Treadle Sewing Machine Cabinet Repair

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12 Hours
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When her father passed away, my son's fiancee had the painful task of going through his belongings. When she discovered this sewing machine that belonged to her grandmother in the attic, she asked me if I could fix it for her.
We both agreed, being a family owned piece, it should remain antique looking for memory purposes.
antique treadle sewing machine cabinet repair and upcycle, how to, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
It was missing the front drawer. (By looking inside of the structure, I could tell it was a single drawer.) It very well may have been a flip open as most were. The space allowed is narrow, because of the way the sewing machine lays when inside the cabinet.
It was also missing the two side drawers and its framework on the right.
antique treadle sewing machine cabinet repair and upcycle, how to, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
antique treadle sewing machine cabinet repair and upcycle, how to, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
The top cover had a lot of veneer damage, right down to the under wood. It was also age stained.
antique treadle sewing machine cabinet repair and upcycle, how to, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
Luckily, I had some parts from a previous treadle machine upcycle I worked on:
antique treadle sewing machine cabinet repair and upcycle, how to, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
I could utilize the drawer framework and the front from my salvaged project for the missing parts.
The not so lucky parts:
I didn't have the extra side drawers.
I scrounged around everywhere on Ebay and Craigslist for some, thinking I'd buy four to make them all match, or even just two and make them match, but didn't find the right size, nor did I have the time for Ebay bidding, shipping and repairs in time to surprise Emily for Christmas. Thinking she would appreciate having this during her first Christmas without her father, I really wanted to have it done.
After several crazy drawer ideas swirling in my head, the best one hit me, why not cut into the existing drawer frame to divide the drawers to go on to each side of the cabinet? They would be original, but modified.
antique treadle sewing machine cabinet repair and upcycle, how to, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
I cleaned and painted the iron.
antique treadle sewing machine cabinet repair and upcycle, how to, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
Cut off the frame work on the left.
antique treadle sewing machine cabinet repair and upcycle, how to, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
And built the frame on the right side of the cabinet.
antique treadle sewing machine cabinet repair and upcycle, how to, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
Added the leftover pieces from my salvaged parts: Two front pieces and a swing drawer.
antique treadle sewing machine cabinet repair and upcycle, how to, painted furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
Kept the machine antique by sanding and conditioning the wood. Painted the drawer pulls to match the iron.
And there was an elated Granddaughter. She loved the modification and was happy to have her heirloom restored.
Robin @ Redo It Yourself Inspirations

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

7 questions
  • Cheryln Howard
    on Jul 11, 2016

    i cannot open the cabinet all the way. something seems to be stopping it. What can I do without breaking it?

  • Christine
    on Aug 28, 2016

    I have acquired an antique Liberty sewing machine and upper cabinet complete with drawers. Its in fairly good condition. Have been looking for a matching metal base (legs w/treadle) with no luck, many Singer bases are available but want to keep all cohesive. Any suggestions where to look?

    • Best bet is yard sales, barn sales, and places like Craigslist. Online auctions almost always have them. It may be helpful to post in the "wanted" section of Craigslist for your search. Sometimes luck will land you a nice deal posting "ISO" (In Search Of: Singer Sewing Machine Base) . Hope you find one! Best of luck~

  • Joyce
    on Jan 1, 2017

    What did you do about the top cover where there was veneer damage? I have the same machine and case, The only problem I have is the top.

  • Trista
    on Feb 6, 2017

    I have an old 1905 white treadle. The cabinet needs some repair that I am not sure where to start. The lid broke on my way home but I'm not sure it gluing it back together will hold. The tension wire also could use a new on. Not sure how the repair. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    , Clean break, All the weight is on the large part of the lids not the hinge, The moves rough as the cable is bent Will not allow the front to fall all the way forward when closed, Center all intact only the top of the lid is missing it
  • Patty Kay Hall
    on Aug 10, 2017

    Hi Robin, Your cabinet turned out to be beautiful. I just acquired a cabinet made of oak, already stripped, that looks very similar to yours in its shape and drawer carving designs. My cabinet has no markings or sewing machine so I have no idea about what company might have manufactured it. I think I read that you have a sewing machine to go with it and I am wondering what the company is so I can maybe get a machine to go in the cabinet. My cabinet has 3 drawers down each side and three in the middle but the carvings are nearly identical. Thankyou for any information you are willing to offer. I have been unable to find anything that looks similar but had a great hit here on Pinterest. :) Patty

    • Hi Patty,
      The restored cabinet was a "Ruby" sewing machine and cabinet. The "parts" sewing machine cabinet had no markings, but when I considered restoring it, an old "Singer" machine did fit. But, it would have needed some frame modifications to enclose it into the cabinet. (I still have that machine, but it isn't in working order.) I bought yet another sewing machine cabinet without a machine that only needs refinishing and I plan on placing my modern (circa 1980) sewing machine into it by modifying the framework from the top. The treadle machines have attachment areas on the base of them, usually two to four screw/bolts through their bottom sides to attach to the hinged interior frame. To change it out, measuring and cutting oak to fit the original frame to accommodate the replacement machine will take a little work, but will be worth it. I haven't worked on the latest cabinet yet, but when I do, I'll tag it here with the instructions so you can follow along. I wish I could be more help and will keep you in mind.

    • Patty Kay Hall
      on Sep 30, 2017

      Thank you, so much! I'm no word worker so I'll probably just stick with the refinishing part. :) Can I ask what you used to finish the wood (I"m not sure if that's the right term) Thankyou again :) Patty

  • Linda sullivan
    on Apr 26, 2018

    i have this type of machine cabinet too . The veneer is splitting away from the top and edges of machine. How did you remove the veneer with out damaging the wood under it?

    • I layed a wet towel over the veneer. Once the remaining veneer started to get damp and ripple, I removed it with a putty knife. Most came off, but it took a few attempts, using a wet towel to eventually a damp towel so the oak underneath didn't get damaged.

  • Emma Bowker
    on Aug 17, 2018

    Hi


    Stunning transformation through a lot of attention to detail work and of course plenty of love!


    Could you tell me how you cleaned the piece and, after sanding, what wood conditioner did you use?


    Thanks

    • For the wood, I didn't actually clean it, I sanded every part of it. Then conditioned it with coconut oil. It works so well on wood.


      To clean the iron, I used dish soap with very hot water and brushes. Towel dried, then air dried. Thank you!

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