How do I fix this varnish (shellac?)

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psh17
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How do I fix this varnish (shellac?)

Postby psh17 » Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:16 pm

This morning I was given a 1936 Singer treadle sewing machine (15-88). It's GORGEOUS.

The exterior is okay. There are some faded parts and water damage, but after a day of Googling I think using Howard Restor-A-Finish is the right thing to do on most of it. Most of the inside of the lid, top and bottom, is okay, but the back edge is not pretty.

It's like this at the back edge of both sides of the lid part.

Image
Image

Will Restor-A-Finish work on this, or should I do something else?

Thanks in advance!!

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Bob Boardman
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Re: How do I fix this varnish (shellac?)

Postby Bob Boardman » Sun Apr 11, 2021 8:19 am

First test to see if it's shellac. Rub a small spot with a Q tip dipped in denatured alcohol (rubbing alcohol may work, but has water in it). If the area comes off, dissolves or gets sticky, it's shellac.

If so Howards may work, but the pro's would proceed as follows.

1) scrape/sand any loose pieces and vacuum up dust
2) at hardware or paint store get a shellac product called Sealcoat. Use a clean brush to apply a light coat of the shellac to just the areas that have no finish. Don't try to make this look like perfect - that is, don't go over an area once you put shellac there, don't put on a heavy cost, etc. The only thing you want to accomplish is to get some shellac on the bare spots - don't worry about how it looks
3)Make a ball out of an 8” x 8” piece of cotton from an old, worn t-shirt that has just come out of the dryer (dryer reduces any lint). Place this ball inside a bigger 12" x 12" piece of cotton. Wrap the bigger piece of cloth around the smaller one, wrapping the extra around your index finger – this is called your “rubber”.
4) Add some denatured alcohol (not rubbing alcohol) to the rubber and pat it against the palm of your hand (this is called "charging the pad or rubber"). You want the pad to be damp, not wet.
5) Using a pendulum type motion to have the rubber touch the surface & come right off...almost like a plane coming in for a landing and then taking off again. Do this to the entire top. DO NOT LET THE PAD STOP ON THE SURFACE. The trick is to dampen the cloth just enough so it leaves the appearance of a comet’s tail of evaporating alcohol trailing as you wipe. (You can practice by wiping across a more resistant surface such as plastic laminate.) If the pad starts to stick, then charge it again.
6) By doing this you'll be able to:
- blend the new shellac with the old
- level any brush marks that are there
- add a slight bit of shine to the entire surface
Bob "Boardman" Borders

psh17
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Re: How do I fix this varnish (shellac?)

Postby psh17 » Sun Apr 11, 2021 12:14 pm

I think I can manage this - the pendulum and comet tail descriptions are especially helpful!

I'm trying to find denatured alcohol locally with no luck. Has it got a different name in Canada? Google didn't know, but some other boards I found suggested 'methyl hydrate'?

Also, what is the benefit to doing the entire surface? The front portions of the inside of the sewing area are in beautiful shape - I wouldn't touch them at all if not for the bad portion at the back; about 10-15% of the surface needs this degree of help.

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Re: How do I fix this varnish (shellac?)

Postby psh17 » Sun Apr 11, 2021 12:18 pm

I have a Lee Valley store locally if that is helpful to know as far as products I can get.

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Bob Boardman
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Re: How do I fix this varnish (shellac?)

Postby Bob Boardman » Fri May 07, 2021 9:04 am

Sometimes it's called "methylated spirits"
Bob "Boardman" Borders


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