Saturday, May 12, 2012

One More from Skip!

These old sewing machines that we like to collect oftentimes have damage to the finish due to the old shellac or clearcoat finish aging, getting dull, and wearing away.  The pictures here are of my own Singer 201-2.  Skip tells me that the machine got pretty hot at some time or another, causing the "alligator" looking shellac finish on it.  The finish was cracked, separated, flaky and dull.

I will caution you before you use this tutorial to ASK QUESTIONS if you have exposed decals!!  There is no guarantee that the products used in this tutorial will not hurt those decals, nor will Skip or I take responsibility for damages done to decals.  I will tell you that I have used this technique on my own machines with no problems, but being over-enthusiastic when cleaning or rubbing on these machines can cause problems!!  Proceed with caution, and I would suggest that if you are new to these kinds of techniques to test them first on less common, "boat anchor" types of machines before you try it on your great great grandmother's extremely rare antique machine that really doesn't look too bad to begin with! 

I am going to first post the photos of my own machine, a Centennial Singer 201-2.  This machine was a GREAT thrift store find, and cost me a whopping $15.00.  Nothing was with it in the way of attachments, but since those are "a dime a dozen", I didn't care.  Normally, seeing boxes of attachments with a machine will incite me to buy it faster than if it doesn't have attachments...don't ask why, I couldn't tell you and it has nothing to do with this post anyway!   This machine had a finish  that was dull, flaking, and the decals were in danger from exposure.  I couldn't quite follow Skip's tutorial down to the letter, because I first had to add more shellac to the machine to protect the decals.

These photos are of the machine's finish BEFORE I started on it.  I had to, gently as possible, clean the machine of all of the layers of car wax I had applied trying to "fix" the finish, and I had to add shellac first to give me something to work with using Skip's tutorial that I'm going to post in just a minute.  This is the time to be REALLY CAREFUL, and know with a certainty that you are not going to further damage your machine's decals and decorations before you advance to cleaning!!   PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS!!
Here is the same machine after following Skip's instructions; still not perfect, but so much better, and the decals are protected!

Here are Skip's instructions:

Supplies needed: Shellac
Denatured alcohol
Linseed oil (boiled)
Rags (old t-shirts or old tighty whites)

1. Clean the head with your favorite method to remove dirt and grime.
2. Wrap your finger with a couple of layers with the t-shirt.
3. dip finger in alcohol and place a few drops of linseed oil on the finger
4. now start rubbing the bed with light circular motions, add more oil if finger sticks to the finish.

We are now melting the old shellac into a smooth coating trying to eliminate the dull brown spots of old shellac.

5.Now go from left to right in a straight line ligthly lifting the finger and the repeat. you can also go from right to left if you like. Now we are trying to get rid of any swirl marks that were left by the rag.

Stay away of the decals at this time. Cont this tech until you have a smooth finish on the entire head.

When you have a smooth and clear finish on the head(as clear as it will get and you will know)

6. Now go over the the decals with the same method above very lightly.

7. Let this cure for about a day then with new rag on finger dip it in shellac and place a few drops of oil and with a circular motion go over the decals and the head. Cont. dipping finger in shellac and a few drops of linseed oil and do this over the entire head and decals. this is adding more clean shellac to protect the decals and the japan coating. Always ending in the straight line finishing to get rid of the swirl marks made by the rag.

8. Do this until it looks good to you and smooth and shiny. Let cure for a week and then wax if you want. You favorite brand of wax is okay although it is not needed now.

Please note: I recommend you practice this french polish method on an old machine first so you can get the hang of it. Please do not hesitate to ask questions anytime. I am always here to help.

More Words of Wisdom from Skip!

If you read my previous post, then you know about my friend Skip already.  If you didn't read my previous post, go read it first.   It will tell you Skip's credentials, and you'll need the information in it before you start with this step of sewing machine cabinet refinishing! :)  Once again, I have Skip's permission to repost his instructions.  Skip DOES read here, so if you have any questions, post them, I'm sure he'll answer when he sees them.  If he doesn't, I'll send your question on to him for an answer for you.  Without rambling on as I usually do, (STOP CHEERING!  It's not polite! LOL!)  here are Skip's directions for refinishing that beat up sewing machine cabinet:

Okay quilters here we go!
Supplies needed: 
0000steel wool
120-200 grit sandpaper
Lots of cotton rags(old t-shirts underware etc) white only
containers to but stripper and mess from the old finish in(coffee cans work great)
2" natural bristle brush of good quality for applying shellac
putty knife
stain brown walnut, dark oak or mahogony(your choice) I use aniline dye water soluble(can be ordered from the Rockler Cat)
your choice of brand

Orange and clear shellac 1qt each
1gal denatured alcohol
1 gal of turpintine
1 gal of your favorite stripper

Paint the stripper on the surface doing a section at a time. For example do the top first then the each side. Let stand according to the instructions on the stripper. Scrape off old loose finish into a coffee can. Wipe surface with rag and turps. This will clean the stripper and nutralize the chemical action of the stripper. Repeat if necessary.
When stipped to your satisfaction wipe down the entire piece with turps. Let stand 24 hours to let the turps evaporate. Then Wipe the piece down again using alcohol. This will prep the wood for staining and remove any unwanted moisture. Let dry for about an hour.

