My son was making a birdhouse. He asked if he could use the rubber cement (Elmer's), and I said it was okay. I didn't know he was going to use our dining room table as his workspace.

Everything appeared fine until I lifted a piece of paper the next morning and a puddle of rubber cement had fully dried in a flat, clear sheet about 5 inches in diameter with the thickness of about 4 sheets of paper.

The table: hardwood, sanded, stained, dark finish. I polish every week or two with Old English.

Is there a safe way to remove the rubber cement without hurting the table?

  • 1
    I have no idea if any of this will work, but used with extreme care, it might work. Mar 16, 2017 at 4:15

2 Answers 2


The rubber cement should just peel off the wood with gentle rubbing, provided it is dry. Using a piece of soft sticky rubber, and there are special rubber erasers specifically for picking up rubber cement, will help. Some shoes have gummy soles that are a similar material.

The use of rubbing alcohol may help remove any remaining residue but do not use it until you get most of the solid rubber off first and definitely test it on the finish somewhere not visible first. Starting with a solvent like alcohol without getting rid of the bulk of the rubber glue will leave you with a sticky mess.

fyi - This is actually a main feature of rubber cement. It is (was in this digital age) used in doing layout and paste up of text sides in photolithography. By only gluing one side, and letting it dry, the piece of paper with the type could be repositioned without problems. To make a more permanent bond, both sides were coated and then attached. The excess glue was then picked up with the above mentioned eraser

  • In addition to or instead of buying a rubber cement eraser you can also rub off some of the dried rubber cement, squeeze it together into a glob, and use that to DIY eraser pick up the rest of the dry or semi-dry adhesive. That glob will work for years, possibly forever. Mine is ~25 years old. Oct 21, 2022 at 20:52

Isopropyl alcohol. You might have to apply some moistening oil (tung, lemon) after. I have this problem when I remove labels from cigar boxes. For some reason rubber cement is the adhesive of choice in tobacco-growing nations.

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    You need to test this in an area not seen. Alcohol will dissolve shellac, which may affect the finish of the wood depending on how it was treated.
    – rebusB
    Jul 20, 2018 at 20:46

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