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Thread: refinishing sewing machine cabinets

  1. #26
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by damaquilts
    That looks really nice Glenn. And that Red eye is gorgeous.
    Thanks, grandma took very good care of it. She bought it 1916 and she sewed with it until the age of 102.

  2. #27
    Senior Member redbugsullivan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zelda2
    most old finishes that are original and are just lacquer(shellac), can be removed with just lacquer thinner, steel wool and rags. I did an entire buffet in about 3 hours and an entire closed sewing cabinet in about 1 1/2hrs. When removed, just wipe on your favorite finish (I like than wipeable poly satin varnish) and you're done. Much easier than messing with stripper, etc. I used to own a refinishing shop so have used this very often. Good luck!
    My husband convinced me to use the same thing with some of our old pieces and it worked amazingly well. Changing the procedure by having 2 coffee cans of lacquer thinner (one for "dirty" rinsing and the other for cleaning) sped up things and used fewer sections of steel wool. Patience is key. We LOVE the wipeable poly satin too. Not period correct but the finish is gorgeous and wears like a dream.

  3. #28
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redbugsullivan
    Quote Originally Posted by zelda2
    most old finishes that are original and are just lacquer(shellac), can be removed with just lacquer thinner, steel wool and rags. I did an entire buffet in about 3 hours and an entire closed sewing cabinet in about 1 1/2hrs. When removed, just wipe on your favorite finish (I like than wipeable poly satin varnish) and you're done. Much easier than messing with stripper, etc. I used to own a refinishing shop so have used this very often. Good luck!
    My husband convinced me to use the same thing with some of our old pieces and it worked amazingly well. Changing the procedure by having 2 coffee cans of lacquer thinner (one for "dirty" rinsing and the other for cleaning) sped up things and used fewer sections of steel wool. Patience is key. We LOVE the wipeable poly satin too. Not period correct but the finish is gorgeous and wears like a dream.
    Zelda has a very good technique for refinishing. It is quick and wipe on polystain is great. I have done this on refinishing new pieces and it is a nice looking finish. However, I would never use it on antique or vintage sewing cabinets or anttique furniture. When restoring and if I must refinish I will use historically correct products only. I try to keep the piece as original looking as I can. I always prefer to restore rather than refinish unfortunately refinishing is a must on many sewing cabinets. This is the trade I learned in Europe but this does not make it the only way and I like using the lacquer to refinish when I can. My recomendation has always been to do refinishing the way you like it. My techniques are to help you keep your sewing machine cabinets as original as possible and not degrade the historical value of the Cabinet. It is like my quilting just have fun!! Glenn

  4. #29
    Super Member cabbagepatchkid's Avatar
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    I just bought this little cabinet, today, from Craigslist, and it's in really nice shape but the wood is dry and some of the shellac (?) on the top is coming off, especially noticed this after I washed it with Murphy's Oil Soap. Do I need to remove all of the shellac, on the top, or can I just smooth it by sanding it gently?

    Before washing with Murphy's Oil Soap
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    Partially cleaned--wow!
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    Some of the flaking that was under the dirt
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  5. #30
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cabbagepatchkid
    I just bought this little cabinet, today, from Craigslist, and it's in really nice shape but the wood is dry and some of the shellac (?) on the top is coming off, especially noticed this after I washed it with Murphy's Oil Soap. Do I need to remove all of the shellac, on the top, or can I just smooth it by sanding it gently?
    Look at my post just above your post and you will see how I handle this. You will need to apply a matching stain with an artist brush and then apply several coats of shellac applied thinly to buld up th finish. This will not take long shellac dries in about 30 minutes. When completely dry buff with wax and 0000steel wool to blend the patch. Just make sure this finish is shellac. You can test by rubbing alcohol in a area you will not see and if the finish melts with the alcohol it is shellac. If not it is varnish or laquer. To test if it is laquer the finish will melt with lacquer thinner or acetone. If this does not work it is varnish then you use the same technique only using varnish. I hope this helps. If you take your time you will not not have to remove any finish. You can use Howard refinisher in the right color but this will cover thke patches only temp. and will have to be done again and again as the Howard will evaporate over time. Glenn

  6. #31
    Super Member damaquilts's Avatar
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    Glenn thanks for saying the Howards will evaporate. The friend that told me to use it never said anything about that. I wonder how long it takes. Well if it does it will give whoever gets my desk when I am gone a chance to refinish it properly. :-)

  7. #32
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    Thanks Glenn. Bookmarked this for later reference.

  8. #33
    Super Member JUNEC's Avatar
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    OMG - thanks

  9. #34
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    Thanks! I'm getting a treadle tomorrow from my new friend, Jan, and it needs to be worked on. I appreciate the heads up in how to start.

