Monday, 22 April 2013

Sewing machine cabinet quick restore

My Singer 319K came in a cute little 1960s cabinet. However, the cabinet had seen better days. It looked like this:
I decided during the holidays that this little cutie deserved a new lease on life.
Sanding it down seemed like a lot of work, and a scraper usually achieves the same result only much quicker. I used a scraper (I call it a wallpaper scraper), in fact this one:
You can clearly see the state of the cabinet lid. The top of the lid copped the worst of the sun, being on top of course. It was so bad that a lot of the varnish was gone completely, leaving large patches of exposed wood. The remaining varnish must have felt a bit lonely or even suicidal, since it barely held to the wood at all. I scraped it all onto the floor, vacuumed the floor, then unscrewed the lid to take it outside (it was obvious even to me that doing this inside was just unnecessarily messy).

Bare wood, before filling
A quick trip to the hardware shop and I came back with a brilliant Aussie varnish, Cabot's Cabothane Clear. Bit expensive as were all the urethane finishes. When the varnish was off, it was sanded using a machine, filled with liquid wood then manually sanded all over with some fine steel wool (00).
Steel wool, about to rub down the filler and bare wood
The urethane requires three coats, and here's how it goes:
First coat goes on the bare wood. You have to do this inside in a non-dusty environment, unfortunately (it smells pretty strong). If not you'll have dust, insects, pollen etc. under your beautiful polish. After six hours, rub it lightly with some 300 emery (dry), put the second coat on, wait another six hours, rub lightly, third coat, leave for 24 hours, rub lightly (I used steel wool grade 0000) and use car or furniture wax to leave a deep gloss.
Here is how it ended up:
Top of the lid is now as beautiful as the machine it contains
I put two coats on the underside of the lid, and three on the top of the cabinet:

Top of the cabinet
Only two coats for the lid's underside

Didn't really want that deep gloss for the underside. Seemed like a bit of a waste of effort and it didn't really get much sun exposure.
I still have to do the rest of it, but that was probably the larger amount of work. The legs are only just holding the varnish, too, so it shouldn't take much to get them looking like new (albeit somewhat rustic) again. It will possibly have to wait until the end of term 2.
Most of the time went into waiting for the stuff to dry, so this was what I'd class as an easy job, or "low hanging fruit".
The lid's underside took a lot more work to remove the original stuff that the top (it wasn't as damaged). Also, be careful with your scraper: It's not that difficult to scrape the wood off if it's soft.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Pinnock Sewing machine user manual

I couldn't believe it when one kind lady scanned this and sent it to me.
I don't actually have a Pinnock 404, but I'm sure it will help someone out there.
Can't comment on copyright, but seeing as Pinnock stopped manufacturing in 1966 and there are a heap of people selling pdfs of Pinnock manuals I came to the conclusion that totally free distribution of this is reasonable.
I have several Pinnocks and they're all very similar up to the time Brother started using the name in the 1980s, so if you have a genuine Pinnock, this is likely to be helpful.
I disassembled the original pdf, cut it in size and re-saved it to reduce the file size. It is 1.67MB and available here.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Sewing a holed button with your machine

I was told this can't be done, but according to the book that came with my 319K2 it's relatively easy. After a false start, I learned the art of putting on a button with a machine (I hate doing it manually).
The pre-requisite abilities of your machine are two:
1. Disengage the feed dogs. If they work as normal they'll move the button so the needle and button will both break. If you simply set the dogs to not feed (zero), they will still push the button up and will break the button. They must be disengaged and lowered. All of my machines have a height adjustment for the feed dogs and once lowered below the throat plate, your button will be safe.
2. Zig-zag stitching. Your machine must obviously be able to stitch from one side of the button to the other. If the button has four holes, a diagonal stitch is best, if your zig-zag will reach.

Here is the relevant page from the 319K manual:
319K Manual page 70
The instructions are the same for any machine, but disengaging the feed dogs is different for other machines. A friend of mine has a 1952 Phoenix 250 that has a very convenient lever on the front of the machine which lowers the dogs. I'm not sure if putting it to 0 stitch width is even necessary, but I did it anyway.

Slowly hand crank while adjusting the zig-zag width until you're certain the needle will go into both holes before engaging the motor. Note the instructions for adding a shank.

I'm confident, after 10 buttons or so. It saves me a load of time and produces a consistent result.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

A few more links - vintage sewing machines

Here are some links I find very useful when dealing with old sewing machines:

Rudolf Couture
He is (also) an obsessive collector and has loads of manuals available as pdf for downloading.
The Quilting Board
A lot of members of this group have old machines
International Sewing Machine Collector Society A wealth of information from the collector society