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Singer Model 12 Fiddlebase Handcrank Sewing Machine

Friday, December 27, 2013
I found this Singer 12 handcrank sewing machine from 1874 on Ebay and couldn't resist buying a piece of history.

Do you know what 1874 looked like?
Here's some pictures from that year.

This machine didn't come with a manual, after all, it is 139-years-old!  Can you believe that!?

I have a Singer 12K manual that is basically the same machine but a treadle.  Download it here.
The machine has a really cool bentwood case.

It has a latch on the left-side that you can put a lock on.  I find it interesting that most older machines have locks... you wouldn't want anyone using your machine without permission!

I love the shape of the fiddlebase machines.. they look really cool!

The hand crank is the same idea as a treadle machine where you create the motion for the gears.  It is a little harder to sew with compared to a treadle because you only have one hand for working with your fabric.  The handle folds down to make room for the lid.

Top view.

Underside.  Being able to lift up the machine makes cleaning and oiling a breeze as well as any maintenance.

One thing to be aware of is that these machines take different needles than the universal needles modern machines take.  The are much longer and the shank is more narrow and completely round without a flat side.  These are extremely rare if you're looking for original needles, but if you want to buy reproductions I found a lady on Etsy who sells them.

It can be tricky inserting the needles in just the right spot because there isn't a needle-stop and sometimes no clear markings of how far to insert the needle.  The groove of the needle should be facing towards you - use trial/error to get the needle in just the right spot by sewing test runs.  Once you get it in the right spot you can mark where you have it with a black sharpie on the needle bar.

The manual can be a little hard to follow along so I am including how-to's for winding a bobbin, threading the shuttle and threading the top thread and fixing tension.

Engage your bobbin winder against the handwheel and tighten the set screw.  With your thread set on the spool pin, bring the thread end around the hook at the front of the machine and over to the inside of the cup of the spooler.

Insert the end of your bobbin into the cup of the spooler with the thread in between - this will anchor the thread when you start winding.

While you crank with your right hand, hold your thread with the left and move it from side to side slowly as the bobbin fills.  The manual says to build up the sides of the bobbin more with thread.

 Hold the bobbin so the thread is coming from the backside to the bottom.
 Insert it into the shuttle with the thread coming from underneath towards the small holes on the left side of the shuttle.
Take the end of the thread over the bobbin to the other side of the shuttle to the 2 long slots.  Put it through the one on the bottom first and back through the top one back over towards the holes on the other side.
Put your thread through the first hole closest to the blunt end of the shuttle.
Put the thread through the last hole by the point...
...If you need a tighter tension go through more holes but make sure you always end on the last hole by the point, whether it's exiting from the outside or inside.
Put the thread under the tension clip by threading it down.

Insert the shuttle into the machine.

You should be able to thread your machine just by this picture.  Make sure to thread your needle from front to back.

 You can clearly see from the loops on the underside of my fabric that the top tension is too loose.

Tighten it be twisting the tension screw (the bar closest to you) clockwise.

You can see the seam coming out of the machine is now perfect!

Re-Use Glass Jars

I don't know if you have a hard time throwing away those glass jars that companies use to sell their products in.  I finally found a use for them and I love how they look in my house!

Use hot water to soak off the label and peel it off.

Goo Gone is the #1 trick in getting the glue residue off left from the label.

I used a pickle jar and jalepeno jar for our cotton balls and q-tips in the bathroom.

I used an applesauce jar on my nightstand for some artificial stemmed roses.

Woodshop Tool Storage System Project

Monday, December 23, 2013
I had tools scattered around the house and it was driving me crazy!  I looked online for peg storage systems and came upon this downloadable building plan for a tool storage system on Amazon.
I love the idea of stacking my large tools in one cabinet and have them bolted to the shelves that slide out and sit on the little cabinet for when you need to use them.  The peg board on the sides were just what I needed for all my wood tools.

