How to Remove Wooden Dowels [With 5 Simple Methods]

Wooden dowels are incredibly practical and almost every piece of furniture is held together by them. But who hasn’t had the problem that a wooden dowel has broken off and is stuck in the hole in which an intact wooden dowel should find its place? There are a few clever tricks you can use to get out of this dilemma and I will show you step by step how you can remove broken wooden dowels.

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Of course, glued wooden dowels are more difficult to remove than wooden dowels that have only been inserted. If you have used wood glue, it will make the job easier to loosen it beforehand.

The list of tools required for removing the dowels depends on the material from which it is made and also which of the presented methods you want to try. 

To remove wooden dowels you may need:

  • Self-tapping screw or Corkscrew;
  • Chisel;
  • Hammer;
  • Pliers;
  • Nail puller;
  • Knife or awl;
  • Heat gun;
  • Electric drill.
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Always wear safety glasses when working with wood.

How to Remove Wooden Dowels with a Corkscrew

Remove Wooden Dowels with a Corkscrew

The easiest way is to remove broken wooden dowels using pliers. The problem with broken dowels, however, is all too often that there isn’t enough remaining dowel to be able to grip it securely with pliers. There are other ways to remove the wooden dowel.

There are many corkscrews out there and depending on which one you own, the approaches to removing broken wooden dowels differ. We will briefly explain the two methods of removing wooden dowels to you with a classic T-shaped corkscrew and a winged corkscrew.

Want to know more about wood dowel and the uses of each type? This complete article will show you everything you need to know about wood dowels!

The Classic Corkscrew

Of course, you can try just twisting the corkscrew into the dowel and pulling it out with sheer force. Most of the time it won’t work because the dowel is quite stuck. With a few nuts, the problem gets a very simple solution, with which you rely on permanent power pull instead of pure power. 

So take a few nuts that have a larger inside diameter than the wooden dowel you want to remove and stack them over the dowel. 

Now the corkscrew is used. Screw it in further and further, after it has hit the tube made of nuts, it will pull the wooden dowel out of the hole by further turning. 

Of course, if you have a suitable metal tube on hand, you can use it instead of tinkering with nuts.

The Wing Corkscrew

It’s really easy with the wing corkscrew! It has a frame that otherwise closes around the neck of the bottle. In our case, this serves as the support surface for the broken wooden dowel in the piece of furniture (or workpiece). 

So just do the same thing as opening a bottle of wine. Simply twist in and move the corkscrew’s wings down. So the dowel should slide out quickly.

See here exactly how you can cut a notch in wood using just a few tools and easy methods!

Method 1: How to Remove Wooden Dowels using Chemical Solution

Wood connections with wooden dowels usually hold extremely well without glue. For better stability and reassurance for the DIY enthusiast, they are often glued together. If you have broken a glued wooden dowel, you must first loosen it. In the vast majority of cases, the wooden dowel was glued with water-soluble glue.

 So first try a few drops of water around the dowel. This should be absorbed by the water-soluble glue and the water should dissolve the glue. If this does not work, or if you are afraid of the piece of furniture or workpiece in which the dowel sits, then use alcohol.

Of course, we don’t mean that you should give up and dedicate yourself to the evening, but instead take pure alcohol. With this you can try to reduce the adhesive force of the glue. 

The same applies here: less is more and approach the matter with caution. You can dab a little of the alcohol around the wooden dowel. However, this is not as effective as injecting and can damage the paintwork if a good part is painted.

You will achieve greater success if you inject the alcohol between the wooden dowels and the wood using a disposable syringe and cannula. Find a small gap between the piece of wood and the dowel (there is usually one) and inject the alcohol into it. 

Be patient and give the alcohol and wooden dowels enough time and then try to remove the wooden dowel later. Incidentally, you can easily get the disposable syringe and cannula from the pharmacy.

Want to see how to remove dried glue from your furniture? This article will give you the complete guide!

Method 2: How to Remove Broken Wooden Dowels with Heat

Hot air doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you do not want to resort to chemicals, you can also loosen the broken wooden dowel with the help of a hot air blower. Some of the non-water-soluble glues decompose at temperatures above 70 degrees. 

