Friday 11 May 2012

Varnishing the Singer Cabinet

I was wondering what to do about the sewing machine cabinet. 
The veneer is chipped in places but I decided against any major work on it.

I don't want the sewing machine to look new or pimped in any way, so I decided I'd give it a bit of an attack with the sander

I had no idea if the stains would come out, thinking they look pretty bad and must go quite deep

but thankfully no

and I'm quite impressed!!

For the rest of the cabinet, I gave it a quick rub down with 160 grade sandpaper, concentrating on the stains and suspicious marks.

I gave the whole cabinet a wipe down with a damp microfibre cloth and allowed it to dry before giving it a varnish.

The top got 3 coats of varnish, and still needs a final one 
I'll go back to that once I have finished plastering and painting the room it is going to live in

I was happy to use the varnish sparingly on the fronts of drawers and the side detail, just where it needed a little touch up on the dull parts.

The alternative was to strip down the whole cabinet to do it properly but I felt I would loose too much character doing that.

I'm really chuffed, she still looks like a little old lady.
But she has much more grace and dignity now.

The Nitty Gritty

  • Sander -  an orbital 1/3 sheet sander, we find it suits every job. Bought from (and branded) Wickes, we believe their power tools are made by Draper
  • Sewing Machine - 1923 Singer Treadle 15K in a 5 drawer cabinet. We got it for free through gumtree you might also try a local freecycle, they come up on eBay all the time too.
  • Varnish - Ronseal clear gloss varnish (I only bought a teeny tub, and still only used 1/3 of it)

  • I was Listening to
    Gosh, I've not done a music mention in a while.... I can't listen to much with the sander buzzing so loudly but while doing the varnishing on a bright sunny day I was listening to Jack Johnson Inbetween Dreams and chillaxing in a laid-back-hawaii-kind-of-a-way...... ahhhhhhhh!


    1. Wow that looks loads better..i love restoring old things but not to the point of to get back to a bomb site kitchen and start sorting it out for painting..

    2. That looks incredible. I am working on a White Treadle right now. Mine was in horrible shape when I got it . . . hoping to make it as beautiful as it once was!

    3. I have a water mark (never let anyone put a glass of water directly on your cabinet) on the top of my 1900 Treadle cabinet, now that I've seen how beautifully your cabinet came up with a sand, I'm wondering if a light sand just on the water mark would make it better, or worse. I'm not keen on re varnishing anything though. It's so hard to know what to do!

      Your cabinet turned out beautifully, you must be so happy with it!

      1. Thanks Andrea,

        I would guess, going purely on my own experience, that the water mark would easily sand out.... BUT... you will have to varnish afterwards otherwise you will leave the wood exposed to dust and dirt, and you will have an unsightly scuffed area on your cabinet.

        If I were you I'd lightly sand the whole of the top and re-varnish it with at least 2 coats.

        Alternatively, the use of a cunning pot-plant to hide the mark ;-)

        Hope that helps,


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