Refinishing a Sewing Cabinet

This sewing machine and cabinet was one of my yard sale finds one summer. I wanted something to put my new Elna in, so we bought this wooden cabinet for $20. I thought I'd just toss the machine out, after all, it didn't even have the foot pedal or electrical cord. I figured it was probably trashed beyond repair.

It turned out that the machine was in perfect working order, only needed a little bit of oil and a new foot pedal (which Kenmore happily sold me along with a new belt). The week after I bought this one and brought it home we found another cabinet with a larger table and adjustable bed that was better suited to holding my new machine. Fortunately that table did not have a sewing machine it in.

So I set this little beauty aside, used it as an occasional table and plant stand, then decided to do something about it. The wood veneer is very plain dark brown, scratched in several places, including the table top area where some budding young artist practiced drawing squares with a sharp object. To further enhance the experience, every time the table was moved one or more of the legs would fall off because of loose fitting hardware.

In October I took the machine head out of the cabinet (they generally unscrew from underneath) and took the metal hinges off the table top fold-out leaf with a large screwdriver. There were no knobs on the fake drawer panel in front -- they were long gone by the time I bought this.

I lightly sanded the existing finish to smooth down any rough edges and make it more receptive to new paint. Since I was painting, I didn't feel the need to remove the old finish completely. The wood veneer was not, in my opinion, worth saving.

After laying the various pieces out on newspaper I began spraying light coats of black paint. I'm not a professional with a spray can, so it took some getting used to and there are a few places where it dripped. That's okay, I bought lots of sandpaper.

I got on several good coats over a period of a couple of days, then the weather turned cold and I brought everything inside. I'm looking forward to finishing this when the weather warms up a bit.

Update, July 1997. I was able to do some painting this spring, between our unusually heavy rains and the onset of summer heat. In amongst all my other projects, I'm slowly getting this worked on. I hope to be able to finish the painting this fall when the weather cools down again, and go on to do the floral appliques and other decorations indoors this fall or winter. I'll add more pictures when I get to that point, as right now there isn't much visible difference between one coat of paint and three...

Update, July 1999. I am the world's best procrastinator. Since packing up and moving the cabinet has continued to lack attention. My husband discovered the hinged top of the table and is using it to support the servers that run our web sites... Perhaps some day I will have space to set up and finish this...

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This page last updated on: Tuesday, December 10, 1996.