Things You'll Need
Flexible putty knife
Wood glue can be the carpenter's best friend. When placed in the right joints it can hold a piece of furniture together for a century or more. On the face of a wooden cabinet, however, it bodes potential disaster. If the wood is unfinished, the glue could potentially mar the cabinets stain for life. Glue on a finished piece is unsightly and can cause damage to the finish if not dealt with carefully. Here are a few ideas on how to safely remove most types of wood glue from wood surfaces.
Wipe immediately with a damp rag to remove wet wood glue. It's a good idea to keeping a damp rag handy during any process requiring glue. Be sure to wipe the entire area carefully to remove any unseen glue. Glue will seal the surface and repel stain and finish, leaving a light spot on the wood.
Be sure to re-sand any surface that has been dampened. Wait until the wood is completely dry, and sand carefully to brush down any open grain. Use a fine grit paper 150 or higher. If the glue was on veneer, sand lightly to avoid burning.
Scrape excess dry glue with a thin flexible putty knife or plastic scraper. This will frequently loosen and remove dry wood glue on the surface. A wood chisel can be used carefully on especially stubborn spots on solid hardwoods only; veneers are too soft and thin for scraping with a chisel. Wipe with acetone-(polish remover) to remove dried glue in the grain and re-sand as for wet glue.
Wipe wet glue with a damp rag. Follow up with wood polish to remove any residue. Use a thin, flexible, plastic scraper for dried glue. Metal putty knives and wood chisels are not suggested for finished surfaces. Many times glue will chip away from finished surfaces with no damage.
Apply acetone using a cotton swab for more stubborn spots, followed by scraper to remove softened glue. Avoid getting acetone on surrounding surfaces to minimize damage to the finish. A product such as Old English or another touch-up oil can be used to repair damaged spots in the finish.
Use quad 0 steel wool as an alternative for dried glue. Be careful not to rub too hard. This may remove glue without any finish damage in some cases. Follow up with wood polish.
Wear gloves when using acetone to avoid dry skin.
Not all wood glues can be removed without refinishing, notably PVA glues and antique hide glues.