Sewing Cabinet

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Project by scoobydooo9r posted 02-24-2014 08:34 AM 2964 views 8 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s a shot of the pile of wood that it started out as:

One of my first commissions, a custom sewing cabinet.

This project was pretty interesting. I think one of the coolest parts of my job is getting to learn about things that I wouldn’t normally. To help my design this piece, I learned quite a bit about sewing from both my client and on the internet. Through this process, we honed in on some things that will seriously improve my client’s experience and results in her sewing.

She had a table already, but she wanted a bigger one with an air lift. Through my discussion with her during the design phase, we hashed out a ton of improvements to the basic design that are custom tailored to her. For example, we moved the drawer bank from the right side of the table to the left since she is left-handed. The dimensions of the drawers were specific to fit an extra attachment piece for her machine. I added a few things that should help out some that were merged into the design.

Overall, it was a fun project. It took me wayyy too long to complete, but it was worth the work.

I documented the build on my blog. I tried to include a good amount of detail, but it doesn’t cover everything. I wanted to document it there because I felt that the client would enjoy getting weekly updates of the progress of her cabinet. I think she enjoyed it.

If you want to go through the build on my website, here’s a link to the posts:

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

14 comments so far

View manishrkp's profile


2 posts in 2707 days

#1 posted 02-24-2014 05:11 PM

Like the expansion idea. Great

-- Where there is a will there is a way.

View Ken90712's profile


18048 posts in 4343 days

#2 posted 02-24-2014 05:34 PM

Great looking desk! A real beauty!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Grumpymike's profile


2480 posts in 3470 days

#3 posted 02-25-2014 12:54 AM

Looks just fine from over here, I like the flip-up extensions …

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View scoobydooo9r's profile


187 posts in 4930 days

#4 posted 02-25-2014 06:59 AM

Thanks everyone. I took a bunch of ideas from the client, did a ton of research on what they sell in sewing shops, and slapped it all together! I have to say that the air lift mechanism is a pretty awesome gizmo. I could see that type of thing useful in the kitchen too.

Oh, and the client picked out the knobs… hardware is the worst part to pick out, and she did great with those black glass ones. I would never have picked something like that. It’s amazing how design is shaped from all around us.

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

View eruby's profile


99 posts in 3929 days

#5 posted 02-25-2014 12:59 PM

Very nice. My wife has taken up sewing and one of these is on my project list, someday. Does the sewing machine come all the way up or did you make some type of zero clearance insert that makes the sewing machine’s work surface level with the cabinet’s table surface?

-- Eric - Baltimore MD

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4021 days

#6 posted 02-25-2014 02:34 PM

That is a nice project and very well done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View scoobydooo9r's profile


187 posts in 4930 days

#7 posted 02-25-2014 10:23 PM

Hi eruby, the air lift has three stop points – one that puts the sewing machine below the table completely, one that has the platform the machine sits on level with the table (and the sewing machine bed is NOT level with the table), and one where the sewing machine bed is level with the table. Originally, I was going to do a throat plate, but the client didn’t want it. I did save the material that I cut out to make the hole in the table top, and it is an insert that she can put in place to cover that hole when the machine is tucked under the table.

If you don’t want to mess with building the insert yourself, you can buy them matched to the machine… but it would limit you to make the hole in the table a specific size to match the store bought insert. I saw them while doing research online on this website.

Let me know if you need any help at all when you get started… Not that I’m an expert, but I’d be willing to help out if I can.

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

View scoobydooo9r's profile


187 posts in 4930 days

#8 posted 02-25-2014 10:24 PM

Hi Charles,

Thanks for checking it out. It was interesting… but I’m ready to get back to hardwood. Plywood drives me crazy! Next project: gun cabinet, but I’ve been stalling a bit on it. These larger projects take a lot out of me.

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4749 days

#9 posted 03-16-2014 04:37 AM

This is a really cool design you can tell you really did your research

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View scoobydooo9r's profile


187 posts in 4930 days

#10 posted 03-16-2014 05:24 AM

Thanks Doug, I actually learned a lot about how people sew at desks like this, which I had no clue about before. Luckily, I got most of that info from the client, but I also did a lot of research into other commercially available sewing stations just to see if there was anything else to add to it. There wasn’t much else to learn from them, but I did learn a trick or two from other designs.

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

View thedude50's profile


3613 posts in 3632 days

#11 posted 03-16-2014 05:47 AM

looks a lot like my Moms Sewing cabinet it served her well I am sure your client will get many good years of service out of it just like my mom did now that mom has passed its going to my sisters house who is also an avid seamstress. Where did you get the design

-- Please check out my new stores and

View rg33's profile


83 posts in 3156 days

#12 posted 03-16-2014 06:44 AM

Zac, very cool! congrats. I’ve been looking into several designs for making one of these as well. Can you talk about the lift mechanism? I know that rockler sells one but I was wondering if there are more options out there.

View scoobydooo9r's profile


187 posts in 4930 days

#13 posted 03-17-2014 08:21 AM

Hey thedude,

I actually designed the whole thing myself. It was based on specific measurements from the client due to the fact that it had to fit tightly where it was going to go in her house. The drawers were based on her supplies and accessories that needed to fit in them. Other than that, I did some research online to get inspiration, but overall it’s 100% unique.

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

View scoobydooo9r's profile


187 posts in 4930 days

#14 posted 03-17-2014 08:48 AM

Hey rg33,

The lift mechanism was the thing that hung me up for a while on this project. I couldn’t wrap my head around how it mounted, and I couldn’t start designing it until I knew how it needed to be mounted. I even called the manufacturer of one of them trying to get more detailed plans, and they said they didn’t have any instructions for it!

The installation is actually pretty simple, but requires a little spacer block to get the sewing machine closer to the front of the table. I used about a 4” spacer block from the back of the cabinet. The mechanism works great though, and it is adjustable. You can easily get the sewing machine bed to be perfectly flush with the table top by adjusting the stop mechanism. It operates pretty easy once the weight of the machine is on it. You just push down on the machine and it has 3 locking stops: one stop drops the machine completely under the table for storing it, one puts the sewing machine bed flush with the table top, and one puts the machine above the table top.

I bought mine at Lee Valley. It was rated at 40 pounds vs. 30-35 pounds for the Rockler one, and they were the same price. The only other option you have (that I know of) is an electric one. It looks similar in design to the air lift, but goes for $425. I found that electric one here: The air lift from Lee Valley is $170.

Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you out in any way. I also documented the whole project on my website if you want to check it out. It’s not a tutorial, but I tried to cover most of the build in there. It may give you some ideas and a better look at the lift installation. Here’s a link to the posts on my site:

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

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