DIY Antique Desk From Vintage Singer Sewing Machines

Laura Kennedy
by Laura Kennedy
5 Materials
1 Day
I saw one of these a few years back but it was well out of my price range. I patiently waited until I was able to find two matching sewing machine bases so I could make one of my own.
The first step is to find two matching antique sewing machines with their bases. The cast iron legs are easily removable from the sewing machine tops. There are four screws in each, just unscrew them from the tops and remove the sewing machines.

Save the screws if they are in good shape. They are usually over 100 years old and vintage. We reused ours when we fastened the desktop to the bases.
I opted to build a thick chunky wooden top to balance out the intricate iron legs. We used 4x4 untreated cedar, but any 4x4 wood would work, just make sure it is untreated wood.

Cut eight 4×4’s to 59 inches.

We wanted the desktop to look old and worn. So we damaged the wood with anything we could find that would add dings and gouges.

If you don’t want your boards to look old, skip this step.
Attach 6 of the posts to each other one at a time using the lag bolts and carpenter’s glue. To ensure the boards don’t split, drill a pilot-hole. Use a one-inch spade bit to start your hole and go in one-half inch.
Use a 1/4 drill bit to go all the way through your 4x4.
Counter-sink it so that the posts sit flush together. 3-4 lag bolts per post should hold it firmly. Don’t worry too much about measuring out where they go – just move the hole an inch or two for each post, so that your bolts don’t run into each other.
Use a socket wrench to sink your lag blots so the next 4x4 will attach flush.

Attach the two remaining posts to the ‘front’ and ‘back’ edges of the desktop, similar to how you connected the previous ones. Because these bolts are going to remain visible, you don’t need to counter-sink them, just drill a pilot hole.

You can put them wherever you think they look best. We put them at 4.5 and 14 inches from the end so that they sit right above the bases. You can see them in the photo above.

We spray painted ours with Rustoleum Hammered Metal before we attached them to the front and back.
To stain our desktop, we used vinegar & steel wool treatment that turned the cedar a dark, warm brown. You can see how the stain also picked up all the dings and bumps we added to make the wood look worn.

We then added three coats of semi-gloss polyurethane for protection.

The desktop is very heavy so be sure to have a helper when you move it around!

The lag bolts work very well holding it together and keeping it from separating. It is probably over-engineered but this desk has made it through 2 moves without breaking or separating.

If you want to see additional pictures and the full detail instructions head on over to the website.
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Laura Kennedy
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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3 of 4 questions
  • Blu32466455 Blu32466455 on Mar 07, 2018

    Desk looks great!! Could you go into more detail on how to weather wood with tea and steel wool?

    thanks, Anita :)

  • Blu32466455 Blu32466455 on Mar 07, 2018

    Desk looks great!! Could you go into more detail on how to weather wood with tea and steel wool?

    thanks, Anita :)

  • Mary Kay Maples Mary Kay Maples on Mar 23, 2018

    redoing our study area in our home. This desk would be a perfect addition to it! My biggest reservations/concerns are where to look for the matching old sewing machines and where to find large chunks of wood for the top! Could you give us some suggestions in these areas please?

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  • Donna Avery Donna Avery on Jan 23, 2021

    Beautiful! I’ve made several sofa, dining and end tables for family members. Each time I gifted one, someone else wanted one. I kept one for myself. I use it in my sewing room. I just put a drop leaf top on it. Some of these tables only have one iron base.

  • Constance Blunt Constance Blunt on Aug 10, 2021

    Finding the machines is THE BIGGEST PROBLEM.