Saturday, June 09, 2007

First Post-Fire Furniture Restoration Project

This is my Great Grandmother's (Mary Lavelle Jones Grace) sewing machine. It was originally a treddle, and was converted to electric after many years of hard work (according to the Singer serial number).

It was in the living room of our house, which had fire above it in the attic and fire below it in the basement, but most of the damage in that room was from the smoke and heat. This sewing machine was sitting in the case in the corner of the living room - it weighs a ton - and when we picked it up to remove it from the hosue after the fire, the hardwood floor underneath was untouched and still shined as if it were just waxed.

Anyway, the heat and smoke damaged the case quite a bit, as since it is covered in a cherry veneer finish we were not exactly optomisic that it could be restored.

However, I followed some advice given by the Lowes paint people - I used medium grit steel wool to scrub the piece rather than sandpaper. Then I followed that scrubbing with a very very fine grit steel wool. Then I wiped it very gently with Murphy's Oil Soap.

I intend to use some sort of clear varnish as a protective color, but I have not purchased any yet. So these "after" photos are after the steel wool scrubbing and buffing, and then the Oil Soap.

AMAZING !! Singer can be clearly seen on the case again, and the letters are still gold leaf. It cleaned up beautifully !! This gives us a lot of hope for other pieces of special furniture that were also in the living room - namely most of the Hitchcock pieces that once belonged to my mother-in-law.

Photo 1: Case exterior after just baby-soap and water rinse. Blackened, flaking stain and varnish.
Photo 2: Interior and actual sewing machine - discolored, waterspotted, early rust signs.
Photo 3: Case and machine after steel wool scrub, steel wool buff, and Oil Soap.
Photo 4: Close up of brand name of case - note gold letters intact.
Photo 5: Another photo of the finished projects.

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