Old Sewing Cabinet Gets Re-purposed

12 Materials
10 Hours

I came across a 1959 sewing cabinet (minus the machine) online for $15.

So I picked it up and gave it a makeover, to be used as extra storage and surface space.


The veneer on the cabinet top was damaged. And when you opened up/folded back the top, there was a big hole, where the sewing machine sat originally.  

So the first thing I did was go to Home Depot and buy pine wood and have them cut it to the exact same sizes as the two original fold out pieces.

Pine for new top

Then I removed the two originals from the cabinet, flipped them over and attached the new pine wood to the original top, using the existing hinges.   

The hardest part of this project for me, was notching out holes to sink the hinges down into the new wood. I did some research and apparently the best tool to do this is a router. Which I do not have! (But guess what I've asked Santa/mommy for this year? lol) 

So I used what I had, a hammer and a chisel. It was a bit of a hack job. But I was able to get the job done.  

New pieces attached to the old

I used wood filler to cover the hinge notches that were on the cabinet itself. I only did the outside edges as the inside would not be visible once I re-attached the top. 

I also removed the handle from the door and filled those holes with wood filler.

Filled the gaps on the outer edges

I then added castors to the bottom.

For the inside of the cabinet I wanted to create shelves. 

I had two pieces of pine wood on hand, but they were not deep enough to reach the back. So I found a piece of laminated material in my scrap pile the same thickness and decided to use that as a filler piece at the back of the bottom shelf. Even though it was glossy and white, I though it might make a neat contrast up against the wood once it was stained a dark colour.

Materials for my shelves

I noticed after a couple of days the pine wood was starting to warp slightly. Probably because it was cold and damp in the garage and the wood was unsealed. So I brought everything inside to finish it up. I placed something heavy on the wood and the warps went away, thankfully!

I glued the original top to the cabinet. Then clamped it and left it to dry overnight. Once dry I added screws, going from inside the cabinet up into the top.

Original top glued and screwed

Then I sanded everything lightly and stained the pine top and shelves using a dark walnut gel stain. I applied it with an old t-shirt. 

Once dry I applied stain sealer, using a foam brush.

Dark walnut stain

I screwed the bottom shelf peices into place. I flipped the cabinet on it's back and screwed from the bottom up.

Then I painted the cabinet a light grey. The little indents on the sides of the drawers (for opening them) I left the original brown.

I didn't like how the white filler piece in the bottom shelf looked at all! So I applied the same gel stain using a little chip brush. I was amazed how well it worked!! It took about 3 minutes to do and made a huge difference to the overall look!  

Gel stain rocks!

Then the final step was to apply a re-design transfer to the front. I had received it as a gift and thought it would really make this piece pop. My 9 year old daughter and I applied the transfer together, following the instructions. 

I had never used a transfer before and loved the effect! No plastic outlines like there are with decals. Up close it actually looks like it’s been painted on! LOVE!!

I found an old antique door pull in my garage and used that instead of the original.

And here it is...after it’s makeover!  


This empty shell has been transformed into a pretty functional piece.

A great piece for additional kitchen storage/counter space or as a bar cart for entertaining!!

If anyone has one of these old sewing cabinets cast aside and taking up space, hopefully this inspires you to dust it off and make it functional again! :)

Resources for this project:

Bore Du Vin redesign Transfer
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Annie
    on Dec 3, 2019

    Yes please my question is the same how did you fill the hole where the sewing machine was love your look

  • Terry
    on Dec 4, 2019

    This looks gorgeous!! When you glued the original top down, was that to cover the sewing machine hole? Nice job truly with what you had on hand!

    • Valerie Burge
      on Dec 4, 2019

      Thank you Terry!

      And yes, the original fold out pieces I glued over the top of the cabinet to cover the hole. And also to create a solid base for the new fold out pieces.

  • Lynda Slocum
    on Dec 11, 2019

    Nicely done

Join the conversation

4 of 77 comments
  • Waneta Jo Lind Wanous
    on Dec 16, 2019

    WOW simply lovely. I have a couple of old machine tables, and I think that I'm going to do one or maybe both with this idea. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Chrystal S. Green
    on Dec 22, 2019

    I showed this to a friend who has been overwrought about what to do with an old sewing cabinet of her grandmother's that she inherited. Her husband wanted her to donate it but now she plans to keep it and was in tears she was so grateful! Thank you for this. Your post helped someone save a family heirloom

    • Jamie Tyler Smith
      on Jan 2, 2020

      I've also seen them done into coolers by inserting a plastic tote into the hole. She could make it for her husbands father's day present and he wouldn't dare get rid of it. LOL

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