Back in August, my brother called and said he saw a Singer machine in an interesting cabinet, with pencil legs at a garage sale. Did I want it?? Hmm. Pencil legs? How much? $35. Hmm, see if she'll take $30?. Yes, she'll take $30. Okay, give me a few minutes and I'll be over.
So, I get to the garage sale, and find this unique trapezoid shaped cabinet, and a vintage 15-91 machine, which dates to 1954. Both obviously need some work, but I'm happy with the price. Similar machines alone cost over $150 on Ebay, and although this needs some wiring work, the body is in great shape, and the decals are bright with very little wear.
We got it in the back of my Magnum, and then Dad helped me re-load it so I could get other things in the car, to go back to PA. At that time, I knew I didn't have time to work on the machine, so it was placed in my garage. I'll update later what I've been doing.
As the weather started to get colder, I knew I needed to get the machine in a more stable setting, so after a few tries, I got the machine out of the cabinet (with help at Pocono Sew & Vac) and they are cleaning and rewiring it, while I tackle the cabinet.
I asked a guy at Home Depot, who I've gotten good advice from before, what he thought about the wood. It almost looked like a veneer or laminate because of the depth of the finish and the scratches, but as we played with some sand paper and tested some stains, we realized it may just be a thick coating of some type of varnish. If the stripper chemical damaged a veneer, I would have problems trying to fix it. I decided to try the BIX wood stripper, and went to work on the damaged surface.
Here's how it looked before applying the stripper. You can see some of the PolyShades test colors. I picked the lower one, Antique Walnut. It seemed to match the red undertones of the back side of the top. (See the left section in the first photo, which is the underside of this piece).
The whole left side had no finish on it! I did some sanding to smooth it out. The right side has a horizontal crack in two places, and I opted to sand that, too. This wood seems thinner, so I'm more worried about using the BIX there. If I don't like how it looks, I'll find some pattern envelopes from the '50's and mod-podge them on. That will give the cabinet some period character! You can see how much damage there is. The back and front are just as bad.
So, after 2 applications of BIX, here's the sanded smooth top. Hours of sanding, with a detail sander as well as hand. Lots and lots of red sawdust. BUT, it's beautifully smooth.
And one coat of Polyshades but taken in the garage, without good light.
I have more sanding between coats, and at least 2 more coats to do on this. I need to strip the bottom of this piece, too, and work on the coats of the rest of the cabinet.
I enjoy doing things like this. I love seeing the wood grain come through, and it gives me satisfaction to take something so damaged and be able to restore it. I'm not perfect, but I'm always satisfied knowing I can do this. More to come!