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  • refinishing sewing machine cabinets

    Old 02-07-2011, 04:01 PM
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    Join Date: Mar 2010
    Location: Huntsville, AL
    Posts: 2,609

    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
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    Old 02-07-2011, 05:33 PM
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    Join Date: Sep 2009
    Location: Massachusetts, USA
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    I've got a couple of treadle cabinets that need some help. Thanks for starting this tutorial!!! :thumbup:
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    Old 02-07-2011, 06:10 PM
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    Please use face mask, safety glasses and gloves, Glenn
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    Old 02-07-2011, 06:12 PM
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    Join Date: Feb 2010
    Location: Ohio
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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!
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    Old 02-07-2011, 06:26 PM
    Cindy Lou Who's Avatar
    Join Date: Aug 2007
    Location: West Virginia
    Posts: 96

    This is great!! Thanks so much for taking the time to do it. We all appreciate it for future use.

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    Old 02-07-2011, 06:45 PM
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    Location: Indiana
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    Thanks Glenn. I will bookmark this for later.
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    Old 02-07-2011, 07:14 PM
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    Thank you Glenn!
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    Old 02-07-2011, 08:33 PM
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    Location: Rescue, California
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    Love it, thank you so much. I have it bookmarked and saved!

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    Old 02-08-2011, 03:29 AM
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    Location: SE Alabama
    Posts: 821

    WOW Thanks Glenn...been wanting to refinsh my cabinet...Now I don't have to look up how to do it...Thanks again
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    Old 02-08-2011, 04:59 AM
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    Location: walking the yellow brick road
    Posts: 118

    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!
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