Nice Legs

Posted: February 5, 2012 in Piano

The skills acquired as a piano technician include furniture refinishing. I can’t help it — I love working with wood. The restoration process is very challenging and borrows from many acquired skills.

On this project I was asked to replace the legs on a sewing machine case.

The cabinet is upside down on my bench in the photo above. All of the legs broke at the same place.  I bought four pieces of stock wood and used my pocket knife to whittle four new legs. It took about an hour.*

I tried to find a close match to the original color. Finding none, I got as close as possible.

Meanwhile, I opened the cabinet, cleaned the sewing machine, and oiled it as recommended in the service manual.

I went with a primer+base paint for the legs, and finished off with a satin finish.

I added steel skid pads to each leg.

Tomorrow I will assemble the unit and post a photo of the finished cabinet.

*No, I did not whittle the legs. I used a table leg manufacturer. :)


My customer is happy to have access once again to her sewing machine.


Those legs sure are skinny. It is typical among older sewing machine tables that the legs are vulnerable to breakage. The cause rests with the weight of the sewing machine. That makes the table top heavy.  As the table is repositioned on the floor, there is more torque being exerted from the top.  A better design would include a sturdy 2 x 2 leg and a set of mortised rails on the back and sides. However, such construction would not agree with the American Colonial style. I left instructions on how to move this table: never scoot it across the floor. It must be lifted if it is to be relocated or moved.  The legs are sufficient to hold the fixed weight but they may snap again if care is not taken when the table is moved.

I consulted with no less than three paint specialists as I tried to match the color. I think this must be the most difficult aspect of restoration.  The number of color variations among hues, sheen, glaze, stain, dye, and paint is infinite: a perfectionist’s nightmare. Sometimes a complementary color is the best, and only choice.


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