I compared lumber at Home Depot, Lowe's and our local lumber yard, Fingerlie and I decided to get most of my wood at Fingerlie because it was much better quality.  Plus, I wanted to do a thicker 1/4"-thick peg board instead of the 3/16" the plan called for and the big box stores didn't carry it.

It took me 2 days to gather the wood and hardware.  Harbor Freight had the best price for caster wheels and peg hooks.

I have a great neighbor and friend who not only let me use his woodshop but he mentored me through the building process.  Here I am, SO happy on the first day after we cut all the wood to size, made the lap joints and rabbits.  It was my first time doing lap joints - now I need my own set of dado blades!

I spent 3 days at the shop and we were able to complete the large cabinet and glue all the shelves together.

I brought everything home and still had quite a bit of work to do.

I assembled the small cabinet together by first doing the sides and then the stretchers, back, bottom and top.

At this point I was pre-drilling for the caster wheels and wood filling over the screws and any imperfections.

I waited 2 days for it to stop raining so I could sand outside.. those were the longest days of my life!  My husband helped me take everything downstairs and I sanded in the basement (with lots of cleanup).

Here's everything sanded and assembled!  I'm so happy with how it turned out!

You can see here the large shelves sit nicely on strips of wood that anchor to the sides with carriage bolts and wing nuts.

The shelves pull out easily and sit on the small cabinet.

Here's a close-up of the lap joint.

The cart has great storage too with an adjustable shelf and moves easily with the caster wheels.

I can't wait until I have my own shop to put these in!  From this project I also decided that I need a drill press.. those things drill holes like butter!

Here's my next project (click here):

Repairs on a 1903 Steger & Son's Piano

Sunday, December 15, 2013
I bought this amazingly beautiful 1903 Steger & Son's piano recently.  It is the coolest piano I have ever seen with a great sound and original ivory keys.  Being that it is over 100-years-old it had some broken parts.  I looked into how much it would be to get a piano restored professionally and it was the cost of a luxury car.

Overall, cosmetically it is very good with no huge dings, scratches or imperfections.

You can see the wood panel that is raised in the picture above where there is a wood cutout.  When I got the piano, that cutout was failing off and was being held in place with duct tape of all things!  I took out all the screws and cleaned up the track the cutout was sitting in and applied some wood glue and clamps to hold in place before screwing back in place.

The biggest issue of all was the 3 hinges that held the lid on top to the piano. The hinges were broken and useless and the lid was sliding everywhere getting scratched up.  I really wanted to keep all the parts original to the piano but failed to find a metal shop that could customize just the one part of the hinge that I needed so I could keep the other side of the decorative hinge.  I took it to a metal shop and they said the original hinges were pot metal and you can't weld anything to it and it really isn't good metal for strength and durability.

I came to the best conclusion I could think of.  I found hinges that were the same width as the broken hinge and cut off part of the decorative hinge so it would still have part of the originality.  I sanded the hinges and spray painted them so the old and new would match.

I really debated whether or not I wanted to do this, but ended up sawing out a little wood to get the new hinges to fit because they were a bit longer.

I'm so happy to have the lid attached to the piano and think it turned out as good as I could have done by myself.

Now the lid can be propped up with the little 'stands' on each side and the sound is beautiful when it's open.

I bought an old key that locks the piano so my sweet little children and their friends can't pound on the piano (yikes)!

I did research and found that piano's back in this age didn't come with benches because the dresses women wore were only accommodated with small stools where they could put their skirt around.

I didn't feel bad altering the bench because it isn't original.  After looking at it, it wasn't perfect by any means and was so tall that my feet barely reached the pedals and my legs were squished between the bench and piano.  I chopped 2 inches off the legs and it feels so much better.

The hinges that were on it look like dainty little jewelry box hinges.  They were bent and warped.  To accommodate my new-sturdy hinges I needed to cut out the wood from the top of the bench.  It looked like it was cut before for other hinges then someone glued the wood back in place.  The legs stuck out so much that I wouldn't have been able to open the lid so I had to round off the top of the legs.

I was able to do all the cutting with my oscillating tool from Harbor Freight and it feels so good to have it done!

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