Introduction: Treadle Table

I have always wanted a treadle table for my home. However, the prices
that people are asking for them have been cost prohibitive with prices ranging from $200 to well over $500 depending on what was included and the size. So I decided to build my own and save the extra for more projects.

Step 1: Materials

For this Instructable you will need the following materials:

  • 3'x6' stain grade panel
  • 1"x1"x10' pine board
  • Wood Glue
  • Wood Screws 1" or 1/2" should work depending on how you make the top..
  • Sand Paper / Sanding Sponges / Steel Wool
  • Black Spray Paint (Gloss and Matte)
  • Stain of choice
  • Blue Painters Tape
  • Polyurethane
  • Old Treadle Sewing Machine that can not be restored.

If you want a drawer you will need the following

  • 1"x10"x8' premium pine board
  • 1x12"x6" premium pine board
  • Small Strip of 3"x24" Luann plywood
  • 18"x18" Luann plywood
  • Set of Drawer Slides
  • Nails (Finishing Nails should be fine)
  • 1 Drawer Pull

Tools you will need:

  • Drill
  • Drill Bits of Various Sizes
  • Wire Wheel (to clean the treadle)
  • Wire Brush (to clean the treadle)
  • Router
  • Ogee Bit or Round Over bit depending on table profile you want.
  • Table Saw or Circular Saw to cut the lumber to size. You can use a hand saw as well.
  • Screw Drivers (Phillips and Standard)
  • Hammer
  • Rags
  • Pencil
  • Clamps
  • Straight Edge
  • Ruler
  • Paper Towels

Safety Gear:

  • Safety Glasses
  • Dust Mask
  • Gloves (rubber and work gloves)

Things you may need:

  • Blow Torch
  • PB Blaster
  • WD-40
  • Palm Sander
  • Orbital Sander
  • Cutting Wheel
  • Dremel
  • Hack Saw
  • Wrench / Channel Locks

Step 2: Demolition

Your first Challenge is to find a treadle machine which can not be restored.

Places you can find old treadle machines to use:

  • Scrap Yards
  • Flea Markets (Boot Sales)
  • Yard Sales
  • Auctions
  • Relatives
  • Friends
  • Online Auctions
  • Thrift Stores
  • Craig's List

Once you find one bring it home and take a look at what can be salvaged.

Typical things that are salvageable :

  • Side drawers
  • Sewing Machine - good source for gears and other things.
  • Any Salvageable wood with accents
  • Hinges
  • Drawer Pulls
  • Screws / Nuts / Bolts
  • Various Metal Bits

Remove Those things that are salvageable and put them away in your spare parts storage area.

Remove and dispose of everything else except for the metal base.

If Anything is stuck try one of the following:

  • Soak The Bolt with PB-Blaster / WD-40 and let it soak in.. then try to remove it with a wrench
  • Take a hammer to any wooden parts that you don't wish to salvage and break it off
  • If you do not want to salvage the piece of hardware you can dremel it off to remove it.
  • Take a blow torch and heat the nut up and then remove it with a wrench
  • Cut around any salvage and then break the rest off

You basically want to get everything off except the metal base.

Step 3: Cleanup

Once you have the metal base free of all the broken as well as the salvageable items take a hose and clean everything off as best you can. I used a power washer to do my initial cleaning but a regular hose and soap with a stiff brush will do just fine. You are getting rid of all the dirt and grime that has accumulated over the years. Don't worry about the rust or flakes right now. .Now let the base dry completely.

Once dry put on your safety gear and get your drill , wire brush and wire wheel. Now anywhere you see rust or flakes or old paint take the wire wheel / brush and remove it. Be thorough at this point the cleaner you get the base the better it will look when you paint it.

Once Cleaned you can decide if you want to make sure the treadle still moves. There is something hypnotic just sitting there moving the treadle and fly wheel. So I made sure it was still able to move. Oil everything that moves..

Step 4: Painting

Now that everything is clean you need to prep the base for paint..

Take some hot water and place your spray paint into the hot water.

Take your blue painters tape and cover any bearings that are exposed (See the picture) Take your Satin Spray Paint and paint the metal base making sure to cover the whole thing. This should take some time to prevent the paint running. Hold the can approximately 6" away and start spraying before the part you are painting and ending after the part. Doing this will give you a nice even coat with no runs. You may need to spray a few coats so take your time.

