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Sewing machine
Sewing machine  

Singer sewing machine
Singer sewing machine  
Hello Eileen. I purchased an antique is ger sewing machine table at a yard sale. I am trying to figure out what to do with it and the finish.  It is in great condition however the person I bought it from painted a picture on the lid. I want to remove the painted picture and also refinish it all. It is tiger wood.  Several do I remove the painted picture on the lid?  How do I strip the finish then do a new finish?  Is it wise to stay with the same finish or can I go with a whole new finish?  

Thanks so much,


Hi Samantha
Nice to hear from you.
This is a great project and one you can easily do.
And the wood is called quarter sawn oak. Its sometimes referred to as tiger oak.
First I will outline the way to take things apart so you can do the job.
First you will remove the machine.
You should have someone to help with this first step.
With the machine in the up position, remove the screws from the hinges that hold the machine to the table. Have someone support the machine while you do this.
Then tilt the machine to relieve pressure on the belt.  You should now be able to take the machine away from the table. Careful, its heavy.
Next I remove the top cover (the painted top). Pretty easy..remove the screws and hinges. Also remove that other hinged piece.
Remove the drawers and turn the cabinet upside down. You are going to see 4 large screws (look near each corner) that hold the legs and tredle to the cabinet.  Remove the screws.
Now all the metal parts are seperate from the wood and you can start the refinishing process.
Well almost, one more wood part to remove but the screws are underneath and are now accessable. You will see that they secure that last piece of wood thats on top.
Now you are ready to start.
The painted top will be treated exactly like the rest of the machine.
Here are the instructions. And please, get the name brands as mentioned.

The first thing you must do is assemble the material to do the job.
The stripper is the most important item.  
I am hoping you can get "CIRCA 1850" brand paint and varnish remover in your area.
Here is a link
If this product is not available ask for an MC stripper. Accept no other.
If the salesperson does not know what an MC stripper is, your at the wrong store LOL.

MATERIAL LIST For the stripping stage.
1 gallon stripper
3 boxes of Bull Dog steel wool in medium grade.
One 3 inch oil based paint brush.
Rubber gloves (like you do dishes with), and a pair of cotton gloves inside the rubber ones.
People react differently to stripper. A lot of people feel heat through the rubber gloves, but I feel cold. Have no idea why.
An empty large coffee can. (for the stripper)
A couple of old tooth brushes.
Lots of old rags (I like t-shirts or cotton but for this first stage whatever you have)
Lots of newspaper to protect the garage floor
That's all you need to get started.
Work in sections.
Brush on the stripper with the brush. Stripper will quit working if it dries, so keep it wet till the finish softens.
Then take a rag and wipe this mess off.
Then another coat of stripper, rag off again, then while the wood is still wet, take the steel wool and rub with the grain till the wood is nice and clean.
Depending on the material you are removing, another coat of stripper is often needed but you will know this as you progress into the job.
Use the toothbrush in crevices.
Thats all there is to it ...move to another section and continue.
No other prep is necessary...and DO NOT SAND
When the stripping is complete, stain with Minwax stain applied with a rag, only one coat. Then 3 or 4 coats of low lustre tung oil also applied with a rag.
Samantha, I would get one can of Minwax golden oak color stain and one can Minwax Special Walnut color stain and mix together half and half. Get those very small cans. You will have lots left over for other projects.
I use Circa brand tung oil..this one

Please let me know if anything is not 100% clear.
I'll be here if needed. Dig in

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Eileen Cronk


Hi..I can answer most questions about the repairing,stripping and refinishing of all your old furniture and wood items(the things we call antiques)I can give advice about what to buy/avoid at auctions/flea markets. I do not give appraisals on antiques.


I have been refinishing antiques for the past 30yrs. While I have taken several courses over the years,I have found that "hands on" learning is the best teacher. Perhaps I can help you avoid some of the mistakes I made while learning.

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