Nail polish remover on kitchen table

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by ravensrock posted 03-23-2014 11:25 PM 6246 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ravensrock's profile


513 posts in 2930 days

03-23-2014 11:25 PM

Hello everyone,

My daughter spilled nail polish remover (acetone) on our kitchen table. As you can see in the pics it went clear through the finish down to the bare wood in the biggest spot. Some other smaller spots didn’t go all the way through but feel rough to the touch. Any options besides refinishing the whole top? And if I have to do that, what about the curved edges. Would it look right to just do the top? Thanks in advance.

-- Dave, York, PA, Wildside Woodworking

32 replies so far

View Whiskers's profile


389 posts in 3314 days

#1 posted 03-24-2014 08:38 AM

Yikes, glad I don’t have daughters. I’m not expert in finishing and patching them, so I will leave that to others, but If you can give any insight into how it was finished to begin with, that would help.

View ravensrock's profile


513 posts in 2930 days

#2 posted 03-24-2014 08:12 PM

I know there are a lot of finishing experts on here. Anybody have any other thoughts?

-- Dave, York, PA, Wildside Woodworking

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 3734 days

#3 posted 03-24-2014 08:22 PM

Did you consider sanding the whole top and redo it all over ?it would give you the uniform look that you are after.
I am no expert but I wonder if PVR will do a good job at removing the old varnish.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30651 posts in 3625 days

#4 posted 03-24-2014 08:36 PM

I would sand top only. Unless you are going to change its color. Then I would do the entire piece.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View thetinman's profile


294 posts in 2825 days

#5 posted 03-24-2014 08:46 PM

Rather than sanding the top, I use a scraper. A painter’s scraper, run over the sander or grinder gives a nice edge. Just pull it towards you and increase the angle when you are comfortable. Some people are afraid of scrapers but they are very easy to use and leave a fine surface. It is surprisingly fast with little to no fine dust. I would only do the top.

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

View ravensrock's profile


513 posts in 2930 days

#6 posted 03-24-2014 08:55 PM

Thanks for the replies…sounds like the consensus so far is having to refinish the whole top and not just repair the damage.

distrbd- What is PVR? Can’t be personal video recorder.

thetinman- Are you referring to a card scraper? I’m picturing a painter’s scraper as more of a rough tool. If I end up having to refinish the whole top I was thinking I would have to sand it down to the bare wood, then try to match the color of the edges as close as possible. Is this not correct?

-- Dave, York, PA, Wildside Woodworking

View thetinman's profile


294 posts in 2825 days

#7 posted 03-24-2014 09:07 PM

No not a card scraper. A painter’s scraper with a handle on it. You are right to think that it might be rough picturing a painter knocking down pealing paint, etc. They come rather dull. Take the blade out and run it over your sander or grinder. It will sharpen the edge. You don’t need a knife-edge, just not dull like they come. Now, say you are right handed, hold the handle in your right hand and apply pressure with your left. How much you take off is determined by the pressure and the angle. The other purpose of your left hand on the head is to hold it flat. The only way you can gouge is to twist the blade. Surprisingly easy – but intimidating at first. Oh, don’t scrape from over an edge. Start just inside and scrape to the edge. All of the finish will come off in thin easily controlled ribbons. Then lightly sand and refinish. You’ll never use sandpaper to remove a finish again. Fast, easy and clean.

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

View Mustang67's profile


111 posts in 2841 days

#8 posted 03-24-2014 09:34 PM

I am definitely no finishing expert, and the others might disagree, but I would be tempted to try to match it (especially if it’s shellac) on a small spot, and then if I didn’t like it, sand/scrape. I don’t think I’d touch the edges either if I didn’t have to, or unless the new color is way different.

View jdh122's profile


1269 posts in 4105 days

#9 posted 03-24-2014 10:04 PM

If acetone went through the finish that thoroughly I’d think that the finish is probably shellac (very waterproof, almost no resistance to alcohols and solvents), from the looks of it maybe amber shellac. Like Mustang67 I’d try to patch it first – if it’s simply amber shellac it should repair pretty easily and the patch will dissolve into the surrounding area.
Of course there’s a pretty good chance that it won’t work but you’ll only be out a few dollars for the shellac.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4872 days

#10 posted 03-24-2014 10:55 PM

Redo the whole top. IMHO .
I had a problem like this with a very old antique table with some obvious scrtaches on top It would never have been acceptable to patch it.
And since the table was my own and I have no intention of selling it with Obvious antique patina problems etc
I just sanded the whole top and put on some sealer then varnished with polyurethane varnish not water based which I find too soft in general .It turned out really nice and looks better than ever with all the marquetry colours showing through for the first time in years.I was not particularly valuable so I had a go with what at least I consider with really good results.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 4248 days

#11 posted 03-24-2014 11:15 PM

Tablecloth with glass over it.

View ravensrock's profile


513 posts in 2930 days

#12 posted 03-24-2014 11:22 PM

Knothead62- I was considering place mats. But what kind of woodworker would I be if i didn’t at least try to fix this.

I’m told this is parawood. Anyone have any experience with this? I honestly never heard of it before. Just quickly searched google and seems it can be difficult to get an even finish. I guess there would be no harm in trying to just fix the messed up spots. If it doesn’t work I can always refinish the whole top.

jdh122- I’ve always just used some kind of stain and poly to finish my projects so never even got into trying shellac yet. But that would be great if that’s all it took. Might have to pick up a can of amber shellac and see what happens.

I’m guessing I need to lightly sand the damaged areas first. Is this right?

-- Dave, York, PA, Wildside Woodworking

View a1Jim's profile


118297 posts in 4864 days

#13 posted 03-25-2014 12:46 AM

A couple points here,Acetone will remove many finishes not just shellac. Acetone is one of the stongest solvents out there. Shellac has a very poor resistance to water and the way to test to see if its shellac is to use some denatered alcohol on a rag in a hidden area and see if it readily dissolves the top coat . If it is shellac you can try wipeing the spill area down with naptha and lightly sand with some 600 grit wipe clean and spray a light coat of dewaxed shellac (it comes in a rattle cans) let dry and apply another coat. If it doesn’t look like the rest of the top you can either try to add stain or dye to the damaged area or just sand the whole top and refinish.


View Finisherman's profile


227 posts in 3136 days

#14 posted 03-25-2014 05:57 AM

Do you have the ability to spray finishes? If you do, I’d suggest the following approach. Mask off the area and create an opening in the masking material that’s roughly the same size as the damaged area. Next, use an airbrush or a touch up gun to apply a toner made with a thinned finish, to which you add a dye like trans tint. The trick here is to apply the toner only to the damaged area without changing the colour on the rest of the surface. If you don’t have an airbrush or a touch up gun, you can buy aerosol toners from companies that cater to the finishing trade, such as Mohawk. Incidentally, Charles Neil has a vide on you tube which talks about how to correct problems like this. It’s entitled “fixing finishing mistakes.” It’s worth a look.

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 3380 days

#15 posted 03-25-2014 07:10 AM

My guess is that the finish on that table is nitrocellulose lacquer. As a1Jim said, acetone is very strong stuff and is part of lacquer thinner. Most factory made furniture is finished with lacquer because it dries fast. Also, such furniture isn’t usually stained. The lacquer is tinted instead.

Fixing lacquer is actually relatively easy because you can always slap more lacquer on top. The new lacquer will meld into the old. The problem I foresee is color matching. If color matching isn’t a problem you can probably just get a rattle can of lacquer and spray it.

showing 1 through 15 of 32 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics