Cosmetics Storage, Nails

DIY Nail Varnish Rack Tutorial

July 8, 2014



Since I’ve started blogging, my Nail Varnish collection has gotten out of hand. It was so bad, that trying to choose a shade from my precariously placed free formed Nail Varnish pyramid was like playing a game of Jenga. Because of this I tended to go for a few staple colours to avoid setting off the Varnish grenade atop my bedroom drawers. I had a pitiful acrylic Nail Varnish rack which could hold around 20 bottles but this was not enough and the only thing that came close to what I wanted was a large wall mountable acrylic shelf that at over £50 I really couldn’t justify spending that kind of money.

Alas a few weeks ago on a Saturday evening, my partner Brains and I were in bed and I told him that I wanted to make a nail varnish rack. He did his usual “Oh right, Okay” and gave me a smile and off to sleep we went. On the Sunday morning he called to me and asked if I was ready, not knowing what I should be ready for I asked him, so when he told me we were off to Wickes to buy some supplies for my Nail Varnish rack I squealed with delight.

The supplies cost around £20, which included the wood, glue and paint – things you may already have lying around. Each shelf holds approximately 21 full size bottles depending on the shape, so should hold a minimum of 168 bottles with 8 shelves.

Now although I will make reference to “we” as in Brains and I – I’ll be the first to admit that he did approximately 98% of the work. I helped to hold things in place, painted it and filled it with Nail Varnish. So here’s how to make your own DIY Nail Varnish Rack:

Things you will need:

  • Dry Weather or space to work
  • Wood for shelves – we used Sawn Wood – 22mm x 47mm
  • Wood for the front of each shelf – we used Sawn Wood 19mm x 32mm
  • Hardboard (enough to cover the back of the shelf)
  • Wood Glue
  • Nails (4 for each shelf and enough for the back)
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Sandpaper
  • Tape Measure/Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Right angle tool/Spirit level


1. The first thing you need to do is cut your wood to size. I wanted 8 shelves, so we cut 9 pieces of wood which were 29 inches in length. Once you’ve cut your shelves, you need to measure and cut two pieces of wood for the sides. We took the tallest Nail Varnish bottles I had as a guide for spacing each shelf out (the gap between them is around 3.7 inches) and our two side panels measured 40 inches.

2. Now you have all your pieces, you want to start assembling the rack. Make sure you measure the distance between each shelf and mark your side panels before you begin – Brains marked this in pencil on both of the side pieces as a rough guide. Begin by gluing the first side piece to your first shelf – this will become either the top or bottom and you should use a spirit level or a right angled tool to help you out here (Brains was very inventive and used an old motorcycle number plate). To help the rack become sturdier, 2 nails were hammered through the side piece to secure the shelf. Attach the remaining shelves to the first side part, measuring carefully. Once you’ve attached them all, you can do it all again on the other side and attach the second side piece.

3. Leave the rack to dry fully before moving onto the next stage.

4. Whilst the wood glue is drying, measure a piece (or two on our case) of hardboard and cut to size to fit the back of the rack. In our case it was 30.7 inches by 40 inches.


5.  Attach this with some glue and secure with small nails. We picked up some hardboard that had a white finish to it, so make sure this is facing forwards if you intend on doing the same.

6. Next you need to cut to size the wood you will be using the front of each shelf. This is optional, but I think it gives a nice finish to it. You will need to cut one for each shelf and it needs to be as wide as the rack (Our’s measured 30.7 inches). Attach these with wood glue – you can use a few tac’s to secure them in place, but ours held well enough without.

7. Now it’s assembled you can sand any rough edges and it’s ready for painting – although make sure you choose a paint specifically for wood. I chose a white with an eggshell finish, which gave a slight matte finish rather than a gloss – but you could go for a sheen or even wood stain, it’s completely up to you. This only needed 2 coats, but it really depends on how porous the wood is, so it’s best to pick up more rather than less paint.

8. Once it’s dry, fill it with all your lovely varnishes!

I’m actually really pleased with how this looks, although Brains is already coming up with plans on how he can improve this for the “Nail Varnish Rack Mark 2” of which there will be more and better pictures! Unfortunately the weather was so unpredictable that we had to keep running in and out of the house with bits of wood and a half finished rack due to the infamous British Jekyll & Hyde weather, so all of my perfect picture plans to carefully document each and every stage was a massive failure. Thankfully when I was painting it, the weather stayed marginally dry until the final coat and it ended up finishing off the drying process in the conservatory on an old towel whilst the heaven’s opened.

Of the salvageable pictures in between transporting everything in and out the house, at least 50% of them were photo-bombed by CJ our pooch, so here are some of my choice cuts for your own amusement:

cjs-photobomb moments

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this and it’s been somewhat informative (please do ask any questions in the comments below if you are unclear about anything!). The possibilities really are endless with this and you can make it as big or small as you like. If you’ve made one similar, or indeed we’ve inspired you to make one through this post, please send us links to your pictures below!

Totally hellbent for being able to see all my Nail Varnish’s




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  • Reply Lauren July 10, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Oh, I love this! I bought a nail polish rack, but that got full so fast! I may see a project in my future!

    • Reply Pants July 11, 2014 at 9:39 am

      Aww thanks! The beauty with this one, is that once it’s full we can make another exactly the same and it will match :oD. Good luck if you do take it on as a project though!

  • Reply Mr5ilyas December 28, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Which shop did you buy your wood from

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