Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Refinishing and Restoration

Last week, my parents had the opportunity to go to Creation Ministries International's Super Conference in South Carolina. They left early on a Sunday morning, had a fantastic week there, and then arrived back home this past Saturday evening. It was so good to have them back home again! Leah and I had a wonderful week together, but our parents sure were missed. :) They took quite a few photos during their trip, and once I sort through them, I will be doing a post about their time there.

While they were away, Leah and I had a very full and fun week . . . taking care of all the animals, harvesting beans and blueberries and putting them up, making lots of soap (for me), training Kymber (for Leah), volunteering two days at the riding center, having very encouraging 'sister talks' about so many things, and much more.

A part of that "more" was working on refinishing/restoration projects! We wanted to do a fun project while our parents were gone so we each picked one - Leah decided to restore her Singer treadle sewing machine and I picked my chairs (which is one reason why we made sure to get them put together before my parents left as I knew we would need dad's help with that step!)

A friend of ours had thoughtfully given Leah the treadle sewing machine several years ago when she was downsizing. It wasn't in the greatest condition, and Leah wanted to keep the original finish so she researched how to restore it without refinishing . . .


We had so much fun working on these projects together! Leah started by removing the lid, taking the machine and drawers out, and then washing down the entire cabinet with Murphy's wood oil soap.

I did a bit of touch-up sanding on my chairs to remove some wood glue residue from when we put the chairs together, dusted them off, and then wiped them all down with a tack cloth to remove any bits of dust that remained in preparation for staining.

We had set up an area outside and spent our mornings out there working before it got too hot (most days, the heat indexes climbed to 110+ degrees - a little on the warm side!)

Our setup

Staining the bottom of the chair seats

The next step for Leah was wiping down all of the wood pieces with Old English Scratch Remover for dark wood which she is doing here. It worked amazingly well!

Staining the chairs . . . I love seeing the grain of the wood 'come alive' after being stained!

Rubbing off the excess stain

And it's all stained!

That was our first day . . . the consecutive days we didn't really get any photos so I'll just write a bit about the steps . . .

The chairs needed two coats each of Tung Oil finish applied, and it takes at least 24 hours drying time between coats. I love the look of this hand rubbed finish, but it isn't the easiest to work with! (At least the kind I am using.) It needs to set about 5-10 minutes on the wood and then be rubbed off, but by the time it is ready to be rubbed off, it is always so sticky, it can't really be done.

To get around that, I apply the Tung Oil onto small sections of the chair at a time, and then when the 'setting' time is up, brush a fresh coat on as that removes the stickiness. Then it is quickly rubbed off before it gets sticky again.

It was exciting to have those steps done! I had hoped to be able to start caning the seats as well, but ran out of time for that. Hopefully soon I'll be able to put those in which will be fun!

Leah's machine cabinet had quite a few large and small paint splatters on it, and Dad had suggested sanding those off. Leah was a little unsure about how best to do this, so I helped her pick out the sandpaper grit, and we worked on it together inside one evening. It was fun to do and exciting to see those green and white paint splotches coming off! She applied more Old English Scratch Remover afterwards to help blend the now lighter spots in.

Next she used steel wool to apply Howard Restor-A-Finish in walnut. That was then rubbed off with rags as well. This step really brought forth the original beauty and color of the wood and stain.

Last but not least, she rubbed in several coats of Howard Feed-N-Wax which polishes and conditions the wood. The difference in her machine after all of this was amazing!

Here are before photos . . .

And after . . .

Isn't it beautiful now? She did such a great job!

And here is a before and after on my chairs . . .

Before . . .

And after . . .

The two on the left are the ones I did this time

Now that we have these steps and/or projects done, we're already looking forward to our next ones (after I cane the seats that is) . . . our bookshelves? Leah's pie safe? My trunk? It will be fun deciding and working on them probably sometime in the fall!


  1. Sarah! how beautiful your furniture looks now. What a work of art the sewing machine is, it looks so 'real' without looking overdone. the chairs have such a professional look and I can't wait to see the next step of the caning. Well done both of you!

  2. You both did a great job on your projects. I had an old singer treadle machine some years ago but gave it to a local church that was sending them out to Africa I like to think it is being put to good use. I am waiting in anticipation to see your finished chairs Sarah :)

  3. You both really put some TLC into those tasks with fantastic results!
    It must be very satisfying to see the old wood come to life again,and the shapes of each piece sing out once more.

  4. Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for your kind words!

  5. Thank you, Marie! How thoughtful of you to give your treadle machine away in order to bless others in Africa. I am sure it is being put to excellent use and is much appreciated!

  6. Thanks so much, Alex! And yes, it is indeed. :)

  7. Such fine work
    Very well done to you both!


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