Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, the kitchen, the yard, and out fishing. He writes from his personal experience.
Repurposing an Old Sewing Machine Into a Unique Table
This project started out with a $10 yard sale find. I've been looking for an old sewing machine base for quite a while, and though the vintage stands are often found at flea markets and yard sales, the asking price is typically more than I'm willing to pay. It's not uncommon to see an antique Singer sewing machine base in good shape and with working trundle selling for $75 or more. Even the crusty and broken old stands are often priced at $50.
A recent stop at a moving sale uncovered this nice White base. The asking price was $20, but the seller was motivated (it was late in the day and the rainy weather reduced the number the number of bargain hunters). She quickly accepted my $10 offer.
The White Sewing Machine Base: Made in the U.S.A.
Sure, the White sewing machine is not as popular as the well-known Singer brand. The trundle assembly was missing, making the base seem even plainer. But the stand was solid, the cast iron scroll work is subtle yet quite appealing, and it still sports its original paint. Even the little wheels at the end of each leg are intact and spin freely.
Overall, the old base is a good candidate for repurposing into a new table. I just needed an appropriate table top.
Finding or Making a Matching Table Top
Originally, I envisioned a hefty piece of pine or oak with a live edge (where you can still see the remnants of bark and the natural shape of the tree). Searching through my stash of salvaged wood, I found several planks of mahogany that were collected as scraps from neighbor's deck remodel. Perfect!
The mahogany planks are approximately 5-1/2" wide by 28" long and about an inch thick. Edge gluing three planks together created a 16-1/2" wide table top; a nice size for a side table. The smooth grain and reddish color of mahogany looks good with the aged black painted base, and the proportions look right. Here's how I put them together to make the top.
Step 1: Preparing the Mahogany Planks
The side edges of the deck planking are milled with a slight round over. Before edge gluing the planks together, I ran each piece through the table saw to trim about 1/8" of material from each edge. This squares up the boards for gluing. I dry-fitted the pieces together with the best sides facing up, moving them around until I liked the alignment of the grain patterns.
Step 2: Glue the Planks Together
After spreading an even coating of glue along all of the edges and pressing biscuits into each of the slots, I clamped the boards together and set the assembly aside to cure overnight. When edge gluing boards, make sure that all of the edges are drawn tightly together and the adjoining surfaces are flat and even. Wipe away any glue that squeezes out from the joints with a damp cloth.
Since the table might be used outdoors on our deck, I used waterproof glue with biscuits to join the boards together. The biscuit joiner cuts shallow slots into the edge of the board. Spread glue along both edges of the adjoining boards and into the slots before pressing a biscuit into the slots. The biscuits absorb moisture from the glue and swell for a tight fit, adding a lot of strength to the glue joint.
Step 3: Trim and Sand
After the glue dried and with the clamps removed, I used a belt sander to clean up both surfaces and to smooth out the table top. Next, I trimmed both ends on my table saw to a finished length of 26" long. Then, I used a palm sander and progressively finer grits of sandpaper to sand the wood smooth.
Step 4: Apply the Top Coat
The table top is finished with several coats of Danish oil. The beautiful mahogany grain comes alive as the oil seeps into the pores of the wood. The color deepens as each coat of oil is applied.
Between coats of oil, I buffed the surface with steel wool. After the third or fourth coat of oil is fully dried and cured, I applied several coats of wax for a smooth, shiny finish that will last for several seasons on our deck. When the finish weathers and fades, a little sanding followed by a few coats of oil and wax will restore the shine and protect the piece for a few more years.
More DIY Ideas for Repurposing a Vintage Sewing Machine Base
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Anthony Altorenna
RTalloni on May 27, 2019:
Your project turned out beautifully! Working to make it useful on a deck is brilliant. Thanks for posting your DIY. Have you ever used old iron bench frames for a project?
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 26, 2019:
My parents once purchased an old singer sewing machine base from a farmer who was using it with a large wooden plank upon it to display his vegetables. My parents put a marble base upon it. So your idea of hunting for them and repurposing them is a good idea.