Restoring The Singer - Part 1

I recieved this beautiful antique Singer machine a few years ago for my birthday. It is definately the most cherishable item I own. This year it is 107 years old, but out of all the machines I've used (excluding the industrial Brother) it sews the smoothest and most beautifully. Unfortunately, during the January floods in Brisbane this year, the air was so humid for so long my lovely machine became home for a family of mould. I considered getting it professionally restored, but it was way too expensive for my budget. After some encouraging comments from Pham, I told myself I could probably do it myself. I don't know where this courage came from, I've never done any sort of woodwork before! Fast forward 6 months and today I finally got my machine out and started the first steps in bringing my machine back to life.

After some helpful advice from the local Bunnings guy, I bought sandpaper in course, medium and fine grit. The plan is to use the course one to remove all the old varnish then the medium and fine to polish and smooth out the wood. After all that is done, I'll re-varnish it all.

I started with the outside case by removing all the handles and screws. Pham and I decided it would be a good idea to start sanding between the decorative ridges first as I was scared I'd sand them out by accident. It took me a while to figure out how much pressure to use and when I needed to stop sanding. After I got the hang of it, I was sanding away with the grain of the wood in a quick smooth rhythm. Who said I couldn't do manly stuff? 

I accidentally left a leaking iron on it
once... poor Singer...
Sand sand sand....

I only completed sanding down 2 thirds of the outer case with the course sandpaper today, so something tells me this is going to be a looong project. I'm feeling very enthusiastic about my new venture into woodwork, I think this will be a very satisfying and proud project for me. Wish me luck and remember to check in for my latest updates!


John | 17 July 2011 at 19:56

looking good buddy, can't wait till it's varnished.

Esz | 17 July 2011 at 20:08

Hey! Are you a member of the Vintage Singers Yahoo Group? They have a TON of info about restoring old Singers and heaps of other great tips etc.
Here is the link to join up

I'm interested in your sloper instructions too. :-D I'm still learning and tend to fly blind quite a lot. Found a good tutorial for a pencil skirt sloper here which I want to try soon.

So anyway - I'm going to subscribe to your blog now cos I've been putting it off for too long!

Wang's Factory | 18 July 2011 at 17:42

Hi Esz, thank you for subscribing! It really means a lot to me. I will have to check out the Vintage Singers group. Any normal person would've googled up some instruction but not me, the crazy inside me just told me to go straight for it haha. I sanded some more this afternoon, but it will be a while until I am close to finished. I think I will have to look for some good advice when it comes to restoring the actual machine parts.

If you are interested in the instructions I used for my bodice sloper just contact me through my Facebook page and I will try and scan some images for you :)

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