Coloring wood with Nail Polish

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Forum topic by nerdkraft posted 12-10-2015 08:41 PM 1017 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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57 posts in 3013 days

12-10-2015 08:41 PM

Problem: I wanted to have a bright red line in walnut and didn’t want to bother with having to do an inlay or work with paint to get a bright color with dark wood using a primer, paint and sealer.

Solution: Nail polish. It’s available in a variety of bright colors, is cheap, dries in 30 mins and covers up pretty much anything.

Finished Result

Full blow by blow of the experiment is here

I’m hoping you find this useful. If you have other tips for getting the same effect, I’d love to learn more!

4 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile


6703 posts in 2194 days

#1 posted 12-10-2015 08:58 PM

I’ve used nail polish for all sorts of stuff… it’s basically some really, really expensive lacquer paint sold by the half ounce :)

I’ve done an accent ring similar to yours, but instead of using lacquer (nail polish), I used epoxy that I tinted to achieve a dark red. A channel was cut while on the lathe, then filled with the epoxy. After it was cured, I finished turning and sanding the piece to smooth everything down. Not a real good picture, but it’s the lidded box in the upper left:

The one in the upper right was similar, but tinted brown and small slices from a branch were inlaid in the epoxy before it cured – then turned and sanded the same way.

I’ve also used it to paint stuff when I didn’t need a whole lot of paint, and the wife had a color I liked… like for this wiring block cover I made out of thin plywood:

And I’ve used it for all sorts of other stuff non-woodworking related… fixing chips in tile floors, coating damaged motor windings, and the list goes on :)


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 1146 days

#2 posted 12-10-2015 09:18 PM

I have used it to fill in scribe lines for contrast on rulers, miter gauges ect.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1225 days

#3 posted 12-10-2015 09:22 PM

You sure as heck know how to name a thread so that it WILL be read. Add “nailpolish” to the title.

My wife makes some nice turnings and borrows my…nevermind. I am quite selfdeificating.

Nice job.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View nerdkraft's profile


57 posts in 3013 days

#4 posted 12-10-2015 10:34 PM

Hah! Very good points.
I thought about using epoxy + color but then the clearance rack at the drug store jumped out at me :) For self preservation, I try not to steal from the Mrs.

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