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Thread: refinishing sewing machine cabinets

  1. #1
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Okay quilters here we go!
    Supplies needed:
    0000steel wool
    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
    putty knife
    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

  2. #2
    Super Member cabbagepatchkid's Avatar
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    I've got a couple of treadle cabinets that need some help. Thanks for starting this tutorial!!! :thumbup:

  3. #3
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Please use face mask, safety glasses and gloves, Glenn

  4. #4
    Power Poster sueisallaboutquilts's Avatar
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    Glenn, great post!
    I think it should be in the virtual machine shop though, maybe not.
    I did a complete tear-down and reassembly of a 66 Redeye there.
    Thank you!

  5. #5
    Member Cindy Lou Who's Avatar
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    Glenn,
    This is great!! Thanks so much for taking the time to do it. We all appreciate it for future use.

    Cindy

  6. #6
    Super Member KatFish's Avatar
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    Thanks Glenn. I will bookmark this for later.

  7. #7
    Super Member vintagemotif's Avatar
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    Thank you Glenn!

  8. #8
    Super Member BoJangles's Avatar
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    Love it, thank you so much. I have it bookmarked and saved!

    Nancy

  9. #9
    Senior Member didi's Avatar
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    WOW Thanks Glenn...been wanting to refinsh my cabinet...Now I don't have to look up how to do it...Thanks again

  10. #10
    Junior Member zelda2's Avatar
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    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!

  11. #11
    Senior Member olebat's Avatar
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    A good work over with a degreaser, and a scratch cover polish usually works for me. I've recently acquired an old cabinet which has some bad water rings on the surface. I'm not ready to refinish the entire cabinet, I rather like the original look. However, I would like to get rid of the water rings. Which aspect of this technique will best achieve that?

  12. #12
    Senior Member Greyhound Mom's Avatar
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    Hi, Make sure there is ventilation-method sounds right-lot of hard work, but comes out nice!

  13. #13
    Super Member damaquilts's Avatar
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    or for us really lazy, or unable to do the harder things. There is Howard restor-a-finish. This is what I did to a sewing machine desk I have. I no longer have the energy or the strength to do a full out strip and refinish. It doesn't look new but it is fine with me. It looks much much better.

    before
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    after
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  14. #14
    Senior Member olebat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by damaquilts
    or for us really lazy, or unable to do the harder things. There is Howard restor-a-finish. This is what I did to a sewing machine desk I have. I no longer have the energy or the strength to do a full out strip and refinish. It doesn't look new but it is fine with me. It looks much much better.
    Looks like my local Home Depot carries this. I'll give it a try. TY

  15. #15
    Junior Member GrandmaLola's Avatar
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    Thanks so much Glen! Now I just have to get the energy to START!

  16. #16
    Senior Member Anna.425's Avatar
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    I love refinishing furniture. I have a cabinet that is structurally sound but the finish is in really bad shape. I am going to strip it and then my DD, the talented artist, is going to paint a landscape on it as though it were a canvas.

  17. #17
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anna.425
    I love refinishing furniture. I have a cabinet that is structurally sound but the finish is in really bad shape. I am going to strip it and then my DD, the talented artist, is going to paint a landscape on it as though it were a canvas.
    I would love to see pics when DD finishes the painting on the cabinet. It souns like it will be beautiful. Glenn

  18. #18
    Senior Member susanwilley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by damaquilts
    or for us really lazy, or unable to do the harder things. There is Howard restor-a-finish. This is what I did to a sewing machine desk I have. I no longer have the energy or the strength to do a full out strip and refinish. It doesn't look new but it is fine with me. It looks much much better.
    That stuff is amazing! Did you have to sand? Can you tell me how it works? I have to treadles that I wasn't going to refinish but if it is as easy as it sounds and does THAT. I just might give it a try!

  19. #19
    Super Member damaquilts's Avatar
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    It really is easy. no sanding. just follow the instructions on the can. All you need is steel wool. And its fast.
    The drawbacks are : not all the marks go away they can still be seen just dark instead of light. And you cannot put a shiny finish on it. And there are only 3 colors. At least thats all my Home Depot had Walnut, Dark Walnut and Mahogany.

  20. #20
    Super Member ssgramma's Avatar
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    Look for the Howard's at antique stores. Those that carry it usually have a better selection of colors.

  21. #21
    Super Member annette1952's Avatar
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    Thanks Glen!

  22. #22
    Dee
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    Great tute. Thanks for sharing.

  23. #23
    Super Member quilt addict's Avatar
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    Thanks Glen! I want to get started on some cabinets and now with this I think I am confident enough to give it a try. It will be book marked.

  24. #24
    Super Member Glenn's Avatar
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    I want to show you what can be done with a little stain and shellac. Aniline dye (alcohol soluble) You can order this from Rockler or any good woodworker cat. You can also order the water soluble anilind dye I mentioned in the refinishing a cabinet above. I usually order the brown walnut for the oak and the walnut cabints. Mix the dye with denatured alcohol as stated in the instructions on the dye. Pour a cup in a container and add two or three table spoons orange shellac to the stain and stir well. Clean the bad area with turps and wipe lightly with a rag with little alcohol. Just swipe the area lightly. Use a mall brush an paint the mixture on the bad spot thinly. Do this several times until it matches the surrounding area. Rub down the brush strokes if any with 0000steel wool and wax to blend.

    Finish worn from sewing (before)
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    Stain applied to worn area
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    After buffing with wax and steel wool
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  25. #25
    Super Member damaquilts's Avatar
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    That looks really nice Glenn. And that Red eye is gorgeous.

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