How to Restore a Hand Crank Sewing Machine

Written by michelle powell-smith
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Many hand crank sewing machines still have reliable mechanics and excellent stitch quality. While most antique sewing machines use a treadle, some operate via a crank on the side of the machine. They also make a beautiful decorative accent for your home. Most hand crank machines, however, will require restoration. Restore an antique sewing machine to its original function and look with an investment of time and hard work.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Kerosene or WD-40
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Rags
  • Small brushes
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Tweezers or forceps
  • Sewing machine oil
  • Mineral oil

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove the machine from the cabinet or case. Wipe the outside of the hand crank sewing machine to remove dust and debris before opening the antique sewing machine.

  2. 2

    Use a flathead screwdriver to dismantle the antique sewing machine wherever you can to access the mechanics of the machine. Look for screws on the base of the machine to clean the bobbin mechanism, on the top to access the gears that propel the needle and along the needle mechanism.

  3. 3

    Soak a rag in kerosene or spray lubricant. Clean the gears inside the sewing machine. Use tweezers or forceps to remove any dried or balled-up old grease from the gearing. Wipe away any residual kerosene using a clean, dry rag.

  4. 4

    Lubricate each gear on your hand crank sewing machine with a drop of sewing machine. Use your sewing machine manual as an oiling guide or look for small, round holes in the machine. Test the antique sewing machine by turning the crank and look for smooth, easy movement.

  5. 5

    Clean the outside of the hand crank sewing machine with an all-purpose cleaner. Exercise care when working around decals. Gently polish the sewing machine with a small amount of mineral oil to restore a hand crank sewing machine to its original beauty.

Tips and warnings

  • While belts and motors are not an issue with a hand crank sewing machine, the crank itself may be damaged. If so, remove and replace with a new crank.
  • Motorised vintage machines may be converted to a hand crank if you prefer to use your machine without electricity.
  • Sewing with a hand crank machine is somewhat challenging because one hand is required to power the sewing machine while the other one guides the fabric.

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