How to remove wooden decals from antique furniture ?

by Kbodaustin
Restoring a vintage radio cabinet from 1929. The previous owner(s) glued on cheap wooden decals to cover the knob holes. The two small decals are purely "decorative", the larger one is hiding where the knobs need to go. I've read about using white vinegar or Goo Gone butt am afraid of damaging the old wood underneath. I'm using Tung oil to refinish. Suggestions? Thank you.
  8 answers
  • Gk Gk on Aug 07, 2018

    If these were glued on I can imagine they would be quite difficult to get off without damaging the surface underneath. I think I would leave them.

  • Thelma Thelma on Aug 07, 2018

    Hi Kbo6443969, Try putting some unused cooking oil on the decals, let it soak in for an hour or so and then see if the decals can be slowly peeled up & off. The oil should not harm the wood but should make the glue release. Hope it works for you.

  • Deb Polson Deb Polson on Aug 07, 2018

    Go to, do a search for "How to removed glue from wood." Several answers are listed.

  • Geeswonderland Geeswonderland on Aug 08, 2018

    The glue itself already done damage, Is there space between the furniture and decoration to pry it off? Try a pick of some sort to make a space then pry off? I doubt goo gone will ruin your redo just make sure to clean up well after it's oily and will show up with tung oil!! Good luck!!

  • Kbodaustin Kbodaustin on Aug 09, 2018

    A combination did the trick. Mayonnaise, direct heat from a blow dryer, and some gentle prying around the edges. They popped off damage free. Thanks, all!

  • Larry shriver Larry shriver on Aug 09, 2018

    Keep putting warm vinegar in small amounts on top where the two pieces meet.. Eventually, with a bit of luck, the vinegar will soften the glue enough for the piece to be removed.

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Aug 10, 2018

    Thin butter knife or something firm plastic so not to scratch get behind it and pop it

  • Janice Janice on Nov 18, 2023

    I was going to suggest that you heat the glued-on wood additions using either a heat gun or blow dryer and then prying off. Glad that worked for you. As others have said the damage to the original piece has already been done to the piece.