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Thread: refinishing sewing machine cabinets

  1. #51
    Super Member callen's Avatar
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    These are wonderful instructions for re-finishing the cabinets but does anyone have instructions for cleaning up & refurbishing vintage machines (referring to the machine finishes). I have cleaned mine, rubbed it down with sewing machine oil & it still doesn't look as good as I would like. Parts of the finish have lost their lustre & the sewing machine oil has helped but maybe there are other things I could use. Any suggestions? I have looked at Muv & Fav tuts & followed them but it still needs some additonal TLC. My machines have no rust but have lost some of their "joie de vivre" LOL. HELP!!!
    Dance like no one is watching

  2. #52
    Super Member Caroline S's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkberrykay View Post
    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???
    I will be attempting my woodworking skill sets this summer when the weather allows me to work in the garage. Most every cabinet that I have has some areas where the veneer has lifted or has been damaged. Thanks for asking the question.
    Sweet Caroline

  3. #53
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Glenn, I have a cabinet from a White 77 that I'm contemplating refinishing. I saw your list as to what to get and use, but I wanted to post some photos to see if they are applicable to this table. This table has a gloss on it (on the inside) that I imagine is the original finish and the outside is just worn and dull now. But, I don't know if it's a shellac, laquer or?? Truth be told, I'm not overly in love with the color (kind of a honey) as I would prefer a dark walnut color, but I'll take your recommendations as what to use for the color... One thing I don't care for with this cabinet is that it is HEAVY. I think it's solid wood, unlike the veneers I'm used to seeing on Singer cabinets. This White also doesn't have a spring opening support arm, so when the top sides flip open the weight pulls on the hinges. I'd appreciate your opinion on what I should use (products) for this specific table. Thanks much!
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  4. #54
    Super Member AZ Jane's Avatar
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    This definitely needs to be a Sticky!!
    Better to do something imperfectly, than nothing perfectly.
    Done is better than perfect.

  5. #55
    Senior Member Ccorazone's Avatar
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    I had to replace a lot of the old, ragged, peeling, beaten up veneer on my 1913 cabinet. I am now trying to match the color on the new veneer to the patina on the old parts. Trial and error on scrap new veneer until I think it is close enough.. Like others, I worked in a shop that restored antiques, however, I did not work in the area that re-did the finish.. So mine is trial and error in trying to match colors..

  6. #56
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkberrykay View Post
    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???
    Thin out some wood glue so it wil flow under the loose veneer, but a layer of wax paper down and the place a flat board on top to cover the loose piece of veneer. I use 3/4 inch plywood for this and them clamp it down or place a heavy weight on top like bricks and let cure for 24 hours. This should solve you problem with the loose veneer
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  7. #57
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Candace, first we need to find out what the finish is. Use denatured alcohol in a place where is will not be noticeable. If the finsih melts and get tacky is shellac. If it does not it is not shellac. Next try acetone and if it melts the finish is laquer. I this doe not work is varnish or poly( oilbased) Varnish and poly are hard if not impossible to repair and will need to be stripped off. So lets find out what the finish is first and then we can go from there.
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  8. #58
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ccorazone View Post
    I had to replace a lot of the old, ragged, peeling, beaten up veneer on my 1913 cabinet. I am now trying to match the color on the new veneer to the patina on the old parts. Trial and error on scrap new veneer until I think it is close enough.. Like others, I worked in a shop that restored antiques, however, I did not work in the area that re-did the finish.. So mine is trial and error in trying to match colors..
    Even for wood refinishers it is trail error
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  9. #59
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miriam View Post
    Glenn, could you share some info on how you tune up the treadles too?
    Miriam are you talking about the iron and fly wheel? then there are several thing that can be done.
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  10. #60
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    Miriam are you talking about the iron and fly wheel? then there are several thing that can be done.
    Yes. Just don't get in a hurry. I'm not. I'm up to my butt in sewing machines. This last haul is overwhelming. Glenn, you should see some of the cabinets. VERY cool.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  11. #61
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    Thank you for the lovely tutorial. We can all use this information.
    Donna Quilts
    We help the wounded soldiers.

