Okay quilters here we go!
120-200 grit sandpaper
Lots of cotton rags(old t-shirts underware etc) white only
containers to but stripper and mess from the old finish in(coffee cans work great)
2" natural bristle brush of good quality for applying shellac
stain brown walnut, dark oak or mahogony(your choice) I use aniline dye water soluble(can be ordered from the Rockler Cat)
your choice of brand
Orange and clear shellac 1qt each
1gal denatured alcohol
1 gal of turpintine
1 gal of your favorite stripper
Paint the stripper on the surface doing a section at a time. For example do the top first then the each side. Let stand according to the instructions on the stripper. Scrape off old loose finish into a coffee can. Wipe surface with rag and turps. This will clean the stripper and nutralize the chemical action of the stripper. Repeat if necessary.
When stipped to your satisfaction wipe down the entire piece with turps. Let stand 24 hours to let the turps evaporate. Then Wipe the piece down again using alcohol. This will prep the wood for staining and remove any unwanted moisture. Let dry for about an hour.
Using a clean rag apply stain to the cabinet. If using oil base stain let dry overnight. If using water base let a couple of hours. Make sure stain is even on the cabinet. The stain can be adjusted at anytime during this stage.
Feel the surface now that the stain is dry to see if it raised the grain of the wood. If it did use the steel wool or sandpaper to lightly smooth the surface down. Clean all dust off with a vacuum then wipe down with the alcohol. Let stand 1 hour.
Apply first coat of shellac using the orange shellac. This gives the amber look to the finish to simulate age. Let dry a couple of hours and apply the clear shellac. Apply two to three coats of clear shellac. Let the piece stand for about a week to cure.
The finish will appear shiny and new. Now take the paste wax and apply it using the steel wool with the grain. Gently rubbing down the finish. Let wax dry buff with clean cloth. Do only a small area at a time. This will take the shine and the new look off the finish. This will take some time so do not rush. When you are pleased with the results you are done. All that is required now is to keep it dusted (NO enddust or pledge please) Dust with soft rag then a clean soft rag can be used to buff the shine back up. You should wax the cabinet once a year, you will not use steel wool this time. Just follw the instructions.
Note; If shellac feels to thick you can thin it with the alcohol. Work quickly when appling shellac and always keep a wet edge Shellac dries fastbut easy to apply. It can be sprayed also.
You do not have to use shellac you can also use an oil varnish, I do not recommend water based poly because of it clearity it will not have that old wood glow. Oil varnish takes so long to dry(overnight) that you need a dust free place to work or you will wake up to a finish with embeded dust. I am here to answer your qustions. Just post them on the vintage sewing machine shop. Glenn