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Flaking on vintage sewing cabinet

Flaking on vintage sewing cabinet

Old 04-10-2018, 08:57 AM
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Default Flaking on vintage sewing cabinet

I don't believe this cabinet needs to be completely refinished. It has a few dings and light scratches but I don't want to make it new- just give it some special treatment. Will be cleaning it this weekend with Glenn's formula.

Pics of the top where flaking occurring: where the two flip out pieces come together there is flaking on the base(pictured here) and then on the two pieces' corners Is there a way to "fix" this and prevent more flaking?

The back is in great shape- just the one scrape and a few dings (only if you get close)

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.


Additional pictures are posted under my original hunt for this cabinet: Singer No. 42 Cabinet- Art Decor
Attached Thumbnails flaking-off-cabinet-.jpg   cabinet-back.jpg  
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:00 AM
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I'll be watching this thread as I have a couple of cabinets that need some loving touch too.
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:30 AM
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Are you saying the shiny part of the finish is flaking off or are you saying the veneer (a thin piece of wood on the surface) is flaking off?

From what I can see, it looks like it's just the finish. I'm not sure if the finish is shellac or lacquer. (I think Glenn covers that in his finishing tutorial.) I think the way to correct this is to reapply the finish that is missing from that area. Then you would proceed with the rest of the work. If it's shellac, it would be easy. You can do the french polish method that Glenn recommends in his tutorial on redoing the machine head itself. It would take a few days, but would not be too messy or require massive daily cleanup as you just use a cloth to apply the shellac and can dispose of it daily until you build up the finish to get close to the the other areas.

If it's lacquer, it's more difficult for the lay person. You have to spray lacquer. You can buy it in a can, though. Whether it will require staining to match before you spray, I can't tell you. I've been around people applying finishes, but I've haven't done that much myself (my ex owned a woodshop).

I wish I could help more.

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Old 04-10-2018, 12:23 PM
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Just the finish is flaking off. I will check out Glenn's tutorial again. All the help is greatly appreciated!
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Old 04-10-2018, 03:20 PM
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I just texted the ex to ask if lacquer would flake. He said that he thought any finish would flake.

If it's still flaking, you're going to need to sand it back to the point that the finish is in good condition.

I have a book that Miriam recommended. I think I bought it used from Amazon. It's called The Furniture Doctor by George Grotz. It was written in 1962. It has lots of detail on refinishing/repairing/refinishing. You many be able to get it from your library. It's also available both new and used from Amazon.

Best guess - it's lacquer. It dries quickly, so it was (and may still be) used extensively in factories for that reason.

First, I would rule out shellac. You can test for it, as shellac is alcohol solvable. I understand that you can wet the finish in an inconspicuous place with an swab dipped in alcohol and the finish will get sticky. (I tried this once, but couldn't tell if it was sticky or not.) If it tests positive for shellac, you can get a tiny can of shellac at home depot (or any paint store). If I remember correctly, it comes in clear and amber colored. I'd try the amber color. I would try a small spot on the edge of the marred area and see if it comes close to the color of the rest of the machine the next day. If it does, you have your answer. If not, you're back to trying something else.

Lacquer has to be applied in light coats, which you can very well do. You have to let it dry and then spray again. What I don't know is if the lacquer will darken when it dries to make the bald spot match the rest of it.

Several people have lots more experience than I do. If you get someone with actual experience to help you, listen to them. My experience is second hand, at best.

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Old 04-11-2018, 04:15 AM
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It looks like lacquer to me. Lacquer is hard to repair for a novice and even harder to apply and match the surrounding area. It has turned white due to moisture damage. Yes bkay said test first to see what the finish is. Us denatured alcohol on a test spot to see if it becomes tacky it is shellac if not it is lacquer or varnish. It will take several minutes to get tacky if shellac.
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Old 04-11-2018, 05:11 AM
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I just realized that the tutorial Glenn wrote on cabinet finishing is not one of the stickies (tutorials that stay at the top of the page).

This may help.

Cleaning and Reviving furniture(Sewing cabinets)

bkay
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Old 04-11-2018, 07:30 AM
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Thanks bay and Glenn for the information. Headed out to get supplies to clean the wood as listed in Glenn's tute (thanks bkay) Will use the denatured alcohol to see if it is shellac or lacquer. Then I will ask more questions, for sure. Now to see if I can get those drawers out so they can be aired outside with the upcoming warmer weather. Thanks again.
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Old 04-11-2018, 12:53 PM
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I will be glad to answer any questions you have about the instructions in my tutorial.
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Old 04-11-2018, 03:07 PM
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Not sticky - LACQUER! Removing machine and then will clean using this: Cleaning and Reviving furniture(Sewing cabinets) AND then assess the next step?

Got the drawers out with help at this link:https://www.supermomnocape.com/art-d...mbly-required/. Solid, no loose joints.
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