Place the hot air gun close, but not too close, to the broken wooden dowel and loosen it within a few minutes. An ordinary hair dryer will do the same.

Now, if your broken wooden dowels are stuck in wood glue joints, you have taken the first step in removing them. It then continues on the mechanical route, if the dowels don’t fall out or offer a small contact surface for a pair of pliers.

Having trouble removing gorilla glue from wood? Then you’ve come to the right place. Here is an easy step by step guide to remove gorilla glue from wood!

Method 3: How to Remove Wooden Dowels with a Screw

First steps begins with sawing off the dowel. Then drill a hole in the cut surface that is one millimeter smaller than a screw that matches the size of the dowel.

 It is important that the screwing in does not also spread the dowel. Now you can grab the screw and pull out the dowel with it. 

You can also try the other method of not cutting off the dowel on the outside. 

A small auxiliary board is used for this purpose, which is first drilled one and a half centimeters away from the end-grain wood, precisely with the dowel thickness. Then use the hand saw to make a fine saw slot from the end grain into the middle of the drill hole. 

Now place the wood with the drill hole on the dowel and close the gap with pliers or a clamp. Clasped like this, the stubborn connector should rotate back and forth until it comes out.

Here is a beginner’s guide how you can fill a hole in wood. You will see the best methods and techniques!

Method 4: How to Remove Wooden Dowels using a Chisel and A Hammer

Another popular way to remove wooden dowel is to break it open and pull it out piece by piece. Using a chisel and a hammer, divide the wooden dowel along the grain into several parts, and then remove the fragments with a knife or screwdriver.

You can also try drilling a chopik with a drill. However, if the chopik was made of hard wood, this process will take a lot of time. Instead of a drill, you can use a hammer drill if you have one. However, do not overdo it, otherwise you will get holes in the wall much larger in diameter than you would like.

Do you have doors that are warped? I have written this tutorial to help you fix a warped door in 5 minutes!

Method 5: Remove Broken Wooden Dowels using a Drill

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Drilling dowels are the best solution for removing broken wooden dowels. Most furniture dowels are 1/2-in. Start with a 1/2 in. drill bit.

Have you tried everything and it doesn’t work? Or are your wooden dowels too small to remove with the corkscrew trick? Then only our last method will help, with which you can still remove the wooden dowel out of the hole. 

The broken wooden dowel must be drilled out! Sounds like a real man’s method, but needs some preparation before drilling. Since the surface is not smooth on a broken dowel, you could quickly slip off when drilling. 

 However, there is a problem with broken dowels: the break point is rarely smooth. There would therefore be a risk that the drill could slip off or that it would not be properly anchored when it was inserted.

It is therefore advisable to saw off protruding parts before drilling. If possible, use a handsaw without a back. These have the advantage that you can saw parallel along the edge of the component.

So you should first saw off the remains of the wooden dowel. This is best done with a small handsaw without a back. This does not bend inwards when sawing. Then it is best to remove the last remains with a wooden plane. 

When sawing with a back, it can happen that you saw into the component because the direction of the cut through the back is slightly inward.

Remnants of wooden dowels that are still sticking out can be removed with a wooden plane . If the edge of the component allows, you can also use sandpaper.

Only now do we come to drilling. The drill bit may not be as big as the wooden dowel you want to remove. Better still, a millimeter smaller. So there is no risk of the piece of furniture being damaged in any way. 

And then it starts! Simply drill a hole exactly where the broken wooden dowel sits. Once this is done, you can simply insert a new dowel. Incidentally, a drill bit is best for this, but with a little skill and a steady hand, a normal drill will do this job.

Adrian Tapu

Adrian is a seasoned woodworking with over 15 years of experience. He helps both beginners and professionals expand their skills in areas like furniture making, cabinetry, wood joints, tools and techniques. Through his popular blog, Adrian shares woodworking tips, tutorials and plans related to topics such as wood identification, hand tools, power tools and finishing.

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