I have 3/4" plywood which I glued to a big (2.5" x 3.5") piece of poplar. The edge of the plywood was glued to the short edge of the poplar, offset from the face of the poplar. I used Titebond II glue, and then drove in some pocket screws.

The spacer I used didn't work quite right, so I have an uneven reveal along the length of the plywood. I didn't notice until after the glue dried, of course.

How can I (easily) remove the glue joint so I can redo it? I assume the screws should back out easily enough.

Eta a picture. The plywood is 3/4" from the front of the left leg, but only 1/2" from the front of the right leg. The height of the plywood is about 35". It's a simple butt joint, no dadoes or anything fancy (my first real woodworking project :/ )


  • 2
    Not sure exactly how this is configured. A picture would help. Can you run the assembled piece through a table saw with blade flush with the poplar and start over? (remove screws first :))
    – Ashlar
    Sep 18 '16 at 18:45
  • Removing the screws and cutting along the glue joint is certainly the simplest solution.
    – keshlam
    Sep 18 '16 at 20:38
  • @Ashlar added a picture
    – mmathis
    Sep 19 '16 at 3:08
  • If you haven't done the separation yet see @aaron's tip in a Comment below my Answer.
    – Graphus
    Sep 20 '16 at 6:54

Yes your screws should back out easily.

The good news about the glue joint is that the edges of plywood often doesn't glue very well so the board may not be bonded to the poplar particularly strongly.

To break the glue line, if you have the right type of clamps you can reverse the heads and use them as spreaders. If not you can simply knock them off using a block of wood (softwood ideally) and a hammer or mallet. If using a hammer work in from the ends.

With a bit of luck the joint will just pop open and you won't tear any face grain off the poplar or out of the edge of the plywood but that is a possibility, depending on how well the surfaces were prepped ahead of time and how strongly they were pressed together while the glue dried (high clamping pressure gives much stronger glue joints with most woodworking glues).

Even if you don't rip off any face grain from the poplar the inside face will need to be cleaned up thoroughly before you glue again. A light skim with a hand plane, scraping or thorough sanding will all do what's needed.

Just a bit of sanding may be all that's needed on the edge of the plywood.

Note: you'll need to drill fresh holes for the pocket screws on the right leg so you'll need to move their positions slightly to one side of the existing ones.

Kudos for re-doing this by the way, many people would have just left it!

For a future project, a rabbet (UK: rebate) or dado (UK: housing) for the plywood edges will give you automatic registration, provided a neater and stronger join and make finishing easier.

  • I've only got pipe clamps that long, so no reverse clamping. I'll try knocking the leg off with a hammer tonight, as that would be easier than running it through my table saw. I mentioned to my wife that if I were doing this again, I'd definitely be making some dadoes in the poplar next time!
    – mmathis
    Sep 19 '16 at 16:03
  • The main reason I'm wanting to redo this joint is that I'm planning to put 3/4"-thick trim on the face of the plywood, which means the uneven-ness would be very noticeable and ugly.
    – mmathis
    Sep 19 '16 at 16:04
  • 3
    as a tip, try using a sharp blade to score the glue joint right at the plywood-poplar corner. It will help prevent any splitting right along that visible exterior portion.
    – aaron
    Sep 19 '16 at 16:19
  • 1
    @mmathis - if your pipe clamps are anything like mine, you should be able to take the clamp ends off the pipe and install them with the pads facing out to make spreaders out of them. He chimes in, potentially a week too late...
    – FreeMan
    Sep 27 '16 at 21:03
  • @FreeMan didn't think of that, for some reason! I've already redone the joint, but I'll definitely keep that in my bag of tricks for the future
    – mmathis
    Sep 27 '16 at 21:06

I wound up cutting the joint with a reciprocating saw using a blade with a lot of teeth. The blade is much thinner than even a thin-kerf table saw blade, which means I lost less material. Given that my table saw is not very big, the piece is very big, and the piece is very heavy, I just didn't feel comfortable running it over the table saw.

The cut wasn't entirely straight, but nothing a little bit of planing and sanding didn't clear up. The headboard is only ~1/16" narrower than the footboard now, which won't be noticeable, so I consider this a success

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