Refinishing a Singer cabinet

The cabinet of the singer that I want to refinish appears to have a very thin laminate on the top. However, I'm not sure if I should remove and replace or remove completely and refinish the wood. It is in really bad shape as you can see in the photos. The machine is pretty rusty and so is the metal base. One of the drawers frame is broken and since I'm not a welder I'll have to completely take it apart and have someone else to to fix. Thanks for any advice.
Top of cabinet end. This is the worst part.
The flip top of cabinet.
Top of cabinet end
  14 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Nov 04, 2015
    I think that is going to be depended on how much time,effort , and money you want to put into the piece. So is of sentimental value than I would say fix the piece.
  • C.c. volpe C.c. volpe on Nov 04, 2015
    Scrape the veneer off, you can apply another sheet.,but ironically, the wood underneath is solid so you could also re-stain it.
  • Z Z on Nov 04, 2015
    Freida, it appears there's quite a bit of veneer missing in the first picture and loosening in the last picture. It's hard to see if there are missing pieces or just the finish is wore off in the middle picture. Personally I'd want to repair the veneer as the wood underneath is always a lesser grade.
  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Nov 04, 2015
    I've got one similar to this. You have to ask yourself: 'Worn but intact? or Improved but altered?' This will give you the answer. The veneer on mine is 99% there, but at originally there was a huge, elaborate golden decal across the top. This tells you just how important the sewing machine was in Victorian history (though it drove out thousands of talented hand-seamstresses to the factories, leaving a few behind to work harder and longer days for less money. Also, women who laboured to punch the eye out on manufactured needles usually went blind due to eyestrain in their 20's, resulting in abject poverty for those who did not marry). Although the decal is worn and now illegible, I just can't bring myself to remove it and refinish the cabinet; therefore the answer for me is 'worn, but intact'.
  • Isabelle Isabelle on Nov 05, 2015
    do the refinish. It is worth it. You will be glad you did in the future.
  • Alicia Alicia on Nov 06, 2015
    Mine looked like this,except maybe worse. I used wet towels and soaked the veneer with them for an hour or so, then steamed with steam iron before taking the towels off. This allowed me to literally peel the veneer off and it was ready for new veneer or refinish. I plan to paint mine with chalk paint. I am going to try finding a body shop that will sand blast the iron base.
  • Bron Bron on Nov 06, 2015
    I have seen one of these in a friends house. She completely removed the top and had a lovely piece of marble placed on it. It looked great. A bit expensive though :( Maybe if the towel idea doesn't work you may need to take the top off and replace it with another piece of wood. You may be able to find a table top to use as a replacement. Also there are products available from hardware stores that can clean up the metal. All the best I think it will look great once finished.
  • Becky Vaughn Becky Vaughn on Nov 07, 2015
    The wood under the veneer is usually better wood. Wet it and strip it. If you don't like it replace all the veneer
  • Jean Myles Jean Myles on Nov 08, 2015
    I also have a old singer machine I will be watching to see how yours turns out. I planed on removing the old veneer and adding new . The hard part for me is going to be matching the stain. Thinking it will take a few different colours . But its going to be great when done as the rest of it is in great shape. It is the machine I learned to sew on and 45 yrs later taking it back to its former glory is the least I can do. Good luck with your s
  • Deanna Mills Deanna Mills on Nov 09, 2015
    I believe that replacing the veneer is going to be tricky unless you have had a lot of experience with wood working. If I was you I think I would remove the veneer and refinish the wood under it. Best of luck and please keep us posted, we will all be wondering how its going...
  • Jean Luby Jean Luby on Nov 10, 2015
    I saw this done to an old old piece, all veneer was removed and wood underneath stained. I loved the look, very attractive without worrying about old veneer. It is sitting in my friend's living room everyone admires it.
  • Lagree Wyndham Lagree Wyndham on Nov 10, 2015
    We had one like this in family that also suffered through a hot house fire,,,it ended up at a professional restorers.
  • The Redesign Habit The Redesign Habit on Nov 11, 2015
    You probably will want to just remove the veneer here. I wouldn't try and replace it though. I would either just stain the wood that is underneath or if it is not looking good enough to stain, you can always paint with chalk paint or textured paint to get a great finish on not so great wood. Good luck!
  • Deborah Barandiaran Deborah Barandiaran on May 02, 2016
    I have refinished two Singer Sewing Machines and Cabinets. The pictures show a lot of work is needed. I stripped off the veneer and looked at the wood. It was boards pieced together, it didn't match the bottom of the lid which was in very good condition. I made a template out of cardboard. Cut veneer - which I had to do a lot of asking! Finally a friend had a piece in their stash. I glued it down with wood glue, then covered it with clear plastic wrap then weighed it down with a large flat board - cutting board, finally I used extra long clamps from Harbor Freight to secure it. It came out great.