Damage Control: Salvaging Torn Fingernails

We’ve all done it. Something is falling, a box perhaps, and we reach out with our right hand and the worst happens. No, the box doesn’t just fall to the ground, it grazes the fingertips. That is when you notice that your ring finger nail is there… just feels weird. It is torn, not all the way but significantly. Now what do you do? Finish the job in anger, tearing it the rest of the way? Actually, no you do not have to do that! There is a quick, cheap and easy fix!

What You Will Need

  • A bandaid
  • Super glue of some sort, I prefer gorilla glue
  • An empty, clean tea bag or tissue paper
  • Tweezers and patience!

What You Need to Do

If you are not going to be able to do the repair immediately, that is where the band aid comes in. If it happens and you can get a band aid grab it and open it, place the pad of the band aid against your nail, no the sticky portion. This will prevent the nail from catching again and tearing off completely and also allow you to apply a little bit of tape around the band aid so as to further protect the nail from complete destruction.

Later, when you are able to do the real repair apply a small amount of glue directly to the top of the nail near the tear. Let gravity work the glue towards the tear and gently use the tweezers to open the tear slightly to get some of the glue in between the tear to lock it back together. Let it dry for a short time before starting the next stop.

After the initial glue has dried slightly apply a small dot or two of glue on the nail again and use a small piece of the empty tea bag cut down enough to cover at least a sixteenth of an inch on either side of the tear. An empty tea bag can be attained from a tea shop or online. The fibrous construction of the tea bag (or some tissue paper, but it will take more layers) will create a fiberglass like construction, where there is an adhesive and particles to lock all of the sides together.

At this point you need to allow the glue to saturate the fiber, tea bag or tissue paper, and let it dry slightly. Once that has happened buff and polish the glue! I cannot emphasize this enough! Since you will likely do at least one more layer and cover the entire section up the nail edge in glue it needs to be smooth so as not to negatively affect your tone. Polishing in between steps will ensure it doesn’t take forever to get it smooth. Be careful though because too much polishing can weaken the patch, so, polish, glue, dry and polish again.

This is a time consuming but cheap and effective way to make the best of a terrible situation. Hopefully this will help you in the terrible event that you tear your nail! Happy practicing!

Posted on in Classical Guitar Fingernails


  • Pasha

    Thank You! I am newly learning Classical Guitar and I already have had a few catastrophes!