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Here’s a summary of my recent work restoring a featherweight table. A bit of background - I have 4 Featherweights - my late mother's (her high school graduation present), my late aunt's, a 222, and a white one. I mostly sew on my mother's - a centennial - and the 222 when I need a free arm. My aunt's came to me with a table and I had always wanted to refinish it but was waiting until I had more information on how to proceed.

A few months ago I just stumbled across a two-week old Craigslist add for a free table. It happened to be a Featherweight table and it was still available. So I thought I would get it so I could use it to practice my techniques for refinishing. It was really in rough shape - but all parts present. I then started researching information for how best to refinish and restore these tables. My most detailed and helpful resource was found on the Still Stitching website:

I used a lot of the techniques and supplies mentioned by Still Stitching and also improvised to my liking. I hope this information is helpful to someone as the details sometimes in a project like this are not always specified so I will be as specific as possible.

Firstly, I will say this is not a weekend project (as suggested by Still Stitching)- at least not for me. After assessing the table, I identified many areas on the edges where the veneer was coming loose. My first task was to glue and clamp all such areas on the veneer. I did not want to go through the time and effort to replace the veneer. There are some deep scratches and small areas of veneer missing but I decided to see what sanding and wood filler would do.

After the veneer was glued, clamped, and dried for a day I proceeded to remove the old finish. The sides are painted and the top appears like shellac. The top finish easily flaked off with my fingernail so I decided I would try to scrape as much off as possible. After I scraped what I could, I then used ammonia with steel wool to dissolve and remove any left on shellac. This worked great and was my idea since ammonia is used to dissolve and cleanup shellac. Maybe I could have used alcohol but this is what I had on hand. I worked outside and used small amounts of ammonia. I don't know if this is bad for the veneer/wood but it worked. My reasoning is that I wanted to avoid as much sanding as possible since the veneer is very thin.

Once the old finish was removed I sanded the top and sides -starting with hand sanding and 80 grit and moving on to a hand sander and 220 grit. I finished by hand with 320 grit. The scratches have mostly sanded out but still noticeable. The side black paint easily sanded off. The very small areas of missing veneer I filled with Minwax Stainable Wood Filler prior to sanding. Larger areas of missing veneer - mostly on the edges - I just sanded smooth. The wood filler will be more noticeable an these areas so I just sanded smooth.

The grain turned out to be so beautiful I was very temped to either not stain or go with a very light stain but on further thought because there were so many imperfections, I took the advice of Still Stitching, and went with a Minwax Honey Stain. The result I think is beautiful and the imperfections blend in well and don't pop out. It is also a color that I like - not too yellow or orange - and I think it goes well with the black trim. I also took Still Stitching advice and used Minwax water based Polycrylic - in clear semi-gloss for the final finish. I debated on this but wanted a very durable finish for sewing and a highly protective one for the thin veneer. I am not sorry - it turned out lovely - not at all plastic looking. I will follow up with Howard Feed-N-Wax when the table is finally reassembled. For the trim I used Valspar furniture paint in black satin.

The underside I stained using Minwax Ebony Stain. I was not planning to take the table completely apart but I could not easily clean and de-rust the metal parts without doing so. Anyway - it was much easier that I thought. Today, I primed the legs with Rustoleum etching primer (spray can) and I will follow up with a black enamel Rustoleum paint.

I painted all metal parts (not the hinge springs) including legs, hinges, screw heads, and brackets. This was done after I de-rusted with Evaporust and cleaned thoroughly. I used a spray Rustoleum etching primer followed by black high gloss Rustoleum spray High Performance Enamel. The underside I stained with Minwax Ebony stain, and the side wood trim I painted with Valspar furniture paint. The legs I followed up with a spray Rustoleum clear topcoat. I live in Florida and due to the humidity I wanted to protect all the metal parts. I could have gotten by with only painting the legs for appearance sake. After and during final assembly I greased the hinge areas well and will apply wax to 
the hinges, legs, and brackets for additional protection to prevent rust forming again.

The top and sides, after staining and finish I followed up with Howard Feed N Wax to polish and protect.  

The brackets that hold the machine had old deteriorated leather cushion protectors. I removed these and replaced with the brushed velcro as did Still Stitching. This was very easy and the self sticking velcro worked great. My FW fits in perfectly and is protected against any scratching to the metal while inserting.

I did try the Softtouch chair tips as suggested by Still Stitching to protect the bottom of the legs but neither the 1" nor 3/4" fit properly and would not allow correct clearance when the table legs were folded.

I'm happy with the result - it's not perfect but a vast improvement and the imperfections in the top veneer blend in well. I have a smooth surface now for sewing and the leg hinges work beautifully after clean up and lubrication.

As I mentioned, this table was free and I think the owner had no use for it and did not want to bother with fixing it up. This project gave me a lot of insight on what to do for the FW table I inherited from my aunt - this one is in much better shape. I never planned on having two tables but maybe I will use both once the other one is done and I might consider doing something different with the next one - such as no stain to the veneer, etc.   

Now I’m on to get my newly acquired Singer 101’s up and running and I have a Queen Anne table with one that needs a restoration.  This project inspired me to do more cabinet work.  But once I’m done with the machines and cabinets I just really want the time to sew – wondering if this will happen! For me it seems one thing always leads to another…


  FW table before restore work.jpg  FW table veneer glue.jpg  FW table finish remove.jpg  FW table bottom before.jpg  FW table bottom done.jpg  FW table after.jpg  FW table done.jpg  FW table with FW.jpg 


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Reply with quote  #2 
Very Nice!  Well done!
Antioch, California

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Posts: 3,854
Reply with quote  #3 
Nicely done. I'm hoping Still Stitching sees this, he's a member here.


Olympia Washington
Guy Montana

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Posts: 125
Reply with quote  #4 
[thumb]  That's a nice addition to your room!!!  Its amazing what a little out put of effort can do!  You did a great job and it looks great!!
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