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Thread: How I refurbished a 1947 Singer cabinet

  1. #1
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    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.
    http://www.howardproducts.com/restora.htm

    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.







    closed cabinet
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    15-91 before refurbishing
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    after refurbishing
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  2. #2
    Moderator tlrnhi's Avatar
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    That's really nice!!! Me likey!

  3. #3
    Super Member Chele's Avatar
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    Wow! It looks beautiful! I can't believe you bought it for $12.50! Your workmanship is top notch!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Deara's Avatar
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    You did a beautiful job.

    Fantastic purchase too.

    I love yard sales and flea markets.

    Deara

  5. #5
    Moderator tlrnhi's Avatar
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    I meant to add that I "might" have a lead on a treadle. Talking to a lady at Ben Franklins today. Seems her mother has one that is just sitting and doing nothing. I told her I would be willing to buy it if she is willing to sell it. Said I'd give her a decent price depending on the condition. She said it was in great condition. Most of the people here will not mislead you when you talk to them. One of the GREAT things about living here.
    Anyway....Just waiting to see the lady again so I can ask her what is going on with it. I sure hope she wants to sell! Just gotta figure out a price.......

  6. #6
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlrnhi
    I meant to add that I "might" have a lead on a treadle. Talking to a lady at Ben Franklins today. Seems her mother has one that is just sitting and doing nothing. I told her I would be willing to buy it if she is willing to sell it. Said I'd give her a decent price depending on the condition. She said it was in great condition. Most of the people here will not mislead you when you talk to them. One of the GREAT things about living here.
    Anyway....Just waiting to see the lady again so I can ask her what is going on with it. I sure hope she wants to sell! Just gotta figure out a price.......
    I've found that prices are all over the place for a vintage machine. I've been watching craigslist (probably not available in Guam) and I see ads starting at over $200, eventually reappearing at $150, then $100, then $50, sometimes less. I've seen several ads for free machines! Often when someone wants to sell a vintage machine it's because they don't have the space for it, or it belonged to a family member and they want it to be cared for. You might look at Ebay prices to see what comparable machines have actually sold for, but prices there tend to be higher than garage sales. Good luck in getting your treadle.

  7. #7
    Moderator tlrnhi's Avatar
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    There's really nothing here worth anything on Craigslist. I've looked.
    I am praying that this woman sells me the machine. I told her I would give it TONS of love!
    Heck, if it's just sitting there and it's collecting dust, not being used....if it's in good condition, I'll give her $100 for it.

  8. #8
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    It looks beautiful!! You did a great job with it!!

  9. #9
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    12.50, wow...you did great on price and the refurbishing! :thumbup:

  10. #10
    racnquilter's Avatar
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    Beautiful job!! Great deal...

  11. #11
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    WOW

    you did an amazing job!

  12. #12
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    :shock: :shock: What an awesome transformation :shock: :shock:
    You really know how to make a tired treasure shine brightly again!!! 8) 8) 8)
    Can't wait to see more of your "trash" to treasures!!!!

  13. #13
    Power Poster Lacelady's Avatar
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    You really did a great job on that...now, I just happen to have a couple of small tables, a dresser.... and one or two other things around the place in need of the same treatment. You aren't coming to Ireland any time soon, by any chance?

  14. #14
    Senior Member countrymaid's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. I have two treadles sitting in the back room. They were given to me several years ago and could use some TLC. My dad just told me that Grandma's machine is in his attic. Don't have a clue what it is. Guess I'd better go for a visit. :wink:

  15. #15
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    That looks awesome! You did a beautiful job with the refinishing. I have a similar one in a cherry finish that needs refinishing. It was a freebie from a co-worker who was "spring cleaning". I spent about $100 giving the machine a good cleaning & replacing the electrical. I think mine Singer was dated 1939. It works great, but he lubed it up so much I still haven't worked all the extra out yet. All I need now is a sewing room to put it in!

  16. #16
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    wow that nice

  17. #17
    Power Poster Ninnie's Avatar
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    You did a fantastic job and it looks great!

  18. #18
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lacelady
    You really did a great job on that...now, I just happen to have a couple of small tables, a dresser.... and one or two other things around the place in need of the same treatment. You aren't coming to Ireland any time soon, by any chance?
    Hey, if you're offering a place to sleep I'd be happy to work on the furniture. :wink:

  19. #19
    Super Member Eddie's Avatar
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    Wow, that is a site to behold! A real thing of beauty. Thanks for sharing the pics with us.

  20. #20
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    Wow, you did a great job on that cabinet. Looks like new. And what a buy.

  21. #21
    Super Member jbsstrawberry's Avatar
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    You made a fantastic purchase, and did wonderfully restoring a truly beautiful cabinet. How wonderful that you've kept a great piece of sewing history alive!! Fantastic job!!

  22. #22
    CRH
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    You did a GREAT job!! Love it!!!! (And I'll bet It feels loved!!)

  23. #23
    Super Member Shemjo's Avatar
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    You did a beautiful job on refurbishing that cabinet. It looks really loved! I have an old treadle that has been loved by children with stickers! There is hope. :lol:

  24. #24
    Super Member no1jan's Avatar
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    Wow, what a fantastic job you did on that cabinet! I'm impressed.

    I have one just like it, HINT, HINT!!!

    No, I will have to follow your directions when I have time.

    Thanks for sharing.

  25. #25
    Super Member quilt addict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    Quote Originally Posted by Lacelady
    You really did a great job on that...now, I just happen to have a couple of small tables, a dresser.... and one or two other things around the place in need of the same treatment. You aren't coming to Ireland any time soon, by any chance?
    Hey, if you're offering a place to sleep I'd be happy to work on the furniture. :wink:
    You did a wonderful job, I passed on up just last weekend at a garage sale because the cabinet was so rough. You made it beautiful.

    I know its not Ireland, but if you come do some cabinets, and Billy stops by on his trip to help with the machines, I would be in heaven!
    8-) 8-)

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