  12. #62
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    Candace, first we need to find out what the finish is. Use denatured alcohol in a place where is will not be noticeable. If the finsih melts and get tacky is shellac. If it does not it is not shellac. Next try acetone and if it melts the finish is laquer. I this doe not work is varnish or poly( oilbased) Varnish and poly are hard if not impossible to repair and will need to be stripped off. So lets find out what the finish is first and then we can go from there.
    Thanks, Glenn. I will try the alcohol first as I know I have some. I'll report back.

  13. #63
    Super Member Christine-'s Avatar
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    I'm refinishing the cabinet for a Belvedere Adler I bought last weekend. It has a thick coat of latex paint on top of nicotine, decades worth from the smell of it, and then shellac. I'm using the Citristrip and it's taking all 3 layers off at once. I like the Citristrip, it has little odor and it does a good job if I remember to goop it on. I always spread it too thin and end up putting more on later.
    The wood is just gorgeous underneath! I'll use Briwax to finish it because I intend to use this machine a lot.
    Bernina 640, Singer 201-3, Singer Centennial 15-91, Tin Lizzie 26" long arm

  14. #64
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Glenn, I tried a small area with rubbing alcohol as it's all I had and nothing...so I tried a small area with acetone and it became tacky and the the finish started coming off. So I guess this means it's laquer? What would be my options with a laquer finish?

  15. #65
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candace View Post
    Glenn, I tried a small area with rubbing alcohol as it's all I had and nothing...so I tried a small area with acetone and it became tacky and the the finish started coming off. So I guess this means it's laquer? What would be my options with a laquer finish?
    Yes you have lacquer. You options are to sand it down smooth and spray a new coat of lacquer. I you don't like the honey finish you can strip it down stain it in the color o choice and then use shellac or any other finish you like. I recomend if you strip it use shellac it is easier to repair if need be.
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  16. #66
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Cabinet

    Quote Originally Posted by Christine- View Post
    I'm refinishing the cabinet for a Belvedere Adler I bought last weekend. It has a thick coat of latex paint on top of nicotine, decades worth from the smell of it, and then shellac. I'm using the Citristrip and it's taking all 3 layers off at once. I like the Citristrip, it has little odor and it does a good job if I remember to goop it on. I always spread it too thin and end up putting more on later.
    The wood is just gorgeous underneath! I'll use Briwax to finish it because I intend to use this machine a lot.
    I would apply a coat or two of shellac before the briwax
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  17. #67
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    Yes you have lacquer. You options are to sand it down smooth and spray a new coat of lacquer. I you don't like the honey finish you can strip it down stain it in the color o choice and then use shellac or any other finish you like. I recomend if you strip it use shellac it is easier to repair if need be.
    Thanks, Glenn.

  18. #68
    Super Member cabbagepatchkid's Avatar
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    I'm glad that this has been revived. The weather is getting good enough that I'm so-o ready to try Glenn's recipe on some of the old treadle cabinets that I've been collecting. Maybe a trip to Home Depot is on my list of things to do today.
    ~~Cathy~~

  19. #69
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    Hi, I have been reading numerous posts for awhile and have started refinishing a treadle cabinet. I am at the shellac stage and wonder since it dries so fast and I have to keep a wet edge, would it be best to do this on a humid day? I live in OK and most days during this time of year are humid. I realize it would probably take longer to dry between coats and to cure longer than a week, if it is real humid. Is there anything I can do to keep it wet on these very windy and hot days? Thanks to Glenn and all those who have such detailed instructions on how to care for and beautify these lovely old machines and cabinets.

