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Metal industrial sewing machine legs replaced with red oak legs/wrap, inlaid drawer w/dragonfly

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Project by AcetolaOfRocknRolla posted 10-20-2011 12:50 PM 1867 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The missus found a deal on an old industrial sewing machine and integrated table that we just couldn’t walk
away from.

After getting it out of the storage unit and home, we saw how the original table was made of
something like 1.5” thick, heavy duty, particle board core, with a top layer of formica. One corner was badly “frayed”, the particle board had been basically pummeled into expanding to roughly 2x [3”] at the most extreme point, and material was obviously missing. Also, the thick plastic banding that wrapped the tabletop was coming unglued in many places, missing in other spots, often taking hunks of the corner with it…
On top of all of this, the thing had a serious sag in the middle.
Apparently, this is standard in such things of this vintage, and honestly, I wish I had held up as well…

Anyway, this HEAVINESS was balanced atop thick but bent metal legs, which were installed, IMO, incorrectly. The center of balance of the assembly is VERY back heavy [due to the extreme, rearward mounting of the heavy, heavy clutch motor, and the narrow [NARROW!] legs were installed far forward from where they should have been, leaving us feeling that an accidental bump would be all it would take to have the table/sewing machine to start tipping over.

And Something help you if you were under it when it fell…yikes!

So, I saw my chance to knock some rust off of the newly re-available shop tools and suggested that I replace her battered, bent, mangled, metal legs with some made from red oak. Evidence of a previous drawer installation prompted me to suggest making one for her. We decided that we wanted to be able to disassemble/reassemble it easily, but hopefully quite rigid as well.

I ended up having so much fun, that I kept expanding the project. [This was my first real foray into working with hardwoods, up to this point it was mostly plywood and 2×4s. LOVED it!]

We finally ended up with red oak banding around the perimeter of the tabletop, with an overly heavy, but extremely sturdy drawer [I know how the missus loves to store hunks of lead, gold bar, Howitzer rounds and other girlish treasures in drawers like these… ;) ]. Because of the vintage and lineage of the sewing machine [a Singer 491, maybe?] we wanted to keep it all looking somewhat industrial, square, blocky, functional; such as with the black plastic jig knobs and visible hardware, drawer slides. But some touches to make one think of furniture were added to make it a little more at place in the home, such as exotic wood plugs, [badly] router-rounded-over edges, and the addition of a shopmade “mildly whimsical” exotic wood drawer pull/knob, along with an inlaid dragonfly.

The plugs were mostly from purpleheart, though a few yellowheart were included as well, as were a number of red oak plugs on the back, oriented to disappear as much as we were able to make happen.

The day after I finished the last manual router-round-over on the legs [ which look mostly nice, but I designed in a few gouges that might look like bad router technique, if they weren’t planned…yeah…planned, that’s the ticket…] we stumbled onto a deal on my dust collector, Porter Cable 891, and a Rockler router table top. These “mistakes” wouldn’t happen now…

We made a slightly wonky, rustic [seriously on purpose, this time!] drawer pull/handle out of Lignum Vitae and yellowheart scraps. The missus [included a bit in a pic above] found a piece of red oak for the drawer front which made her think of ripples in a pond, and we mounted this knob, thinking of a branch hovering over the pond.

And, approaching this branch is the inlaid dragonfly. I am pleased at how my first, DIY with no real clue of proper technique, attempt turned out, although I am also mortified by visible mistakes I made with the router and my inlay sanding method. But, again, live and learn and make not, that mistake again…and fortunately, family and friends aren’t looking as closely as I am… anyway, the dragonfly head and wings are 2 different grain facings of black palm, the body is cocobolo, and the tail section of the body is composed of alternating bands of purpleheart and mahogany [or was that walnut…shoot!]. Again, the inlay was intentionally hand placed in a mildly rustic manner to soften it a bit.

To sum up…first real time using hardwood, first time making a drawer, first inlay work, first use of a new router…fair finish, interesting but amateur inlays, HEAVY but STURDY drawer, decent frame and assembly rigidity, especially remembering that it was built to break down to parts fairly easily, with minimal effort and screws. I realized that 1” lumber is more like 3/4” in reality and would have purchased some slightly thicker red oak for better solidity if I were to do it again. AND, I got that “frayed corner” reglued and clamped almost well enough to match the red oak banding as well as the rest of the table does…almost…

AND I had a blast and start remembering some woodworking techniques again…WIN!

[Folks, this is my second real post, the first with this much wording. I hope others find this amusing or interesting or realize they are wasting their time and moved along. Please let me know if you find this more annoying than helpful/fun/entertaining, and I’ll adjust accordingly, if warranted.]

-- Reach my personal page at http://www.facebook.com/wayne.lichte, and The Sawdust Factory [my online "shop"] at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Sawdust-Factory/10871875





7 comments so far

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3372 posts in 2121 days


#1 posted 10-20-2011 02:45 PM

Very nice work. I have an old industrial singer that I need to put back into working order. Do you know where I can get parts?

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View ksSlim's profile

ksSlim

1204 posts in 2356 days


#2 posted 10-20-2011 03:28 PM

>RG Many upholstery shops can direct you to their source of repair/ refurb parts. If your machine happens to be a 31-15 model, parts are still available from most repair shops.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3372 posts in 2121 days


#3 posted 10-20-2011 06:45 PM

THANK YOU SLIM!!!!

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View AcetolaOfRocknRolla's profile

AcetolaOfRocknRolla

39 posts in 1887 days


#4 posted 10-20-2011 07:06 PM

Thanks RG. The wife found a couple people online who have been helpful, and some local authorized repair shops, which have been complete ripoffs.

If you have any specific needs I can query the wife about, I’ll be happy to do so and see if she can help.

-- Reach my personal page at http://www.facebook.com/wayne.lichte, and The Sawdust Factory [my online "shop"] at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Sawdust-Factory/10871875

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3372 posts in 2121 days


#5 posted 10-20-2011 08:18 PM

I’ll grab the model number when I get home.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View vipond33's profile

vipond33

1405 posts in 1964 days


#6 posted 10-22-2011 05:10 PM

This is a fine renovation with interesting materials, hardware and decoration – a nice mix of whimsy and chunk style, but that’s what it deserves. Well done with some very fine “firsts”.
Just a little editing might be in order, IMHO, though I prefer too many words accompanying a post to too few, for I can sift. I like to add a good writeup myself, it’s really half the fun, though it can take days to get it right.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View AcetolaOfRocknRolla's profile

AcetolaOfRocknRolla

39 posts in 1887 days


#7 posted 10-22-2011 05:40 PM

Thanks much for the feedback, vipond33 [Gene], on both the project and my writeup. I really enjoy a glimpse into the mind of the person that made the project and what they were thinking, etc. That’s where things get really interesting, IMO.

Yeah, I could probably stand to edit my novel a bit! ;)

-- Reach my personal page at http://www.facebook.com/wayne.lichte, and The Sawdust Factory [my online "shop"] at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Sawdust-Factory/10871875

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