All about sewing machine cabinets
October 18, 2009 8:08 PM   Subscribe

So I've been coveting a sewing machine cabinet for a couple of reasons. They're expensive, but I find affordable used ones at a local thrift store and on craigslist pretty regularly. However, I don't know what I'm doing!

Does anyone have any advice on:

- choosing a cabinet (I'll probably have to evict an older machine, will try to get one with a non-working non-antique machine in it to reduce the guilt)

- installing the machine? I wrote to my machine's manufacturer (Singer) to make sure it can be installed in a cabinet, and they said I'll have to buy a couple of little parts. The manual didn't have anything about this, and I'm still not sure how this is generally done.

- operating the lift?

Note that I do not sew well or often, and am trying to protect the machine and get it out of the way (and out of sight) without just adding a big useless lump of machine-in-a-case.
posted by dilettante to Grab Bag (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you're getting a cabinet with a machine in it, you'll be able to examine how that machine is attached in order to figure out how to attach yours. Generally there are some screws involved (and receptacles for them).

Also, what model Singer do you have? I'm only familiar with the models my mother and I have (mostly from the 30s) so I'm not sure any more detailed info as to how mine attaches would be useful for you.

One more comment: the cabinet I've got, plus my 1938 singer, are the heaviest item of furniture I own. If you're likely to move in the future, you'll want to make sure you know not just how to install the machine, but how to remove it, because moving a cabinet with a machine still in it would be pretty irritating. (YMMV if your machine is younger; the non-featherweight singers from that era are just very heavy machines).
posted by nat at 9:39 PM on October 18, 2009

Most sewing cabinets have a couple of hinged pins that go into drilled holes in the machine bed casting, and are fixed by a couple of screws through the bed casting at 90 degrees to the cabinet pins. The distance between the pins, and the overall dimensions for machines vary, and are usually made up by custom drop plates that support the machine in the up position. The problem with buying any old cabinet off Craigslist or eBay, is that these wooden drop plates have usually already been cut for some other machines' outline profile, unless you get lucky, and find one with a pattern that fits your machine. So, you may have to cut and fit new drop plates, too. Using the old ones as a raw material guide, and the base plate of your machine as a pattern for the machine specific cutout, this is something a moderately skilled do-it-yourselfer, with a jig saw, a router, and a drill could do in a few hours, using 5/8 or 3/4 inch thick luan veneered marine grade plywood as a material. A little stain and lacquer to match the cabinet woodwork color, and most people won't be able to tell it ever housed anything but your machine.
posted by paulsc at 11:15 PM on October 18, 2009

I'd asked this question elsewhere as well, and between answers here and there, and my email from Singer, have pieced together a bit more. When you look at the ads/descriptions on the new cabinets they usually say "fits machines from [x] inches" or something similar. I had hoped the old cabinets would be the same. I know from my email to Singer that I have to have a cabinet that fits a free-arm machine (although mine does not seem to be any such thing), but I can't find out when those began to be produced, either. Pretty sure now that it was at some point after the Singer Touch&Sew 638, which is what currently inhabits a cabinet I'd had my eye on.

Bah. The newer cabinets are expensive, and ugly to boot.
posted by dilettante at 2:13 PM on October 19, 2009

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