How to Remove Glue From Wood (Sideboard Makeover)

Have you ever tried a home improvement project and knew right away that you didn’t really like it? This was the case with the sideboard makeover I did a while back. Only in order to correct this one, I had to figure out how to remove glue from wood.

I had found this old sideboard at an antique shop for only $50. Once I got it home, I wasn’t crazy about the color of the wood. So I decided to go farmhouse crazy on it and make it look like sliding barn doors. My husband cut the cross pieces for me and we glued them onto the doors. Then I painted and distressed the whole vintage sideboard.

I took an original piece of furniture and made it look exactly like what every furniture store was selling at the time. ๐Ÿ™

I tried to live with it for a while, but the longer I did the less I liked it. Finally, I decided I would have to try and undo it and risk potentially ruining it in the process.

How To Remove Glue From Wood

Using my Furno 500 heat gun, I began applying heat to the front of the diagonal pieces and gently prying behind them to help loosen it up.

The tool I used at first for prying with was a spackle knife, but I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t strong enough. Then I remembered I had a few metal letter openers so I tried those. They ended up being perfect for the job.

Just call me MacGyver. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Once I got the wood overlays off, there was some residue underneath. I removed that with the heat gun and a 5-in 1 scraper tool.

While this did require a good amount of elbow grease (my arms were sore the next day) it actually worked! The trick was to go slow and really loosen it up all the way from end to end before pulling it off.

how to restore furniture by removing the existing paint and any wood glue you may find

At this point, the easiest route would’ve been to repaint it all and call it a day. But I really wanted to remove the paint and see the wood underneath again before deciding.

How To Remove Paint From Wood Furniture

You may remember last summer I removed paint from this vintage dresser using a chemical treatment. It didn’t occur to me to try the heat gun on that. While both are lengthy processes, I do think the heat gun was a little quicker. And it was much better not breathing in the chemical fumes.

To remove the paint, I again used the heat gun and the 5-in 1 tool for scraping. The first layer peeled off so easily it was like a dream. Unfortunately, I painted this piece with multiple layers. The bottom layers required a little more elbow grease. Once I got off as much as I could with the heat gun, I lightly sanded the rest.

how to remove wood glue and paint the easy way

Here’s the good part.

What I ended up with was a cerused, or pickled look! The white paint settled into the grooves of the wood and gave me this look that I love. I’ve tried to get this look on furniture before but it never came out this good. So this was a happy accident.

cerused pickled wood

Even the wood tone was lighter than the darker original color. Much better.

But there was one more problem.

Where the diagonal pieces had been, you could see the original wood color and it obviously didn’t match the rest.

how to remove glue from wood furniture without damaging it

I wasn’t about to give up at this point.

Using Cerusing Wax

I found my bottle of Cerusing wax and applied it in those areas. I let it sit for about 20 minutes and wiped it off. It helped, but not enough. So I added more and waited a few hours. Then I lightly sanded it off and blended it the best that I could.

Things were looking a lot better after that step. I painted the top white mostly because this was pretty time consuming and I didn’t feel like removing the paint from there. That may change later on.

sideboard makeover pickled wood looks with white top

I think I still need to do a bit more blending but overall I’m really happy with how this sideboard finally turned out. It’s not perfect but perfectly imperfect is fine with me.

Now that the wood is lightened up it goes better with the map prints above it. I’ve considering changing those up but haven’t found anything large scale that I like enough to put there yet.

light wood sideboard with white top and whitewashed finish

Do you have any tips on how to remove glue from wood? I’d love to hear them!

This post was in partnership with Wagner Spray Tech and may contain affiliate links. All opinions are 100% my own, you can read my full disclosure here.


  1. Valarie Sanford says:

    can i come live next door to you? love everything you do ha!

    1. Lol, thanks Valarie!

  2. What a great look! After all that work I’m wondering why you don’t take a palm sander to the top? That’s the easy part for me. I loathe stripping but don’t mind sanding paint off. I’ll try my heat gun again, I’ve had mixed results with it but after reading this, I’m looking forward to giving it another try. I really like the end result of your sideboard!!

    1. Thank you, Crystal. The heat gun is great – no toxic fumes. Good luck with your next project!

  3. Roxxane, do you think I could achieve this look on red oak kitchen cabinets? I’m soooooooo wanting and researching how to get this look on my old res oak kitchen cabinets

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