Have you ever wanted to restyle an antique china cabinet and wondered how to remove the glass before painting it?
I’ve restyled a good few of these older cabinets dating back to the 1920’s. I looove working on them because they have great lines and detail.
Although the bones of these old girls are usually solid and sturdy, the glass is often broken/cracked… or there’s fretwork (the scrolly wood detail behind the glass) that needs removing.
It’s hard to tell from the pic below, but this 1930’s china cabinet I’m working on has a horizontal split across the center of glass… perfect opportunity to show you how to remove it!
The biggest fear most people have when removing old glass is breaking it!
I was so nervous about breaking the glass and fretwork on my first china cabinet that I couldn’t muster up the courage to do it! I asked M-M-M to get in there and do it for me.
Don’t let the fear stop YOU from trying. Now that I’ve done a few of these, it’s really NO BIG DEAL!
If you use a gentle hand and take your time, everything will pry away nicely.
To remove the glass, you will need:
:: A small flat edge screwdriver…or any small/sturdy flat edge tool.
:: Needle nose pliers.
On most of these antique china cabinets, you’ll find four (4) pieces of wood trim mimicking a frame.
This wood trim is perfectly fitted inside the main door frame and then secured and held in place with finishing nails. This is what holds the glass and/or fretwork in place.
On this china cabinet, part of the trim is broken off …and NO – this wasn’t my handy work this time. 😉
I want to show you the pic below because it’s great view of how the glass rests on the main frame while the wood trim holds the glass in place.
How To Remove Glass from Antique China Cabinet:
Start by using your flat edge screwdriver and gently pry the flat edge under a piece of trim. Once it’s under, carefully lift the trim away from the main frame.
Once you’ve created a gap between the main frame and the trim (and the nails are visible) you can switch to your needle nose pliers to complete the job.
Here I’m using the needle nose pliers to remove the nails. They pull out really easy once the trim has been loosened.
If you can’t grab the head of the nail from the top, no problem.
Use the needle nose pliers to go in underneath the trim and pull the nail out of the main frame while leaving the nail in the trim…no biggie. I always end up doing both.
Then I use the same pieces of trim for the new installed glass (I like to paint them to match the clean new look of the restyled cabinet!) and often if placed just right, I line up the nails into the original holes and then add a few new finishing nails for extra hold.
Once all the trim is removed, you can carefully remove the glass!
Have you ever removed or replaced glass on furniture? Do you have any tips you’d like to add? I love all your comments, questions and suggestions so don’t be shy…chime in!
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