Using a clean rag apply stain to the cabinet. If using oil base stain let dry overnight. If using water base let a couple of hours. Make sure stain is even on the cabinet. The stain can be adjusted at anytime during this stage.

Feel the surface now that the stain is dry to see if it raised the grain of the wood. If it did use the steel wool or sandpaper to lightly smooth the surface down. Clean all dust off with a vacuum then wipe down with the alcohol. Let stand 1 hour.

Apply first coat of shellac using the orange shellac. This gives the amber look to the finish to simulate age. Let dry a couple of hours and apply the clear shellac. Apply two to three coats of clear shellac. Let the piece stand for about a week to cure.

The finish will appear shiny and new. Now take the paste wax and apply it using the steel wool with the grain. Gently rubbing down the finish. Let wax dry buff with clean cloth. Do only a small area at a time. This will take the shine and the new look off the finish. This will take some time so do not rush. When you are pleased with the results you are done. All that is required now is to keep it dusted (NO enddust or pledge please) Dust with soft rag then a clean soft rag can be used to buff the shine back up. You should wax the cabinet once a year, you will not use steel wool this time. Just follw the instructions. 

Note; If shellac feels to thick you can thin it with the alcohol. Work quickly when appling shellac and always keep a wet edge Shellac dries fastbut easy to apply. It can be sprayed also.

You do not have to use shellac you can also use an oil varnish, I do not recommend water based poly because of it clearity it will not have that old wood glow. Oil varnish takes so long to dry(overnight) that you need a dust free place to work or you will wake up to a finish with embeded dust. I am here to answer your qustions. 

My Friend Skip and His Knowledge

Skip is also known as "Glenn" on the quilting board.  This is a man of MANY talents!  (Sorry Girls, he's married to the lovely Miz Pat, and quite happily, I might add! ~wink~)

Skip can sew.  He's a quilter.  Skip can crochet.  He makes the cutest little "thread pin doilies" to decorate the old sewing machines that he loves. (I have some that he made for me, they're GREAT!!)  And Skip knows wood and finishes.  Skip is also probably one of the most helpful and willing to share person on the quilting board!  (Ok...that's not necessarily true, there are lots there that are willing to help and share, but not all of them know how to do woodworking and rejuvenate a sewing machine finish! LOL)  Suffice it to say that Skip knows his stuff, and he gave me permission to use his tutorials/instructions here to help others.   Trust me, if you like old machines and old cabinets/wood furniture, these tips are going to help you make the best of them!  He spent many years working with woods and restoring antiques.  Can I get a round of applause for our friend?  YAY!! THANKS SKIPPER, FOR PERMITTING ME TO SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE HERE!!  :)

So.  Without further ado, this is Skip's advice on cleaning an old wood finish.  All of the following words are Skip's own.  If you have missing shellac, stop at the end of Step #2, I'll be posting more of Skip's knowledge in another post.  All of the ingredients needed can be found at your local hardware or "big box" store.

Cleaning solutions needed:
Solution One--4parts white venegar, 4parts boiled linseed oil, 4parts mineral spirits, 1part denatured alcohol and 3-4 drops of household ammonia.

Solution Two--4parts mineral spirits, 1part boiled linseed oil

Stept 1-- with a course lint free cloth(blue jeans is good) charge the cloth with Solution one and rub in a circular motion, turning a recharging the rag with solution one. Replace rag as it gets dirty. Continue until the whole is cleaned. Hard to clean areas use 0000steel wool with the solution. The final wipe down should be with the grain of the wood. This finish will be cloudy and dry looking at this point.

Step 2--with a lint free cloth charged with Solution Two rub in a circular motion turning rag and recharging with solution two. Replace rag as it gets dirty. Continue until the whole is cleaned and the finish is not cloudy and dry looking. Finish by wiping the whole with only minaral spirits.

Step 3-- Apply a good coat of wax( such as a tinted briwax or any of the antique paste waxes that can be found in antique stores) according to the directions on the can. Apply thinly and buff like crazy to a nice clean shine. The looks of the piece can be maintained by waxing once a year and regular dusting and buff to shine. Nothing else needs to be done. I do not recommend endust or pledge. No need for lemon oil or anything.

This is the accepted method of proff antique restorers. After you can say I did not refinish the piece I restored the finish. Happy cleaning