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Thread: Nail polish remover

  1. #1
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    Nail polish remover

    Got a call from my son yesterday that 'someone' spilled a bottle of nail polish remover on the dining room table.

    He wants to know how best to go about repairing it. I thought I would start here. He has no tools, finishing experience or knowledge relating to woodworking or finishing. The goal is pretty much to just get the color back and get a finish on it to minimize the damage. He lives in a small apartment in the big city- I'll probably put together a package with the things he'll need and send it to him.

    Does the fact that nail polish remover did this in seconds give a clue to what the finish might be? Does it look like the stain and finish were one product? It does to me.

    Anyway, I'm looking for ideas on how to approach this.

    IMG_0717.jpg

  2. #2
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    Nail Polish Remover...the "good stuff", at least...is a pretty powerful solvent and will cut through many finishes, including lacquer, some varnishes, etc.

    This is going to be a "bear" to fix, even by a professional, in all honesty. If this is commercial furniture, it could very well be a "colored" finish. Matching it is going to take a bit of trial and error. Without completely refinishing the table, I'd probably play with dyes and shellac for a spot finish.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    I believe most nail polish is actually acetone. I have used it as a substitute and it worked.

  4. #4
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    >>>> I believe most nail polish is actually acetone.

    You are correct. Most have an oil in them also. Acetone will almost immediately dissolve and damage almost any finish. The only repair is to strip off all the existing finish and start over. It's a job for an experienced finisher. The existing finish is most likely a lacquer if it is a factory made item.
    Howie.........

  5. #5
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    The goal here is to just do a spot finish knowing it will still stick out like a sore thumb. So you can dye shellac right? Maybe I could mix a small batch of brown shellac and send him that and a small brush.

  6. #6
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    I remember a product from years gone by called "Old English" or something like that. It is a dark stain created specifically to disguise damage to dark stained old furniture. My mother used it on some serious scratches and it did help. Maybe you can look for that product or its equivalent.

  7. #7
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    I would try Transtint dyes in SealCoat shellac. It will likely take more than one dye, blended together, to get the color right. The black streaks should come through naturally as you can see them in the underlying wood, so if you (he) gets the color right it should look pretty good. It make take more than one coat of the dye/shellac to build up the color as well as bring it flush with the rest of the finish. The shellac can be applied with an artist's brush or sprayed with a detail gun if he's good. I don't think this has to end up as a sore thumb; if he is patient and has a good eye he should be able to get a very close color match. After the color is back I'd topcoat it with gloss spray lacquer shot through a piece of cardboard with a hole in it held several inches above the table top. Then some work with Abranet pads should bring the repaired area flush and to the same sheen as the rest of the top.

    Practice on the underside, if possible, to get the color and spraying technique well in hand first.

    John

  8. #8
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    It will not be easy but I'd try to repair and blend in the one spot..Experiment with shellac, tints, dyes and you may be able to blend it in..Be patient...Failing that, a complete removal of the whole top is in order followed by sanding and a general finish schedule..G'Luck.
    Jerry

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Zellers View Post
    Got a call from my son yesterday that 'someone' spilled a bottle of nail polish remover on the dining room table.

    He wants to know how best to go about repairing it. I thought I would start here. He has no tools, finishing experience or knowledge relating to woodworking or finishing. The goal is pretty much to just get the color back and get a finish on it to minimize the damage. He lives in a small apartment in the big city- I'll probably put together a package with the things he'll need and send it to him.

    Does the fact that nail polish remover did this in seconds give a clue to what the finish might be? Does it look like the stain and finish were one product? It does to me.

    Anyway, I'm looking for ideas on how to approach this.

    IMG_0717.jpg
    Good suggestions on the fix and now a question. That is an unusual shape for a spilled liquid. Any back story here?

  10. Quote Originally Posted by Jim Rimmer View Post
    Good suggestions on the fix and now a question. That is an unusual shape for a spilled liquid. Any back story here?
    Not the OP, but...I recognize that pattern of destruction ( I have two daughters that love nail polish ), that is the bottom of the remover bottle in outline, when the bottle is tilted to daub the remover on a cotton ball, some invariably runs down the side of the bottle...destruction follows.
    R

  11. #11
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    Had this happen to me with a bigger spill. Gave up trying to match color - got rid of table Friend with similar problem just found something to cover it. Outside the box thought is to find an inconspicuous place on the table from which you can cut a patch.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Russel De Arman View Post
    Not the OP, but...I recognize that pattern of destruction ( I have two daughters that love nail polish ), that is the bottom of the remover bottle in outline, when the bottle is tilted to daub the remover on a cotton ball, some invariably runs down the side of the bottle...destruction follows.
    R
    I thought there was something familiar about that shape. Thanks.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Zellers View Post
    The goal here is to just do a spot finish knowing it will still stick out like a sore thumb. So you can dye shellac right? Maybe I could mix a small batch of brown shellac and send him that and a small brush.
    I'd first feather the edges and remove the dark spot in the middle. Then get some scrap mahogany, if you have it, and do a color test to get close. If you want to make it really easy, use the all in one Minwax. If it's not a big deal that it might be obvious, this should work.

  14. #14
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    Thought I would give a follow up since I just got some pics.

    What I ended up doing was sending out a kit with some dyed shellac and some clear shellac and instructions to brush on coats of the dyed shellac until the right color was reached, then switch to the clear shellac until the finish had been built up to the same level as the existing finish.

    First the damage again:
    IMG_0717.jpg

    Then 2 pics of the repair:
    IMG_0732.jpgIMG_0733.jpg

    I very much appreciate all the responses as they helped me form a strategy that I felt would work in this case, i.e., a guy with zero finishing skills but a desire to make this boo-boo go away.

    Russel, I'm sure you nailed it but I won't be bringing that up until the next time we visit them, which won't be all that long. Anyway, they are thrilled with the fix (it was a cheap table to begin with) and I'm very happy to have this forum to bounce things like this off of to eventually gravitate toward a reasonable solution.
    Last edited by Dave Zellers; 04-12-2015 at 11:07 PM.

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