Several weeks ago I shared a post about my great grandmother’s vintage sewing machine. In that post I talked of how the wooden cabinet was badly in need of repair. Ten years ago it had been left in the hands of my mom and a close friend. Both had taken a furniture refinishing class and intended to use their new-found knowledge to restore its lustre.
Earlier this summer I reclaimed the cabinet from their possession. The cabinet restoration had been started but never finished. A portion of the veneer had been replaced but not much else had been done. Being as we have a trip to Colorado planned for this fall and since that sewing machine was destined for my Colorado daughter’s home I thought it was time to retrieve the machine and take finishing the restoration into my own hands.
After transporting the machine home an assessment was made of its current condition. The cabinet was in worse shape than I had remembered. The veneer, which had been replaced, appeared nice but had been installed improperly. The grain of the veneer flowed in the opposite direction as all of the other wood, numerous other sections had veneer that needed replacing and there was an accumulation of old varnish on other sections. After examining the cabinet I came to the revelation the scope of this project was way beyond my talents.
Deciding how to proceed was a no-brainer. My older brother is what I call a master craftsman. He can turn an ugly, dilapidated piece of furniture into a beautiful show piece. I just knew he was the man for the job. I presented my case to my brother and asked him if he was up to the challenge. Plans were made for him to stop by and check out the cabinet before he made the commitment.
We invited he and his wife down for a family gathering. While at my home we both went into my basement to look at the cabinet. After asking a lot of questions and a bit of pondering, my brother agreed to take on the project.
The cabinet and machine were transported to my brother’s house early in August. Since the required amount of reconstruction was more than we had anticipated I told my brother he didn’t have to finish the cabinet in time for our Colorado trip. He was appreciative of the extension afforded to the timeline.
As my brother began the initial phases questions arose as to missing hinges, how much veneer I wanted replaced and what type of finish I wanted applied. We worked through the list of questions and established the priorities. Since I didn’t want the task to be too burdensome for my brother, by the end of the conversation I basically left it up to him. He could decide how much time and effort he wanted to invest and then take it from there.
Today 5 1/2 weeks later the restoration was completed. We met my brother at his home to take delivery of the finished project. As we approached his driveway I could see that his garage door was open and the sewing machine and cabinet were sitting in plain sight. I believe the first words out of my mouth were, “Oh, it is beautiful.” I didn’t for one second think that my brother would do less than a stellar job. Everything about my brother’s workmanship screams excellence. My husband and brother carefully loaded the cabinet into the back of our truck. Once it was safely secured we offered to take my brother to lunch.
During our meal I asked my brother to share the details of his restoration. process. In hind sight I wish I would have had him keep a photographic documentation of his work. Perhaps next time I will think of that ahead of time. He shared about the removal and replacement of the veneer, the gluing process he used to reinforce other areas that were coming unglued and the vendors he used to acquire the missing hinges. Two of the hinges were found on Ebay and the others came from a local hardware store.
Before parting company I handed my brother a check for his monetary investment plus a stipend for his time. A big smile washed over his face as he read the amount of the check. His efforts and his talents were well worth the price I paid. I know that the dollar value I placed on the cabinet was well above the price we could expect to receive on the market but I didn’t care. What was important was the restoration of a family heirloom. Hopefully this machine and cabinet will remain in the family and be passed down from one generation to the next.
Well, there you have it. My great grandmother’s sewing cabinet has been brought back to life. So what do you think?
I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced. Be sure to visit her blog and see what everyone else is up to.