Someone asked about where to start refurbishing an old sewing machine cabinet, so I thought I would offer a description of how I proceeded on this machine. This is a 1947 Singer 15-91 in a Queen Anne cabinet. I found it when I was walking in my neighborhood last August. I passed a garage sale, and this caught my eye. It was marked down from $25 to $12.50. I didn't even know that I wanted a vintage sewing machine until then, but it called to me.
The cabinet looked really bad, but it was actually in okay shape. There were some water marks, but the veneer was tight, and the scratches were mostly superficial.
I took the cabinet apart completely, which was pretty easy because everything was screwed together. After wiping off the cobwebs, dust and grime, I used Klean Strip Klean Kutter Refinisher. It's a very gentle stripper, recommended for antiques. You just paint it on, wait half an hour or so, and wipe it off with paper towels. http://www.wmbarr.com/product.aspx?catid=72&prodid=92
After that I used Howard Restor-A-Finish. If the wood is in good shape, you might be able to skip the stripping completely and just use this product.
I then applied Howard Feed-N-Wax. http://www.howardproducts.com/feednwax.htm
I cleaned up the hardware, polished the brass parts, and put the cabinet back together. The head looked like it had been cleaned since its last use, so all I did was clean, oil, and grease it and polish the bling.
The machine sews beautifully, though all it's doing right now is sitting in my living room looking pretty. I hope this description will help other people bring new life to their old sewing machines. It's so sad seeing them down on their luck. I think I've gotten the "bug" now though. I just bought a treadle machine (in another thread) and I can't stop looking for more stuff to fix up. I may need an intervention soon.
15-91 before refurbishing