Sunday, September 13, 2015

Swapping sewing machine in cabinets

A good friend of ours ask me to swap her Kenmore sewing machine into a different cabinet. She found a real hardwood cabinet, and would prefer to use that one instead of the termite barf one which came originally with the Kenmore.

Sewing machine removed from termite barf cabinet on the left 
to be installed in the one on the right, made of solid maple.

Should be easy, most sewing machines have the same standard 9-1/2 in spacing between the hinge pins, right? Well Singers anyway, but this Kenmore is slightly different, same spacing alright but not located in the same spot and used a rather convoluted piece of hardware to hold the pins... And the size of its base is also slightly wider, bigger so cutout opening on the top would need to be enlarged. Well so much for standard... I firmly believe that the word "Standard" should be banned from our language, there is no such thing....

So, some surgery would need to be perform to accommodate it.
First I need to see how the machine fit within its own cabinet.

Then, I'll use the old top to mark the other one for the various cutout and spacing's etc. To do that, I need to take the tops out of the cabinets.

Son of a Diddley, they used Roberston (square drive) everywhere
except on the drop leaf hinges, it used Phillips!

The uses of Roberston screws indicated that the cabinet was made in Canada, so why on earth did they used Phillips only for the hinges! I hated it when you need to fetch various screwdrivers to work on the same thing in the middle of a job... Annoying! Grrrr...

So now lets line up both tops and see what need to change.

Doesn't look to much off, I tried the machine in the opening and its a tad tight.
so I will have to enlarge slightly the opening on the side 

and cut the corners more square.

Funky cutout for the machine hinges

Maple cabinet cutout, used different hinge mechanism.
But a similar contraption.

Top hinge from maple cabinet
Bottom hinge for the Kenmore machine.

They look similar (standard pins size?) Not quite, get serious!...

The one removed from the maple cabinet are slightly fatter 
and does not fit her machine.

The other fit of course :-)

Well, I'm glad I checked first cause they both required slightly different mortise to fit them. Now the fun part, I must retrofit those hinges into the maple top at the right distance and hopefully be able to avoid the big gaping hole left behind.
I will filled in those holes, but before I make any cuts to the opening on the top, I better get those hinges right, since it may shift the machine a smidgen left or right once installed.

Transferring my marks around, it look like I could reused the 
hinges holes on the right hand-side.

Not bad. Hummm I wonder?

Temporarily screw in the hinges using the existing holes
Pretty close, it fits. I like that.

So now the plan (C) is to fit one hinge in its cutout, and offset the other one from it to ensure it fit correctly and once the machine is in, I'll see what need to be widened where for it to drop down.

While I was in the drop leaf removal business, I took off the hinges from my wife new parlor cabinet to fixed them. The poor drop leaf has been bend out of shape, on the hinges. Someone sat on it???

Poor hinges are really bent out of shape.

That was a quick fix, squeezed tight in the metal vise then gently tapped with a ball peen hammer to straighten them on the anvil face.

Got to use an old Record Panavise No 74 that came in the garage
 when we bought the house, how cool is that! :-)

Then re-installed. I even used my old London pattern screwdriver on the screws, fitted like a charm :-)

Playing on three different cabinets and I had to used: Roberston Green, Robertson Red, Phillips No 2, and two sizes of flat screwdrivers... Seessh. I think it is a conspiracy from the cabinetmakers and the screwdrivers people to make us buy more screwdrivers, and just when you thought we had them all, another type shows up and you buy it, never to see that one and only fastener it works on.

Psst Anyone want to buy this Cluthe screwdriver?
Very little use, its an Xcelite Model G-3164

Now I have to do some butt scratching while I figure out how I'm going to cut those hinges recess in the maple top...

Bob, fixing sewing machines cabinetry.


  1. I expect only one thing to be standard nowedays that is the needles. The little spool under the needle (where you have to put the second tread) is not the same on the Singer and on my Toyota.

  2. You bet Ralph, I don't want to have to make a new top...
    And I thought it would be a simple swap :-)

  3. Hi Sylvain.
    Sorry, there are various needles shanks for Singer and etc...
    Similarly most Singer used what they referred to as class 15 or 66 for these bobbins.
    And then the real older ones, like her 27-3 treadle machine used yet another system using a shuttle with a small elongated spool inside (vibrating shuttle) The dead gives away is the long contraption that ride on the belt to rewind those spools. Bobbins are preferred since they hold more threads.