Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle

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For this Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle, we used the drawers from an old Singer to make a rolling storage solution for our craft room!

Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle

A couple of winters ago, I got a message from an old friend and coworker. Her mother had just passed, and she was faced with the difficult task of cleaning out her mother’s home in southwestern Connecticut. Not wanting all of her mother’s possessions (and her memories) to be sold to strangers, Paulina asked if Handan and I would be interested in taking some of the pieces to use and work on for the blog.

We agreed!

Some of the furniture we put to use as-is, other pieces are marked for future projects, and one was just perfect for our craft room makeover.

This beautiful antique Singer sewing machine served Paulina’s mom for decades.

antique singer sewing machine

It was well-loved and well-used. It would have needed some work to make it functional again as-is, but Handan knew that we could do something awesome with those antique sewing machine drawers.

She kept those drawers in mind as the months ticked by. They had to fill a need. The project had to make sense and fulfill a purpose.

And my babes just found their purpose!

Our craft room makeover is all about storage solutions, big and small.

I just showed you our big solution with the West Elm inspired DIY storage towers, and these little drawers are a perfect small-item storage solution.

Let’s have a look at how we did it.

Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle

So I’ve told you many times how bananas Handan is about ornate picture frames. What I haven’t told is that she is equally bonkers about spindles.

And I mean loony, ladies!

Yep, we’ve got spindles coming out the wazoo, and that’s no place for a spindle!


Anyway, for 6 years, my babes has been chopping spindles off everything from baby cribs to broken headboards to beaten-up hutches. Of course, when I say, “my babes has been chopping,” I mean I’ve been chopping… under direct orders from ze Commandant.

And what has my beloved babes done with the hundreds of spindles squirreled in every nook and cranny of our basement?

Well, there was this gilded bowl centerpiece, for one.

Gilded Bowl Centerpiece | DIY Centerpieces for home | Centerpiece ideas for tables | Floating candle centerpiece bowl | DIY crackled gilding | How to gild | Inexpensive DIY centerpieces | Table centerpieces | Upcycled spindle | Repurposed spindle | Spindle crafts | #TheNavagePatch #DIY #DIYHomedecor #Tablescapes #Centerpieces #Upcycling #Repurposed |

And then there was this tiered stand she made.

DIY Tiered Stand | How to make Victorian style tiered stand | How to use decorative metal straps | Diy home decor | Diy chalk paint | Homemade chalk paint recipe | Painted and antiqued home decor | Annie Sloan Old White color | Cheap & easy crafts | Simple woodworking | Spindle craft ideas |

But other than that?

Yep, a whole lotta nuthin’ on the spindle front!

6 years of intensive spindle farming and only two measly projects to show for it!

Who here wants my babes and me to make more spindle projects? Let us know in the comments!

No Spindle Left Behind!

That’s my new slogan and the platform I’m running on as a candidate for Blogger-in-Chief!

To prove my commitment to our new Spindle Initiative, I shall incorporate them into this antique sewing machine drawer upcycle!

Here’s what we started with.

antique sewing machine drawers and spindles

Now, those spindles were too long for what we needed, so I cut them to size.

And guess what?

This created 8 spindles where once there were 4.

So even after this project, we still have the same number of spindles hiding in our basement!


Anyway, the idea was to make a rolling storage cart for the antique sewing machine drawers using spindles and some 1/2 inch plywood.

But first, we had to attend to the drawers. Time and use had taken their toll (just like on me.)

I removed the frame around the top of each drawer cabinet.

working on an antique sewing machine drawer upcycle
working on an antique sewing machine drawer upcycle

Next, I removed the drawers. You may have noticed in the earlier photo that one of the drawers was missing a chunk. We figured I’d have to sculpt a replacement from scrap wood and glue it in place.

But as I prepared to repair one of the broken cabinets…


working on an antique sewing machine drawer upcycle

The missing piece!

working on an antique sewing machine drawer upcycle


working on an antique sewing machine drawer upcycle

Fits like a glove!

working on an antique sewing machine drawer upcycle

That piece had fallen off before, as evidenced by the dried glue on it and on the drawer.

We scraped off the old glue as best we could, and then I glued it back together with super glue. Wood glue wouldn’t work well, since the wood pores were already sealed off from Paulina’s mom’s earlier attempts to fix this pesky little drawer.

Gluing a part of old sewing machine drawers
Gluing a part of old sewing machine drawers

Insta-Set accelerator is the best! They’re not at all kidding about the instant part!

Gluing a part of old sewing machine drawers

Good as new! Paulina’s mom would be proud!

Gluing a part of old sewing machine drawers

One of the drawer cabinets was coming apart at the seams.

