thinner — is another great tool, especially when removing a lot of glue from a large surface. Better yet, there’s no interaction between the paint thinner and the varnish, so you don’t have to worry about damaging the surface in the process.

How do you remove glue from wood? A step-by-step walkthrough

Now that you have a better idea of the solutions you can use to remove glue from wood, it’s important to walk you through how to use them to get the job done.

After all, you don’t want to simply pour the solution on and hope it gets the glue off — There are steps you must take and things you must do to successfully remove glue from wood.

1.) Gently scrape

Begin by gently scraping the excess glue off the surface with a credit card, a spatula, or another hard object without any sharp edges that could potentially scratch the wood.

2.) Apply heat

With the help of a hair dryer, you can soften the remaining glue on the surface and try gently scraping again. In many instances, these two steps are enough to remove glue from wood completely.

3.) Use your substance of choice

If glue still remains, run through the list of substances above for the best possible solution for your situation. Any one of these substances should work great, just as long as you’re gentle with the wood and not too vigorous with your scrubbing.


Ultimately, if you’re planning to sand the wood later or don’t care about the appearance of the wood for whatever reason, you can just use steel wool to remove the glue. With these solutions and these steps, you should hopefully be glue-free in no time.


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