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Removing felt lining from wooden boxes......not animal hide glue.

Probably used a modern glue.

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Brian John03/08/2019 10:08:01
1456 forum posts
579 photos

If the box were antique then the felt would probably be glued to the inside of the boxes and drawers with animal (hide) glue. This can be removed with hot water. But if somebody has used a modern glue then what is the best way to remove it ? I want to leave the bare timber exposed if I can get it clean enough.

I would try the hot water first to see how it went.

Circlip03/08/2019 10:32:45
1218 forum posts

Chances are a modern glue would submit to acetone (contact adhesive) and a scraper.

Regards Ian.

roy entwistle03/08/2019 10:35:23
1300 forum posts

Try apple vinegar or ordinary white vinegar


Edited By roy entwistle on 03/08/2019 10:36:18

Bazyle03/08/2019 10:42:04
5697 forum posts
208 photos

Beware using a solvent other than water as it will carry the glue into the pores of the wood and stain it.

Nigel Graham 203/08/2019 11:03:56
913 forum posts
16 photos

It will depend on the class of the adhesive, and may be worth experimenting with some scrap materials before risking damaging the box and felt.

PVA might respond to hot water - the question with water or any water-based solvent is what it might do to the woodwork, which is unlikely to be protected under the felt.

An impact adhesive like Evo-stick, or a rubber-based one, might dissolve in meths, isopropyl alcohol or white spirit, though I've not tried these. There are some solvents made for removing adhesive labels safely - I do not know if they will touch cured impact-adhesive, but again, might be worth a try.


At work I used to use a very effective but remarkably safe, citrus-oil based, solvent intended primarily intended for cleaning electrical equipment. I'm sorry, I forget its name but I am fairly sure it was an Ambersil product, made for cleaning electrical equipment. The present Ambersil site lists what seems the nearest equivalent, Ambersolv SB1. The soiling it claims to remove include include rubber-based adhesives.

I don't know if Ambersil sell directly. Possibly not, especially to single-use buyers, but the material ought be available through a tools or automotive factor. The solvent we bought came in 5l bottles via RadioSpares I think, but Ambersil seems now to list only aerosol cans, and if it works, like all the solvents, you might need a fair bit thanks to the shielding given by the felt.


Synthetic resins are well-nigh insoluble. I have encountered professionally one or two nasty solvents that do attack them, but very slowly. However you'd probably find them very hard to obtain, they might not reach the adhesive without evaporating from the felt, and they could do as much damage to the wood and felt as to the glue. And to you if don't handle them with the care they demand.

Whatever you try, could end up doing more harm than good, unfortunately, hence my suggestion that you use test-pieces first, from scrap materials.

May be worth contacting a professional furniture-restorer for advice.


Personally, faced with the same problem, I'd revise why I want to expose the wood, unless the felt is so badly damaged and filthy it is neither use nor ornament. (In which case perhaps to renew it, especially if restoring an antique.) After all, it was put there for a purpose!

Brian John03/08/2019 13:40:25
1456 forum posts
579 photos

What ever I use will probably damage the timber so it is not worth trying. I wanted to see bare timber ; I always thought the felt linings looked very tacky...even when new. The boxes are not valuable antiques

Nigel Graham 203/08/2019 14:56:11
913 forum posts
16 photos

That last comment suggests the lining was added at some stage later.

Could be your only alternative is by scraping but that does risk scarring the wood, especially if areas of the adhesive bond are stronger than the wood's own grain strength.

Bill Phinn03/08/2019 14:58:39
406 forum posts
73 photos

Brian, I am used to having to remove adhesives from the spines of books prior to re-binding. A common glue encountered in modern books is hot-melt glue. I remove this with a hairdryer.

I have noticed a fairly recent shift in the glues commonly used to stick labels on jars. In the past these glues were usually water-soluble, and, if not, they could nearly always be removed with lighter fuel. Now these glues often do not shift with water or lighter fuel or even solvents such as thinners, but they do remove very easily with white spirit.

I'm confident you will find a solution, even if you have to make a mess of one or two boxes in the process.

Brian John04/08/2019 01:45:40
1456 forum posts
579 photos

A hairdryer first then white spirits if that does not work. The hairdryer would probably work as well as hot water if it was hide glue.

White sprits in the UK = mineral turpentine in Australia : is that correct ?

Edited By Brian John on 04/08/2019 01:47:35

CHARLES lipscombe04/08/2019 05:15:15
119 forum posts
8 photos


No not correct. White spirit is wholly aliphatic but Mineral Turps is about 40% aromatic e.g. Xylene. For many products Mineral Turps is a much better solvent than White Spirit.

Shell used to market a solvent called X32 in Australia which is very close to white spirit. You might be able to buy true white spirit retail e.g from Bunnings.


IanT04/08/2019 09:48:23
1749 forum posts
164 photos

Timely post for me - I've recently purchased a nicely made, polished (& lined) box for re-use in the workshop.

I've had to remove the original internal wooden partions and the green felt liner as part of this conversion. The felt ripped out quite easily but has left a green 'fuzz' behind (on top of a hard glue base) that I've tried sanding but it's not easy to access. I've consdidered making a thin cosmetic backplate for the drawer bottoms but will try to clean up and re-treat the inside edges..

Not sure of its age, not antique but not recent either - very much better than I can make quickly from scratch though. Will (gently) try the hot air gun and scrapper approach first I think... thanks.


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