Gluing a part of old sewing machine drawers
Gluing a part of old sewing machine drawers

So we used a little glue…

Gluing a part of old sewing machine drawers
Gluing a part of old sewing machine drawers

And…can you guess??


Brad nails!

Good guess, smarty pants!

fixing an old sewing machine cabinet

With the repair work done, we started in on the build.

We have very specific plans for this little antique sewing machine drawer cart, not only for what it will store but also for where it will live in our craft room.

Though it can be moved anywhere since it’ll be on wheels, we designed it primarily to fit in two places:

  1. Underneath our DIY Craft Table
  2. Against a wall that is 16 inches wide

With that in mind, I cut 3 pieces of 1/2 inch plywood to 16 inches wide by 14 3/4 inches deep. This included a 1/2 inch overhang all around.

I marked a line around two pieces of plywood (the top and the middle piece), 1/2 inch in from the edge, and then I sanded the sharp edges from all 3 pieces (no more rough edges or tear-out when cutting plywood thanks to this little miracle!)

sanding plywood

Then I applied some wood glue all around the bottoms of the drawer cabinets.

applying glue to the bottom of an antique sewing machine drawer cabinet

After smearing the glue around with my finger, I positioned the two cabinets on the lines I had drawn around the plywood.

building storage cart from antique sewing machine drawers
building storage cart from antique sewing machine drawers

I put some clamps to hold everything together, and then I carefully flipped it over. Note that it is actually upside-down in the picture below.

building a storage cart from antique sewing machine drawers

I shot a bunch of brad nails to secure the plywood to the cabinets, and then we flipped it back over again.

Someone’s sure satisfied with his little project!

man posing with project
Never trust a man who hugs a bunch of drawers and smiles. Heโ€™s up to something.

Next up – the top!

Just like I did with the middle piece, I smeared glue around the tops of the cabinets.

putting glue on old sewing machine cabinets

And then I inverted everything so I could position it on the plywood.

building a cart from old sewing machine drawers
building a cart from old sewing machine drawers

I clamped it up…

working on an antique sewing machine upcycle

And flipped it over. In case you’re getting lost, it is now right-side up.

working on an antique sewing machine upcycle

The next trick was to attach the spindles and bottom piece of plywood.

And it was tricky problem as we didn’t have double-sided screws! (But we figured it out.)

First, I drilled pilot holes through the bottom piece according to where we wanted the center of the spindles to be. The two metal blocks I’m using are makeshift guides to help me drill straight through and not at an angle.

drilling through plywood

I would need to pre-drill both ends of each spindle, as I’d be screwing into them from either side.

Before drilling, I marked the centers of each end of each spindle.

finding the center of a spindle

I pre-drilled the bottom ends of each spindle.

drilling into a spindle

Then I put a screw up through the plywood from the bottom. I used a small dab of construction adhesive on the bottom of the spindle to keep it locked in place.

attaching a spindle to plywood
attaching a spindle to a piece of plywood

In order to attach the spindles to the upper part of the cabinet, we decided the best solution was first to screw the spindles to a piece of 1/4 inch plywood that was slightly smaller than the 1/2 inch pieces and then glue and brad nail the 1/4 inch piece to the 1/2 inch. Sounds more complicated than it is.

In order to mark where the spindle centers would meet the 1/4 inch plywood (so I’d know where to drill), I cut small pieces of brad nails and gently tapped them into the marked centers on the tops of the spindles.

spindle with a nail stick from it

I then laid the piece of 1/4 inch plywood on top of the spindles. When I had it centered, I tapped the 4 corners so the brad nails punctured the plywood.

building an antique sewing machine drawer cart
building an antique sewing machine drawer cart

This showed me where I had to drill.

plywood with a hole in it

I pre-drilled the 4 brad nail holes with a countersink drill bit.

After removing the small brad nail pieces, I pre-drilled the spindles.

drilling spindle ends

I then put screws down through the holes I made in the plywood and placed it on the spindles.

building a storage cart from old sewing machine drawers

Once I had all the screws in the 4 holes, I tightened everything up.

building a storage cart

Okay, that completed the base. The next step was to join the base to the cabinet.

I flipped the cabinet over and dry-fit the base. Since the 1/4 inch plywood is smaller than the 1/2 inch, I marked around it with pencil, so I’d know where to put it after spreading some glue.

spreading glue on plywood

Then I lowered the base in position according to my pencil lines.

building a storage cart from antique sewing machine drawers
building a storage cart from antique sewing machine drawers

I shot a bunch of brad nails all around the edges, corners and randomly around the middle to keep the base firmly in place.

building a storage cart from antique sewing machine drawers

Flipping it back over, it looked like this.

