Need some advice on finishing

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Forum topic by marcbousquet posted 08-10-2014 08:51 PM 917 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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18 posts in 2408 days

08-10-2014 08:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing refurbishing oak

My parents recently dropped off an old White sewing machine with cabinet/desk. It was my great grandmother’s and is peddle powered. It was already sanded down by someone years ago. Most of the varnish was sanded off except for the part around where the machine swings through, that has the full shiny finish left. The finish also covers the inlay that serves as the ruler/measuring stick. My father wants to help me with this but I’m not sure what I can use to clean the wood before I put a finish on it. It has picked up some dust and other dirt from sitting in a cellar for decades. It is oak and stained (I think).

I’d also like some suggestions regarding a finish. I was thinking maybe Arm R Seal Gloss because it will protect it and give some protection. I haven’t done any restoring or working with old wood. Most of my experience has been painting items or working with finishing small items.

Here are some photos of it as it sits in the basement/workshop, the photos aren’t the best but all I had was my cellphone camera. I have the drawers out and off to the side and not in the pictures.

Any suggestions would be welcome, I need to start working on it by mid-week.

2 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4928 posts in 3953 days

#1 posted 08-10-2014 09:11 PM

PLEASE do not put a gloss finish on that piece.
Once cleaned, use a wiping varnish (probably 3 coats), and end up with a nice satin finish that will compliment the antique look. Let it cure for a couple weeks, then wax with Johnson’s paste wax.
I have cleaned that type sewing machine itself (not the cabinet) with GoJo hand cleaner. Wipe it on, buff it off well. Then after cleaning, put some auto wax on it.


View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 1542 days

#2 posted 08-10-2014 09:46 PM

My Wife has a similar sewing machine, which I bought her 20 years ago. You don’t want a gloss finish as Bill said. Another way to take the remaining finish of is denatured alcohol. Put it on a rag and wipe in small circular motions. Try this on a small area in the back or a drawer front to see it’s effect first. Their are so many ways to finish an antique, nothing wrong with Bills.

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