Restoration Project – Kling Desk

No progress or updates on the Singer treadle sewing machine. Instead, I’ve flipped the switch a bit and present to you my recently finished project, a solid mahogany Kling desk. I fought my instincts to refinish in the original dark color stain and took direction from my daughter Kate. Since the desk is for her use, and not for resale, it made sense to tailor to her taste. The picture doesn’t do justice to how well it turned out. “Out of the mouth of babes…”
I dropped the ball a bit as I did not take a “before” picture. About the same time we found the treadle machine my daughter saw a 30’s period desk with a glass top. However, it was in poor shape and had some deep scratches and gouges so I decided to pass. A few weeks ago I discovered this desk at our local Goodwill, hidden under the shelves with junk piled on top of it. It was dark and had some surface finish damage, but it looked well made.
I always open the drawers to look for some kind of I.D. and to check for indications of good workmanship. This one had dovetail joints, and the drawers closed flush. The piece also had some nice raised detail. I found a round brass plate inside the center drawer, indicating that the desk was made by Kling Furniture. The round plate dates the desk to around 1936-1945. A rectangular plate would date a Kling piece between 1946-1962.
My instructions were to paint the desk white, except for the top, which I planned to lightly sand to remove the water damage, and stain to match the original dark finish. Kate removed the hardware, then cleaned and masked the drawers and top to prepare for painting. I used a light coat of primer, then two coats of carefully applied antique white paint. I hand sanded the top then wiped with oil-based Minwax stain. It turned out poorly, so I pulled out my sander and carefully sanded the top down to the bare wood and removed all marks, and switched to a fine grit to get a smooth surface.
I brushed on a pre-stain sealer, let it penetrate for a few minutes, then wiped off the excess. I followed that with oil-based Minwax Red Mahogany stain which I also brushed on and wiped off with a clean cloth. Allowing it to dry for a couple of days, I sealed the finish with three coats of Johnson’s Paste Wax. After buffing with a clean cloth the end result was a beautiful uniform color and shine. Eighty years of tarnish were removed from the original solid brass hardware using a couple of applications of Brasso, a soft cloth, and a soft tooth brush while rinsing off the brass cleaner. Once returned to their original luster and mounted back on the drawers, the transformation was complete.


Restoration Project – Singer Treadle Machine

I’m a jack of all trades with a soft spot for old radios, furniture, and great pieces of Americana like this Singer treadle sewing machine circa 1925. I picked it up for forty bucks at half-price sticker sale at local Goodwill, and hope to get it in working condition. It’s almost too well preserved to be considered a restoration project. The treadle is in perfect condition, with no rust or chipped paint, and fully operational. There is some fading and alligatoring to the paint on machine, but all of the stenciling is intact, as are the nameplates. The cabinet has a small water damaged spot that lifted some of the laminate, but overall the cabinet is original and in good shape.

So, restoration should consist of some light cleaning of the sewing machine unit, careful refinishing of the cabinet, and the biggest challenge will be getting the machine to work, especially since I know nothing about sewing machines.

Stay tuned…


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