Need to break glue joint

bus_driverAugust 22, 2005

This will be a little long so that you will know "where I'm coming from". Man who is brother of (deceased) wife of my late uncle was getting ready to go to nursing home, cleaning out his house. Gave me a table and told me it once belonged to my Grandmother. Top about 22" square, quarter sawn oak glued up from 3 pieces. 4 round turned legs with claw and ball lower ends. Table a bit over 36" high. Middle shelf of 2 pieces of QS oak with glue joint in center of shelf width. Shelf and legs held by pocket screws from the bottom of the shelf in each corner. Obviously refinished (by him) and beautiful except for one problem. The shelf joint is a modified tongue and groove and must have been reglued as some squeeze-out shows through the finish. The edges of the two pieces slipped laterally about 1/4" while in the clamp- uneven at the edges at the joint. Obviously I cannot saw it as the kerf would reduce the width of the shelf. I need to cause the glue joint to fail. It is almost certain that he used just a white glue. I know that those fail under continuous large loads, heat, and humidity. I do not wish to damage the wood. Perhaps he failed to remove the old hide glue completely before regluing- which might be a help in breaking this joint. But pressure to break it will have to be applied so that the pieces will slip laterally against each other. Any other forces might break the tongue. How much heat/humidity can be applied without damaging the appearance of the wood? The finish can be redone if necessary. Your suggestions?

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Everything here will depend on the glue that was used. Something you might try. If the top is only 22", the shelf is probably less. Wet it throughly,(soak) and then put it the oven at a low temp (100 to 175 degrees) and check it every now then using a jig and clamps to try to pull each piece back on plane. The tongue and groove joint will be hard to separate. If plain white glue was used, it will soften up some, but the yellow wood glues (while not considered water proof) are not so accomodating. This might work.
If you've got access to a wood shop you may want to just saw it apart and install a piece to fill the space left by the saw kerf, then refinish. No danger of water damage or warpage this way. I think that would be my choice.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 9:37AM
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It stimulates creativity to bounce around ideas and to see them in writing. The suggestion to saw apart may well be the only real solution, but I am reserving it as the last resort. The lower shelf is not exactly rectangular, it is sawed with curves in the outside shape. The top is rectangular. The curves will complicate repairs, especially adding a narrow strip. One way of implementing Wayne's suggestion might be to saw the shelf after carefully measuring and recording the measurements. Then glue a wider piece to one of the shelf halves, then rip that (now too wide) half to the final desired width by sawing off the proper amount of the added piece. That would necessitate two gluing operations to restore the shelf. I might even use biscuits both times to help with alignment. Any other ideas?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 1:15PM
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Before you saw it, make a cardboard pattern of it. (You could shift the piece into alignment as you were drawing to compensate for the misalignment and make the pattern true)Then saw out a defined amount, add the new piece, glue it back in and use the pattern to reestablish the original form.
Have you thought about making a whole new shelf from scratch?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 1:42PM
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