Refinished Deystroyed 1920's Sewing Cabinet

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Project by Nkosika posted 06-17-2012 02:45 PM 3972 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A friend of mine had recieved a free 1920’s singer sewing cabinet that was deystroyed but fit perfectly into a project I wanted to do, refinishing something free that if I deystroyed it wouldn’t be missed. It took a few hours just figure out what had been done to it over the 90 last years. Pained, Shelf papered, painted again. I would get to test out products I had never used to strip this.

I used a 2 step Star 10 product to strip it. Step 1, A thick paste that you just leave on and it eats the paint, lifted and bubbled the shelf paper and took off the varnish. Scraped it off and then Step 2, which is like paint thinner, cleans off and takes a lot of the stain out of the wood. The table top took a couple of treatments but drawers and bottoms only took 1 step. I was above average happy with these products although a little pricey.

I then used Zinsser, 2 step wood bleaching to get all the color out of the table top portions, leaving the bottom pieces out of this process. This worked well but wear thick rubber gloves, step 2 generates a chemical reaction heat. Then sanded down the veeneer as much as possible to remove worn out grain from use.

Originally everything was stained Maple but now is faded. So I took teal oil wipe on wipe off General Finishes, stained the bottom lightly to freshen the color, then a few coats on the sanded, bleached tops to match the color. I hate oil stain but wanted it to be as close to original as possible.

I then used General Finishes, Satin Varnish, 3 coats everywhere, for the table top sanding 250 grit each coat but not on the bottom areas. I used rags for everything, stain and varnish, no sprays. On the table top, I finished it off with a 700 wet dry handsanding, using water. For a Satin varnish it is still pretty reflective and very smooth.

It is a gift to the owner, I learned a lot and it has flaws, especially in the varnish, eye brow hairs and lashes, some bubbles I couldn’t sand out. But overall I am happy, if you want to see more pictures and descriptions –

I did step by step on my facebook page.

5 comments so far

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3909 days

#1 posted 06-17-2012 03:50 PM

Very nice refinishing work. You did a job that your friend will always treasure. I have always like the old tiger stripe oak and you brought out the wood grain.

View Nkosika's profile


20 posts in 2840 days

#2 posted 06-17-2012 04:46 PM

Thank you very much! Tiger stripe oak, I did not know it had that specific of a name, THANKS! Having not worked with antiques, I didn’t know that wood grain would get smooshed and worn away where the hands rested at. There is a thin line to walk, where you sand out the worn out spots but not go through the thin veneer.

View seamuis's profile


31 posts in 3201 days

#3 posted 06-17-2012 09:13 PM

Yeah, I’d say I definitely have a little more to work with to start! Came out absolutely beautiful, nice job! Was the veneer on the bottom of the fold-out leaf gone, or destroyed? Or was it solid oak? Mine, and a couple others I’ve run across, had that leaf made from 3 planks of oak, biscuit joined(or whatever they did in 1913), and veneered top and bottom with 1/4 sawn oak. Far as I can tell, the rest of it is solid oak except for the drawers. With the fronts rounded over like that, obviously veneer. Here is a link to a site that I found, gave me a little history on my sewing machine, as well as the far-fetched hope that it may be worth a chunk. I bought it to restore it, for my own entertainment, but wanted to really put some effort into the research before I put the stripper to it. Check it out, may give you some insight as to the history of yours!

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 4286 days

#4 posted 06-18-2012 12:14 AM

Nice restoration.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3469 posts in 4312 days

#5 posted 06-18-2012 05:20 AM

A wonderful transformation! Thanks for sharing.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

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