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Art Deco Cabinet – Some Dis-Assembly Required

Dave spent the past few days taking apart and then sanding the Art Deco sewing cabinet and bench seat that we bought for my Singer 15-91.

Art Deco Cabinet sanded

This ended up being a bigger job than he had anticipated.  Not only did all the outside surfaces need to be sanded as expected, all the inside surfaces had to be sanded as well to completely remove the unpleasant odor.

At first, we assumed the odor was due to having sat unused for so long.   We tried washing it down, inside and out.  We changed buckets of water three times and each time the water was an awful brown by the time we got finished.  Then we let it sit outside for several days to air out (bringing it back into the garage each night.)

We think the previous owners must have been very heavy smokers and over the years, the smell and cigarette fumes had soaked into the finish.

Thank goodness, now that all surfaces have been sanded the cabinet just smells like wood.

The next step is to wipe all the pieces down with a damp cloth to remove any sanding dust that the vacuum didn’t get.  Then he’ll start the refinishing by re-staining the black strips along the bottom of the cabinet and bench seat and the drawer handles.

I would be so pleased if you chose to share by clicking on one of the buttons below!


  • Sue Martin
    October 7, 2019 12:50 pm

    I have a request. I too have this cabinet and we’re refinishing. My problem is that the bottom piece of the stool storage compartment was missing. We can’t find any screw holes or anyway it would have been mounted. Would you mind taking a picture of how that piece was held in place and sending it to me or posting it? I would be so grateful!

  • Wendy Zweifel
    September 14, 2017 7:42 am

    I just inherited my this exact cabinet and singer 15-91, it was my grandmothers. I’ve been looking at your posts the job that was done is beautiful. I was wondering what you used for the finish. Did you stain and poly or just poly. And I’d love to know what exact products too. Thank you!

  • Cindy
    February 17, 2016 8:50 pm

    I was searching for information on the cabinet I just purchased and ran onto your posts. I have one of these grand cabinets and a singer 15-91 too! I am very excited to refinish my cabinet as it has been painted an avocado green. Your husband did a fabulous job!

  • Phil
    April 16, 2012 5:27 pm

    I am trying to do the same job, and wondered what the ‘secret’ is to getting the right hand drawers out. Thanks.

    • supermom
      April 17, 2012 7:11 am

      Hello Phil,

      If you look in the back of each drawer, in the bottom of the drawer there is a 1/4″ hole… pull the drawer fully open and take a small screwdriver that will fit in the hole and push down through the hole to release the spring lock. Pull the drawer out while pushing down on the screwdriver and it should come right out.

      To reinsert the drawer, line it up and it should slide right in. Make sure to mark each drawer for location in the cabinet as each can be slightly different in size and alignment and should go back where they came from.

      If you need further help, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  • Amy, a redeemed sheep
    July 2, 2011 10:14 am

    It will be beautiful and worth all the extra effort. =)

    My hubby may have caught the bug, too. He looks for them when we go to the thrift stores.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying, “Hi.”

  • Nancy D.
    June 18, 2011 12:33 pm

    Murphy’s Oil Soap, straight from the bottle and onto a rag will take the worst yuck and smell away. I learned that when we were using used furniture for the family cottage. The stuff is amazing and pretty cheap for what it does. I love that cabinet and I know it is going to awesome when it is finished!

  • Sandra :)
    June 17, 2011 8:50 am

    Huge job – I know that musty tarry cigarette smell and the gross colour from the wash water – I smoked for 29 years, but thankfully I quit 8 years ago! I bet the cabinet is very happy to be clean and woody smelling now, and can’t wait to be reassembled and given a “spit shine”, lol!

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