I have a two person desk that was made years ago from 16mm wood, PG bison boards. The top is a 32mm top.

It is attached to the legs and mid-section with biscuits where wood glue was applied and the biscuits were inserted into slots cut by a router. That's the way my carpenter did it.

I am currently getting a new desk stand, and would like to use the current top I have. Is there a way to separate the top from the legs? Or should aim on the wood glue first to "loosen" the joint somehow and pry it apart?

I have not tried anything as yet, trying to weigh my options at the moment.

Any help and guidance is greatly appreciated.

2 Answers 2


If it were me, I'd just use a nice trim saw to cut through the joint to separate the top from the legs. You're getting rid of the legs anyway, so what difference does it make if you cut a mm or two off of them.

Alternatively, if you don't want to use (or don't have) a flush cutting saw, cut through the legs really close to the bottom of the desktop, then sand what's left of the legs off the underside of the top.

  • I wish I'd thought of a flush-cut saw *doh* Sawing through that length of glue line sure wouldn't be any fun, and not fast, but the potential for damage is way lower.
    – Graphus
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 14:10
  • I'm doing good when I can catch @Graphus in a Homer Simpson "d'oh!" moment! pats self on back. injures elbow. D'oh!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 14:28
  • LOL. You actually made me go *doh* twice in a week or so, so sending virtual pat on back to save other elbow.
    – Graphus
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 14:47

Not being familiar with PG Bison I had to Google it and it appears to be melamine-faced board or one kind or another:

MelaWood® is PG Bison's leading brand of decorative melamine faced board (MFB)....
MelaWood® uses either BisonBord® or SupaWood® as a core....


There's a chance the hold of the glue to the edges of the legs is fairly weak (because glues don't bond well to melamine) in which case all you really have to overcome is the glue hold between the biscuits and the core material, BisonBord being chipboard/particleboard and SupaWood being MDF.

To be honest the glue hold on biscuits even in solid wood is rather famously not great! It will typically be much weaker in either chipboard or MDF because they're friable materials and tend to over-absorb glue.

Quite apart from this you'll be doing any investigatory prying/levering on what is now and what will again be the underside of the desktop, so I don't think you're risking much if the separation isn't quite as neat as you'd like. Any ugliness that results will never be visible unless someone crawls under the desk and looks up.

But if it looks like it is putting up a lot of resistance it would not hurt to heat the joint line very well using a hairdryer, or more cautiously with a heat gun. The glues most likely to have been used here are both softened by heat.

  • Thanks for the detailed answer. Just one small sub-question. Since this is veneered wood. Would acetone not harm the finish on it. Sure I am not too worried about the bottom of the top. But I would like to somewhat keep the legs for a othe project in the future. I have the top a tug today and couldn't definitely tell there space for either Acetone, hot water or even vinegar to get into the joint to separate. Hopefully I don't have to resort to heat. Commented May 31, 2022 at 19:42
  • I would not try hot water or vinegar! Normal MDF and particleboard both expand when wet.
    – Volfram K
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 5:19
  • 1
    "Hopefully I don't have to resort to heat." Why would you not want to 'resort' to heat? The idea is that heating won't do any damage, just soften the glue to make separation easier. "space for either Acetone, hot water or even vinegar" Acetone is certainly worth a try if you like, if the glue used was PVA it will help soften in (but no effect on other glues). Vinegar is only for protein glue (hide glue) and as @VolframK mentions you wouldn't want to use it or hot water because of the large chance you'll swell the board substrate which could render all parts unusable.
    – Graphus
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 14:17
  • In terms of testing the glue line strength by tugging, in case this hadn't occurred to you doing it upside down is probably the best idea. Flip to desk over (on to clean carpet, or thick towels), stand on the underside of the top (which will provide complete resistance to the desk itself lifting since you can't lift yourself) and then try to pull the legs out. Although this might be doable solo this could work better if you can get a second person to help you.
    – Graphus
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 14:23

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