  20. #70
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nino View Post
    Hi, I have been reading numerous posts for awhile and have started refinishing a treadle cabinet. I am at the shellac stage and wonder since it dries so fast and I have to keep a wet edge, would it be best to do this on a humid day? I live in OK and most days during this time of year are humid. I realize it would probably take longer to dry between coats and to cure longer than a week, if it is real humid. Is there anything I can do to keep it wet on these very windy and hot days? Thanks to Glenn and all those who have such detailed instructions on how to care for and beautify these lovely old machines and cabinets.
    You really should not apply shellac in very humid weather it can turn white on you. You can apply shellac with a rag with a little lineseed oil on the rag with the shellac and wipe it on the finish.
    Glenn W. Cleveland

  21. #71
    Senior Member pinkCastleDH's Avatar
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    Glenn, is there any need to soften the veneer before trying to reattach it? I hadn't realized before this thread that shellac was being used for commercial finishes for that long but I'm glad - I'd much rather muck around with shellac than lacquer and I'd much, much, much rather work with it than varnish (particularly working against an existing finish!)

  22. #72
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    First picture here shows my cabinet, but not theworst spot which is the top, the veneer is cracked, peeling, missing and moldy.I was wondering what would be the best thing to use on the mold and how youwould remove the veneer. I have someveneer that my hubby said he would help me replace. The rest of the cabinet is in decent shape sojust needs a good cleaning. There aresome chips on the edges here and there that I am not real worried about. I might use the veneer that comes off the topto fix those. I might need to reglue the draws because they wiggle a bit, I think someone picked it up useing those. I think the only thing this set is missing is the belt which I have already replaced, it is just waiting for it to be cleaned up before I put it on.




    The machine needs a good cleaning; it looks likeall the oil used on the machine hasgotten on it and turned yellow and sticky. With all the decals on it I was worried aboutwhat I could use to clean it and make it shine again. What would you suggest?

  23. #73
    Super Member J Miller's Avatar
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    Kat,

    To reiterate what I said on your other post and add to it, here's a few more comments. But no mater what I say or do, I'd suggest listening to Skip if he says different.

    White vinegar kills and cleans off mold. So does bleach. Don't float the wood in it, just wipe it down good and let it dry. Also if you let the wood dry and air out from where ever it was, it will eventually loose the moldy smell.

    If the old veneer is almost completely detached you can gently work it off with a thin blade, I use a hacksaw blade. Go in from every angle and pry up gently as you push the blade in. That way you can get most if not all of the old veneer off. Less sanding and surface prep if you can get the old stuff off completely.

    I am no expurt by any means, but from the little I see there, I'd use the hacksaw blade or credit card to get the glue under the layers of veneer and then clamp and or weight it down. Then when all the loose pieces are glued, use an exacto blade and carefully square up the area where the piece is missing and graft in a patch. Keep the grain the same direction, then stain the patch to match the original parts. After that perhaps a coat of shellac and then some wax.
    I have done that a bunch lately and if done carefully it doesn't look that bad and sometimes just disappears.

    Joe

  24. #74
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    Just wait a few days - Glenn is off catching fish somewhere - he will be back soon.
    NEVER let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.
    good mothers let you lick the beaters - great mothers turn it off first

  25. #75
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    Thank you both Joe and Miriam,

    Joe, I didn't see you post anything about getting rid of the mold, guess I missed that part of your post. I should get a picture of the very top of this cabinet to post because the veneer is so bad I think I should take it off and replace it or maybe just not put anything over the solid wood. And when I found this thread I thought I would get Glenn's opinion because I see that he has been doing this to quite a few things and I bet he knows some tips and short cuts. But then all the help I get is great, I have not refinished many pieces of wood furniture, so Thank you Joe.

    Miriam, I hope Glenn is catching a few trophy fish, my project can wait, I am in the middle of making things for my Halloween party which is just around the corner and the "White" can wait until even after the holidays if it needs to. I am in no big hurry I have waited and waited to get a Treadle Sewing Machine of my own I can wait to put her in the house.

    I will have to get a close-up picture of the top just to show how bad it really is, this picture was only so I could do research on the internet.

    Thanks again for the info
    Kat

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