  10. #35
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    Thanks for all this info, Glenn. I just bought a model 128 with bentwood case. It's missing the veneer on one end. The whole case is quite dry with flaking shellac. Can I use the same procedure on it, or do you recommend something different?

  11. #36
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShirlinAZ
    Thanks for all this info, Glenn. I just bought a model 128 with bentwood case. It's missing the veneer on one end. The whole case is quite dry with flaking shellac. Can I use the same procedure on it, or do you recommend something different?
    Sorry I did not get back to you sooner but wife had to go to hospital. Yes you can use the same technique and you can piece new veneer where missing. If not to bad you do not have to refinish the whole. If it is oak you can get veneer from Lowes. If you want post pics and I will tell what needs to be done. Glenn

  12. #37
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    Glenn, I hope your wife is doing better. I set the case aside for a while - ran out of money for resto. I've done some wood work, but never applied veneer. I may PM you when I get ready to do it. Shirley

  13. #38
    Senior Member Summer Spice's Avatar
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    I have a 4 drawer treadle cabinet that needs all of this...
    A dear little machine in it I paid $40 for it. I will print this info and try to get to it this summer. Thank-you

  14. #39
    Super Member wvdek's Avatar
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    Glen, thanks for the tut. Your finish is more authentic and not as 'plastic' looking as some finishes today can be. My dad used to use this method for the projects he made and all have held up well for many years. I am thinking of redoing the cabinet my mothers machine is in because of all the scratches and wear spots. We shall see.

  15. #40
    Super Member mshawii's Avatar
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    Glenn, I private messaged you about two problems but I sure have gotten a lot of good ideas about how to start. I really appreciate your help. I think there will be a number of us that will be doing some refinishing. Not right now tho because it is raining cats and dogs and nothing would dry in this weather. Thanks! :thumbup: Jan

  16. #41
    Senior Member redbugsullivan's Avatar
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    Quick question, for some sections that have minimal damage to the finish, why not use lacquer thinner and 000 steel wool? It redistributes the finish and often times the color without having to redo an entire top (sides...). When dry, everything matches too!

    When using this technique, I've been able to avoid the entire strip and refinish process on some gorgeous treadle tables.

  17. #42
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redbugsullivan
    Quick question, for some sections that have minimal damage to the finish, why not use lacquer thinner and 000 steel wool? It redistributes the finish and often times the color without having to redo an entire top (sides...). When dry, everything matches too!

    When using this technique, I've been able to avoid the entire strip and refinish process on some gorgeous treadle tables.
    Yes you can do this but with denatured alcohol because the origianl finish was shellac and the alcohol is the natural sovent for it. Lacquer thinner is used on lacquer finishes. Lacquer solvent is acetone(fingernail polish remover). If your finish is lacquer this would be okay if shellac then alcohol. you can test the finish by swabbing a little lacqure thiner if it melts then it is lacquer . Try a little denatured alcohol if it melt then it is shellac. I hope this answered your question. Glenn

  18. #43
    Senior Member redbugsullivan's Avatar
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    Very helpful! I'll check it out on the New Home cabinet being fixed for my MIL. It is beautiful but was left in the rain at some point. The lacquer thinner allowed enough of the finish to come off that I could see the patent date! I thought some fool had painted a section dark brown.

  19. #44
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redbugsullivan
    Very helpful! I'll check it out on the New Home cabinet being fixed for my MIL. It is beautiful but was left in the rain at some point. The lacquer thinner allowed enough of the finish to come off that I could see the patent date! I thought some fool had painted a section dark brown.
    Usually if the finish is dark brown it is shellac. The lacquer thinner just may have cleaned some dirt a grime off. Do the test and use what the test indicates. I have a tut on cleaning and old finish and some solutions you can make to clean the finish. Look in the search for cleaning sewing machine cabinets and you will find two solutions to make to clean them with. This may be easier than using the solvent method. Glenn

  20. #45
    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
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    Thought I'd bring this back up to the top!!
    Thanks Glenn, for sharing your knowledge!
    One day, you'll only be a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.

    http://charleeturner.blogspot.com

  21. #46
    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
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    Here's the link to Glenn's cleaning tutorial!!

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/tutoria...s-t109859.html
    One day, you'll only be a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.

    http://charleeturner.blogspot.com

  22. #47
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    Thank you,Glenn and Charlee. The Redeye's cabinet will need some work.

  23. #48
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    I will be starting on a old treadle this weekend this will be very helpful, Thank you!

  24. #49
    Senior Member pinkberrykay's Avatar
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    Thanks for bringing this back to the top. I have a question, my treadle top has a thin layer of wood that is separating, how do I go about sealing back down???

  25. #50
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Glenn, could you share some info on how you tune up the treadles too?
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

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