Antique Sewing Machine Drawer storage cart

The only things left were to add the casters and stain the plywood, and those two activities were done without my babes to take my picture!

I color-matched as best I could by mixing Varathane Kona and Varathane Light Walnut (for the reddish tones). I cleaned the spindles, cabinet and drawers with Krud Kutter, then also wiped stain over them to further match the color.

So, what do you think? Did I nail the color?

Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle
Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle

Do you like our new small storage solution for the craft room? It’s a perfect organizer for the small tools we use all the time.

Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle
Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle

Here is one of its homes. You can see now why it had to be 16 inches wide.

Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle
Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle

And if it’s not needed for a while, and we’re not working at the Cricut Command Center, it fits perfectly underneath!

Antique Sewing Machine Drawer Upcycle

Everything in this room has been carefully thought out and designed with a purpose, since this small room needs to fill three roles: a video & photography studio, a home office and a craft room.

Now, you know who’s responsible for that, don’t you?

Lord knows I couldn’t plan my way out of an empty room with no walls, so you know it wasn’t me! ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, folks, little by little we’re getting closer to our craft room makeover reveal!

Stay tuned for more!

If youโ€™re following along with the craft room makeover, hereโ€™s how we stand:

Craft Room Makeover Checklist

Click here to see more craft room makeover posts as we continue to cross items off our checklist!

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  1. You guys make an amazing team ๐Ÿ™‚ I love this piece; it’s ‘sew’ appropriate for a craft room. If I had any more room, I would have to make one too. But who know, maybe I can squeeze it in elsewhere. Now excuse me while I look for those drawers!

  2. Greg- Awesome project as usual! It’s so nice to be able to reuse and appreciate those beautiful drawers… Now I’m really curious about what you’ll do with the rest of the sewing machine! ?

    1. Thank you so much, Melanie! We donated the machine to someone we know who can refurbish it and use it. Not sure yet about the base! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. It’s beautiful!! The only thing I (meaning my husband) ๐Ÿ™‚ would have done differently is to hide the wheels. Other than that it’s perfect!!

    1. That’s a great idea! If we ever want to pull it out of the craft room, I can put a skirt of crown moulding around bottom! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I love the updated drawers, but is the sewing machine still able to be used? The reason why I’m asking is because I have my Grandma’s sewing machine and it still works.

    1. Hi Lisa, the machine needed a little work to be properly functional again, so we gave it to someone we know who can refurbish it and make better use of it than we could.

  5. I have about 6 or 7 of these drawers and now I know what to do with them! Oh gosh! I’m going to put them on my bathroom counter and put stuff in ’em! Another great idea from the ‘Patch!’

  6. Absolutely great! As far a the rest of the sewing cabinet base. I picked up one at a sale and made a wooden top for it. I faux painted the top wood to look like marble. Made a great table, use it in to my guest bedroom.

  7. I made my own from an old Singer table. I made a little vanity like you did, but also repurposed the treadle.

  8. Greg. I love what you did with the old singer machine. Very impressive. What I would love to know is where did you get the insta glue? I would love to get some. Everything else takes to long to dry. Thanks. Great job

  9. Does your sweet wife realize how blessed she is to have such a handyman as you around? The sewing machine drawer reveal shows your collective creative talents, but also your love for her. Congrats on being such a great team, and thanks for sharing your talents with us! (I am STILL looking for someone to make some of those Valentine candle holders for me!)

  10. Greg has a link to the Amazon listing for the InstaSet glue. It’s under the picture with the glue bottle. I need some of that stuff too, first I’ve learned of it.

  11. Beautiful! I have the exact same sewing machine drawers that I bought at a yard sale. And I’ve been wondering what to do with it.

  12. So in love with this blog and all your projects. Look forward to opening each new email showing your newest project!

  13. Magnificent! You do good work, and are always so patient and explain each step so that a beginner could easily follow along. Can’t wait for the big reveal Many thanks for sharing. ?

    1. Thank you, Naomie! We understand that not everyone is an expert DIYer, so we try to make it accessible for everyone! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I love this , it`s brilliant, just shows what you can do, everybody should recycle and re purpose

  15. Thank you for this very detailed and clear how-to!
    I love repurposing antique pieces.
    I have been planning a bedside table using antique sewing machine drawers just like these for a while. Seeing this has definitely put the fire under me to get it done!
    And what did you do with the base? Another table?

    1. Hi Riley, I’m glad to be an inspiration! We donated the base to a friend before moving, as we didn’t have any immediate plans for it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Love it!! But any suggestions where I could get drawers if I donโ€™t know anyone whoโ€™s getting rid of an antique machine? Thanks, Karen