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My daughter just bought the cabinet online and it came like this. They won’t refund or replace.

Any ideas of how to get the stains off the caning of the doors? We think it’s glue.

enter image description here

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    Hi, welcome to StackEchange. Would you like the name and shame the vendor? :-)
    – Graphus
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 18:15
  • The more bad press the seller gets, the less likely they are to sell shoddy junk in the future. Either because fewer people will buy from them or they'll up their quality (at least slightly). You might also consider contacting the card issuer (if paid by credit/debit card) and complaining to them - they may deny/reverse payment on your behalf.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 16:20

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The following is based on the assumption you do decide to try cleaning this off using solvent. I'm not actually confident this is the best approach however it's your call.

Obviously not your fault, but since you can't tell us what glue this is (if it is even glue) we have to proceed on guesswork.

Assuming glue
So let's say it is glue, there is one type that is most likely — PVA, white or yellow "carpenter's glue" or "wood glue" — and the good news with that is there's tons of experience of dealing with residue of this adhesive to draw from.

If you research this online you will read that vinegar can dissolve or help to remove non-waterproof versions of PVA. I would not suggest trying that here for a couple of reasons, the first being that vinegar is mostly water and water + canework can be problematical. It's all too easy to end up with a panel that is permanently slack, or buckled in just one area and neither is a good look.

So solvents without water are I think the safest approach.

Organic solvents
The one to try first will be denatured alcohol (UK: methylated spirits). Work slowly and carefully, using Q-tips or cotton balls, and ventilate the area well if you have concerns about the solvent vapours1.

If this works the process might be quite straightforward or go surprisingly quickly! But if the alcohol has little to no effect, next try acetone which is a noticeably stronger solvent.

Acetone is very straightforward to buy if you live in the US, it'll generally be sold right alongside denatured alcohol. If you don't live in the US however you may not be able to walk into any hardware store or big-box and get it, in which case it's the main or sole ingredient in many nail-polish removers. But if you buy it in this form check the ingredients list to make sure it doesn't contain any water2; "artificial nail and tip remover" tends to be pure acetone.

Note: you will have to be very very careful not to get either solvent on the painted surfaces because there's no telling what will dissolve or partially dissolve the paint (leading to ugly marks like when polish remover is spilled on any finished surface) and that would be even harder to fix.

Since you can't be careful enough not to spill even one drop (DAMHIK!) it would be advisable to carefully mask around each opening with plenty of masking tape/painter's tape. Don't skimp on the tape, and burnish the edges down well.

Before that however....

Consider taking the doors off before you begin
This is not vital, but working on the doors flat offers advantages, including:

  • you can more easily back up the canework to prevent it buckling from pressure;
  • much easier to avoid any solvent drips getting to the paintwork.

Should be obvious but makes sure whatever you back the canework with doesn't care about solvents, which you might arrange by e.g. wrapping it in aluminium foil.

Take care loosening any screws, especially if they have Phillips heads.

You'll want to bag the screws up or put them into a magnetic tray or something, whatever you need to do so that you don't lose track of one of them 3.

Take even more care putting the screws back in! You don't want to cross-thread, or over-tighten (especially if the sides are particleboard/chipboard or MDF). While it is possible to successfully repair damaged screw holes prevention is definitely better than cure.


1 Arrange airflow so it goes past the person doing the work, over the workpiece and then out an open door or window.

2 Which might be listed as "aqua" these days...... because they don't want us to know we're buying water?

3 All too easy if life gets in the way and this turns out not to be a one-afternoon job. Again DAMHIK :-)

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Any ideas of how to get the stains off the caning of the doors?

I don't think we can answer that with any confidence without at least knowing more about the stain. If it's glue, what kind of glue is it? Is the stain just a discoloration caused by the glue itself, or is there dirt or other material stuck to the glue?

The best way to proceed will depend on how much you value the cabinet. If it wasn't very expensive and you're willing to take some risks, you could try cleaning it yourself starting with the gentlest options you can think of (maybe a bit of distilled water and a cotton swab) in an inconspicuous area, and working your way up from there. On the other hand, if your daughter paid a lot for the cabinet, or just wants to be very careful with it, it might be best to take it to a professional furniture restorer. A pro will be able to look at the damage up close and suggest options appropriate for the piece.

One option, other than cleaning, might be to replace the caning entirely. It's not hard to find "cane webbing" for sale online, typically from chair restoration suppliers. Cane webbing comes in sheets that can be cut to size. You'll have to look at the doors of the cabinet to see how it's secured -- it looks like the spline that surrounds each panel might be pressed into a groove to secure the webbing.

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