Should I throw away this antique sewing cabinet or can parts of it be saved?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by ForestQuail posted 08-06-2019 08:02 PM 966 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ForestQuail's profile


4 posts in 127 days

08-06-2019 08:02 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question antique

Hello, I recently bought an antique sewing machine, I bought it more for the treadle it came with, so the condition of the cabinet wasn’t that important to me.
However, after I got it home I realized the wood was a lot worse than I thought, and when my dad saw it he said I should throw it away, but I think some parts of the cabinet can be saved.

The worst damage is on the chain lift top, where a chunk of the wood snapped off where one of the hinges is. This hinge supports most of the sewing machines weight when opening the door. The wood where the break is looks sort of dry and has some sparkly spots, sort of like sap or maybe glue. Could this be glued or should I just scrap it?
The machine and cabinet are at least 100 years old, so I’m not sure if the door broke due to age or something else. My dad thinks the wood has dry rot but it doesn’t really match the photos of what dry rot looks like.

The cradle (not sure if that’s the proper term) for the sewing machine is snapped in half, and it looks warped. I don’t think that piece can be easily saved.

The veneer inside the cabinet is cracking.

There are also some holes in the veneer on the one side of the cabinet.

Also, I’m pretty sure the previous owner was a smoker based on some items I found in the drawers, plus the whole cabinet smells like smoke/cigarettes. When I was taking it apart I had to put some baking soda and eucalyptus inside the drawers to try and help with the smell. Over the last few days the smell seems to have become better.

Any opinions would be appreciated :)

6 replies so far

View Kelly's profile


2523 posts in 3503 days

#1 posted 08-06-2019 08:38 PM

I still have the school desk I rescued from behind my dad’s house in Winthrop, Washington. It made this look like new. I cut it down (narrowed it) and made it into a lamp with a fold down seat.

So my vote is, play.

View pottz's profile


7003 posts in 1543 days

#2 posted 08-06-2019 09:52 PM

unless it had some sentimental value id scrap the cabinet and use the metal base for whatever you need it for.these old sewing machines arn’t really worth a lot because well, everybodies grandma had one,including mine which i still have for sentimental reasons.ive seen a lot of cool tables made with the base.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View SMP's profile


1446 posts in 464 days

#3 posted 08-06-2019 10:16 PM

If there is any actual solid wood I would probably theow that into my scrap pile and toss the rest.

View bilyo's profile


906 posts in 1661 days

#4 posted 08-06-2019 10:33 PM

I don’t see anything there that is NOT repairable if you have the means and desire. If it were mine, I would at least save the portions of the cabinet that have the drawers in them. Those could be made into something useful; for the shop if not for the house. For the smell, try washing it down with alcohol. I had a smokers computer once that smelled bad. Alcohol cleaned it up and removed the smell.

View LittleShaver's profile


598 posts in 1178 days

#5 posted 08-07-2019 03:40 PM

I’ve been through this a number of times over the years. If you take the drawers out and flip the top over you should be able to remove the drawer units by removing 8 screws. You can then re-hang the drawer units anywhere you want them. As previously stated, there is not much value in saving the rest without significant effort.

I’d also save the hardware, just because.

-- Sawdust Maker

View Sylvain's profile


896 posts in 3058 days

#6 posted 08-08-2019 08:12 AM

I would at least save the hardware.
I see you also have the machine, which brand is it?

This guy has restored a few sewing machine cabinets

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics