I have repurposed a lot of sewing cabinets, but I turned this sewing cabinet into a secretary desk! Of course you could use it as a library table, or maybe in a nook, perhaps in your kitchen. I found my inspiration for this sewing cabinet turned secretary desk on Pinterest. But upon closer inspection of the pin, I noticed it is actually dollhouse furniture!! Too funny!
FARMHOUSE SECRETARY DESK MADE FROM OLD SEWING CABINET
Let’s see how the new piece came together.
First, I had to dig in the wood shed for a victim. It’s definitely time to organize this place where projects wait for their makeover!
I suppose it could be in worse shape, mostly it just needs cleaning up. What you can’t see from this picture is how H.E.A.V.Y this thing is! I was barely able to drag it out of storage.
DISMANTLE OLD SEWING CABINET
The price tag might say $25, but I know for a fact, I would never pay that much for a project piece.
The plan was to work on this project in the basement shop. But, as it was—there was no way I could carry this thing all that way. Step one was to start dismantling the soon to be secretary desk. So, I got busy removing the hinged top.
Next, I got busy removing the frame that actually held the sewing machine. Do you see that stamp? Inspected by Clarence Bennet? That’s quality job 1, when a person was willing to put their name on their work. But—you’ll see later that Clarence may not have had his head in the game this day.
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These small pieces were glued in order to help secure the sewing machine frame. I used a painter’s tool to break the glue seal.
That’s better! If you take your time, your sewing cabinet will be perfect for it’s new use, in this case, a secretary desk!
DIRECTIONS FOR DISMANTLING SEWING CABINET LID
When the sewing machine lid is opened, there is this brace that keeps the lid from getting too stressed. It isn’t difficult to remove IF you know how!
The last time I worked on a lid like this, I didn’t see this tiny screw on the side. I almost messed the lid up trying to pry the brace out. LOOK for the little screw to remove.
Do you see how long that little screw is? I won’t bother to fill the slotted area, as the bottom of the lid will not be visible. But at least that brace is out of the way.
HOW TO CLEAN OLD FURNITURE
This old thing was really, really dirty. I chose to clean it with TSP substitute and a rag.
So, now the lid was ready for cleaning. Check out how nasty that rag is. After cleaning with the TSP substitute, I realized that the varnish was in rough shape and I would need to sand the top of the secretary desk/repurposed sewing machine.
Isn’t that looking better? The top is now smooth and ready to move to the basement shop for it’s makeover into a new secretary desk.
INSPECT THRIFT STORE FURNITURE
Okay, now we’re in the basement shop, getting serious about turning this sewing cabinet into a secretary desk. I’m about to reattach the top . . . as I’m checking to make sure it’s even on all sides, I notice a problem with the leg. Do you see it? The leg on the right has some detail on it, but the leg on the left is plain! This is why I think Clarence was off his game on the day he inspected this cabinet.
I didn’t take a picture, but the matching leg is on the back left side!
Luckily, the leg was really easy to switch out. All I had to do was loosen a couple of screws and slide the leg upward.
REATTACH ORIGINAL LID TO MAKE SECRETARY DESK
I reused the original screws to attach the sewing cabinet lid, which is now the new top to the secretary desk.
Don’t you think it looks so much better without that extra piece in the way? Back in the day, when I did another makeover, I just glued the lid down. But ever since then, I’ve made it a practice to remove that extra piece.
ADD SHELF AND DETAILED BRACKETS
This is where it gets really fun for me. I never draw plans, I just start adding bits and pieces until I get the look I want. Using two different shelf brackets, I try to figure out which I like best. The shelf piece is from a parted out dresser. I had 4 drawer fronts in my stash that were perfect!
It looks like the smaller brackets are going to work best. This is just a dry fit as I figure out a plan for assembling the shelf that will turn the sewing machine cabinet into a secretary desk!!
Looking at all the different wood tones, interestingly allows you to see how it all comes together. After it’s all painted, it’s all going to come together.
SAND PIECES BEFORE INSTALLING
I chose to sand all the pieces to remove the shine before assembling the top portion of the secretary desk.
ASSEMBLE SECRETARY DESK SHELF USING POCKET HOLE JOINERY
Using the Kreg Jig was an easy decision. To be honest, it was a little challenging figuring out the placement of the pocket holes. If you look closely, you will see I changed my mind a couple of times. I marked the “top” “bottom” and “back” on all the pieces.
In this image, the shelf is upside down, ready to attach the back.
Diluted dish soap is very handy to keep in your shop. It’s great for washing hands, and there’s no need for rinsing. Here, I used it on a rag to wipe away excess wood glue.
PATCH POCKET HOLES WITH DRYWALL MUD
I chose to patch the interior pocket holes before attaching the secretary shelf. Typically, I use drywall mud for filling holes.
Because, the shelf doesn’t allow room to use a drill, the pocket holes that will attach it to the secretary desk are on the outside of the shelf supports. Not shown, I added shelf brackets to add detail to the secretary desk.
The pocket holes were patched with drywall mud.
After sanding the drywall dust was in all the crevices, I used a clean soft paintbrush to wipe away all the dust.
READY FOR PAINT AND GLAZE
It’s always best to paint the underneath side of your project, especially if you’re going to re-home it.
This is after a couple of light coats of chalky paint.
ADD NEW HARDWARE | BIN PULLS
DARK GRAY GLAZED FARMHOUSE SECRETARY DESK
The bin pulls were silver, I painted them black. That jig really makes it so much easier to install cabinet hardware!!
The chair sits a little high, but with the little drawer open, there’s plenty of leg room. Can you imagine if I hadn’t noticed the wrong leg in the front. Surely I would have noticed it in these final pictures. This small farmhouse style secretary desk would be perfect as a laptop station, bill paying center or simply a small side table anywhere!
This old chair needed some work, I may detail that in another post.
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