Restoration of sewing box

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Project by Carey Mitchell posted 09-17-2020 10:45 PM 680 views 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was asked by a very nice lady to restore this little sewing box, destined to be a gift for a relative. As best I could date it, it is probably from the 1920’s. I believe the wood is sweetgum.

It was is rough shape and had been repaired numerous times, with nails and screws. Several of the dado joints had broken open, the thin ‘plywood’ (3 layers) had delaminated in 2 places, and each foot had wood missing.

I recalled that hide glue can be loosened by application of vinegar, so I used a hypodermic needle to inject some into the dadoes – it worked in 2 minutes. I reglued the plywood, made inserts for the missing wood from walnut.

There were about 15 nail holes to be filled where repair attempts had been made. I dipped round toothpicks in hide glue and drove them into the nail holes, and filled the depressed areas with hide glue – the brown color was just right. The holes for the screws forming the pivots for the tops were treated the same and new pilot holes drilled.

The finish was not recoverable. Once the old finish was removed, I dyed the wood with Transtint brown mahogany dye. This was followed by 3 coats of satin varnish, applied with a air brush.

This little project was really a lot of fun.

6 comments so far

View Eric's profile


557 posts in 757 days

#1 posted 09-17-2020 10:50 PM

Great job bringing this piece back to life.

-- Eric, building the dream

View observer100's profile


473 posts in 1994 days

#2 posted 09-18-2020 01:35 AM

Big improvement.
The lady must have been thrilled to see how well it turned out.

-- Seeing is believing.

View grovemadman's profile


728 posts in 4655 days

#3 posted 09-18-2020 04:09 AM

Nice job and glad you could save it from the trash heap. Now it might have another 100 years left in it!

-- "It is the job of the woodworker to hide his mistakes and keep a tight set of lips about them!"--Chuck

View Eeyore's profile


62 posts in 100 days

#4 posted 09-18-2020 10:48 AM

Brilliant work. I hope the recipient really uses it as much as the first hundred years worth of owners, just not as hard.

-- Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans

View TWegs's profile


71 posts in 1499 days

#5 posted 09-18-2020 03:48 PM

Excellent job restoring this sewing box. It is a beautiful piece and well worth the effort you’ve put into it. I’ve been looking at making a replica of an antique sewing box for my sister for her birthday. But it will be just that – a replica. I’m glad to see that someone is treasuring the originals and that you could extend its life.

View EllenWoodHead's profile


113 posts in 260 days

#6 posted 09-19-2020 02:34 AM

I have a sewing box like this that belonged to my grandmother. You inspire me to fix it up.

-- "wood" and "good" rhyme, but not "food"

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