Friday, October 31, 2014

No Miracles

The lovely Singer 66 sewing machine with cabinet and stool/bench from my last post is just too nice to leave in the garage. Besides, it's no longer balmy out, getting downright cold in Minnesota, so as much comes inside as possible. The Singer 66 is all cleaned up, wired, and sewing perfectly so now the cabinet gets a spa treatment, too. As I look it over I can see the top certainly could be stripped of it's finish, stained, and given multiple coats of polyurethane. But maybe I won't have to do all of that this time. Even though it's in pretty rough shape, I think I can use a restoration product and get satisfactory results. Lately I have been using Howard's Restor-a-Finish to get fairly good results but each piece needs to be evaluated for the likelihood of those results. There is a caution on the can that says you cannot use polyurethane after using Howard's but I think that means right on top of it: I would strip off the finishes and sand down to bare wood but let's hope I don't have to go that far. Most refinishers would agree that products like this are for items that are not in too bad of shape, just needing a bit of cleaning and some scratch removal. If there is more extensive damage, with parts of the finish missing or bubbled up, it needs to be stripped to get good results. This product is like a very mild stripper, softening the surface for you to wipe it around to cover up scratches and other mild marks. First I apply a scratch remover, Old English in this case, that gives a bit of the stain back to those scratches. Then I use very fine steel wool, 0000, to apply the Howard's.

Step one: scratch remover then Howard's
The hard part is to wait for the chemical to soften the surface finish. I have to walk away, tidying up some other area of the basement or I will wreck it! Twenty to 30 minutes later I come back and work on the spots that are more problematic:

Step 2: moving the softened finish around
Not perfect but pretty good, using the steel wool quite hard in some spots in hopes of getting a smoother result. It works to some extend but there are no miracles:

Step 3: wipe down and let dry 30 minutes
Since I have to wait around I decide to look at the stool that I brought in later. Not too bad but it needs a finish of something to clean and restore it, too. After the 30 minute wait on the cabinet, I apply their Feed-N-Wax, which I secretly love. Okay, it's not a secret anymore, but you should try some of this stuff. It's like a waxy oil, kinda clumpy, but goes on nice. I let it also wait while I wipe down the stool legs, clean the leatherette seat cover, finally going back to polish off anything that didn't soak in. Here's the before and after:

Singer 66 cabinet before

Singer 66 cabinet after
Such nice details on this little cabinet with that front tip-out drawer and angled veneer for a special touch of craftsmanship. If you sat down and looked at it , not just at these photos, you can see it's not perfectly smooth but we also have to admit this is an old piece of furniture: maybe it doesn't have to look new!

Here's the inside with the same procedure:
Hard to see the "bald" spot

Looking good!

Note bald spot, now a bit less obvious
There was also a bit of a concern about getting the foot control and wires back through the hole but I took the male 3 prong plug attached to the machine, opened it up, pulled off the foot control wires, fed through the hole, reconnected everything: 5 minutes of work for this custom look:

Made for the wires to keep tidy?
Now it's done and ready for...sewing? sale? Who knows where she will end up but she was well taken care of in her last home and will be again in her new home.


BarbaraShowell said...

Wow! I have been satisfied with my old cabinets as-is, but golly this post is inspirational! Not right now, though....

Karen said...

But it really doesn't take much time! Far quicker than a true refinishing so maybe you could do just one?