Have you ever seen a sewing desk waiting for a new life, but you didn’t know what to do with it? Even though I love to sew, these old desks aren’t able to hold our new sewing machines without a lot of changes made to the desk. If you are lucky enough to find a sewing desk, with a working sewing machine AND you love to sew but don’t have a working machine, this would be a gold mine! But there are few that fit into that description.
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SO what do you do? Well, you’ve come to the right place! And the fix is easier than you would think!
Open up the hinged top of the desk and unscrew the hinges until it is detached from the desk. Once it is detached, you will easily be able to flip the whole desk over onto it’s top without worrying about the hinged top opening up on you.
Next remove the screws that are holding the top onto the base and legs. I have seen one where the base had pocket holes with screws holding on the top, and another where the corner braces holding on the legs also had screws holding on the top. Either way, find the screws that are holding your top piece on and unscrew those.
You should now have three pieces. The top part that used to open up, the top part with the big sewing machine hole, and the base with the legs attached.
Because there used to be hinges on the top swinging piece, (if you haven’t removed them, do so now) there are some holes that need to be filled in. Mix up a bit of Bondo and fill in the holes with your putty knife. I use the multi-purpose Bondo. It comes with a can and a little tube of hardener. Follow the ratio and directions on the can, but don’t make it until you are ready to slather it into your holes. Making sure to keep it as smooth as possible so you don’t have to sand extra once it is dry. Bondo stinks, so make sure you are outside in a well ventilated area, but this stuff sure works wonders where wood filler can’t.
Once the Bondo is dry, (give it at least a couple of hours, depending on your climate and how much hardener you mixed in) get out your electric sander (hand sanding would take AGES!!) and go to work making it all level and smooth.
You can now attach the top part (that doesn’t have the big hole) onto the base. Simply use the hardware and screws that held the old top (the one with a huge hole) onto the base. Make sure to measure and line it up so your new top is centered on the base.
That’s all there is to it! Now go grab your paint and create something beautiful!
For this particular desk, I used Sweet Pickins Milk Paint in Curry and Minwax Gel Stain in Aged Oak.
To get a crisp clean look, I taped off the top of the legs so no paint got to them.
To get a more crackling old look I brushed on a coat of shellac, then right away brushed on Sweet Pickins Milk Paint. After 2 coats it was perfect. I used my clean putty knife to get it to chip a bit and removed the tape from the legs.
After wiping down the legs I used an old cut up shirt to apply the Gel Stain. I wiped stain on, and after a couple of minutes, wiped some of it back off with a cleaner rag.
Once dry, it all received 3 coats of Varethane Polyurethane in Satin.
See gel stain in action with this tutorial on how to stain wood darker.
The chair was another find from a different day, but you would never know that it wasn’t made to go with the desk. Since the chair was the same color of wood as the desk originally was, it received the same treatment as the desk legs.
This table is now ready to be a small desk, perfect for a child or teenager, or even a tall nightstand for your tall bed -OR- even a small entry table! There are so many possibilities with these old sewing desks!
What would you do with a re-purposed sewing desk?