Cleaning Silicone from Frames

Tips on removing silicone used to set glass in a wood cabinet door, when changing the glass. March 25, 2007

When I install glass in my cabinet doors, I usually make and tack a small molding inside the frame to hold the glass in. To me, it's a cleaner and more professional look than any clips I’ve seen. Well, on a recent job I decided to silicone them in. Doh! Long story, but it made sense at the time. You can guess what’s coming… the customer has decided she doesn’t like the glass she picked out, and wants me to change it. Ha! Of course I said it’s no problem…

So, I know I can cut/scrape the silicone out by hand. But that will be costly for the customer (good customer, no arguments about payment, I just like to save them money where I can) and I’d like to know if there exists a more efficient method. Anyone got any experience with this?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor K:
We used silicone for years... until we ran into the same problem. Our glass man used the wrong glass and tried to remove the silicone himself, which did not work. He tore the door up trying to remove it. I did some research on it and could not find any effective ways to do it. We ended up having to replace the doors at the glass man's expense. Now we use a rubber molding that we get from Woodworkers Supply. It costs more than silicone but is better for us and the customer if the glass needs to be changed or replaced.

From contributor H:
Try heating a sharpened flexible putty knife. While the knife is still hot, it will cut through the silicone easily. We have used this to remove siliconed in place backsplashes and sinks.

From contributor T:
Just got a flyer from Federal Saw - DSR5 silicone remover. Haven't tried it yet.

From the original questioner:
Thanks as always. I was wondering if some application of heat would work.

An old Turkish guy in a German body shop once told me that if you keep a few drops of dish soap on your finger when working silicone, you can run a really smooth bead, and keep adjacent areas clean. Works! Glycerin? Works on butyl rubber, too.

From contributor E:
The solvent Xylene will soften silicone, but it would probably just make a gooey mess trying to remove the amount of silicone that you have on the glass.

From the original questioner:
That DSR5 looks interesting. One of the testimonials talked about using it to soften the protective coatings on Lexan and plexi - that's a pain I don't suffer often, but suffer thoroughly when I do. I think I'm going to give that a try.

From contributor B:
Whip out the router. Pozi makes a tool for removing window glazing - may do the trick.