Step 5: Building the Top

Take your base and measure from side to side and front to back of each side and note the measurements. Take the length (from side to side) and add 4" to this value. Take the width (front to back) and add 4" to this value. By doing this you will have a 2" lip around the table top.

Now you can take the router and route a ogee or round over on the top edge of the table. I chose to route a ogee profile around the top of my table.

The next Step may or may not be needed depending upon the type of base you are able to find.

I ended up with a White base instead of the typical singer. The white has the fly wheel and back support that is above the side rails (see the above picture of the frame) . So you will need to add risers to each side to clear the flywheel and have the back support hitting the right place. You can still add risers for a decorative touch even if they are not needed.

Take the 1"x1"x10' pine board and cut to the width of the treadle side plus two inches. This will give you a 1" overhang on the front and back of the riser. At this point you can cut the risers at a 45' angle on the front and back or run them through the router to give a round over / ogee profile. Then take the risers and place each on its respective side and using the pencil mark where the mounting holes will go. Take your drill and drill small diameter holes where you marked the mounting holes. The reason this needs to be done is to prevent the wood from splitting when you put the screws in. Now take a drill bit that is bigger in diameter than the screw you will be using to attach the riser to the table top and drill two holes offset from the first set of holes you drilled by an inch.

Take your pencil and straight edge and draw a box 2" in from the edge of the top on the left and right sides and then 1" in from the front. This will be your outside edge of where the riser will be placed. Take 4 screws that are no longer than 1" long (just enough to be flush with the riser and only go half way, at most, into the top. Take your wood glue and spread a thin layer on the riser side which will be flush with the table top. Do not just glop it on take your time... put the riser onto the top where you drew the line. Just inside the line so on the sides the distance should be 2" from the side and 1" from the front and back of the table top. Clamp the risers into place to prevent them from moving when you screw them into the top. Let the glue dry and then clean up any squeeze out by scraping it off. Do not use a wet cloth when the glue is wet as all it will do is smear into the wood and give you a blotchy look when you stain it.

Take the 1"x10" and Cut 4x18" boards this is the base of the drawer

Take the 1"x12" and Cut 2x24" This will be your slide sides

Take the 1"x12" and Cut 1x26" This will be your front.

Take the 1"x1" and cut 2x24" lengths these will hold the drawer slide sides onto the top.

Take the 1"x1" that you just cut and drill a set of holes all the way through which are bigger than the screws you will be using. Turn the lumber to the next side that has not been drilled and offset like you did the riser and drill another set of holes. Take the sides and the 1"x1" and glue and attach to the sides. Let them dry like the risers.

While the glue dries you can start on the drawer itself.

Take one of the four 10"x18" boards and measure in 9" and mark with your pencil and then measure in 5" and drill a hole for the drawer pull.

Take the 12"x26" and measure in 13" from the side and 5 1/16" up from the bottom. This will be your front of the drawer. You can run the router over the bottom three sides of the drawer to dress it up if you like. If you do this however leave the top edge alone.

Take the 4x10"x18" boards and make a simple square with them by gluing the ends and nailing them into a 18" square. Now take the 18"x18" Luann square and nail to the bottom of the box.

Take the box and cover the front in glue spreading it out so there is an even coat. Take the drawer pull's screw and place it through the hole in the drawer then through the 12" board front. Clamp the drawer into place so that it is level.

Now place a few nails into the drawer to hold the front on. let everything dry out.

Once everything is dry take your sandpaper and sand everything smoothing out any rough spots.

Take the drawer sliders and follow the directions on the package. Once on the side of the drawer and on the side of the drawer holder put them together to get a measurement of how wide the drawer with the slides are and the 2x1"x24" supports are.

Take this measurement and subtract measurement of the length of the table top and divide by two. This will give you the measurement of how to center the drawer on the table. Measure in from each side and take your pencil and straight edge and mark on the underside of the table. Glue the drawer slide sides and place them where they are inside the pencil marks and just back enough that the front of the drawer is even with the front of the table. Take your screws and secure the drawer to the top.

For additional strength you can take the strip of luann and attach it to the back of the drawer side slides.

Do this step only if you have a central support like the White model.

Once everything is dry take the top and temporarily mount it to the base.

Take the central support and rotate it up until it touches the table top.. Mark this position. Make sure the support is where you want it to be. Cut a piece of the scrap 1"x1" and attach it to the mark on the table top. Let everything dry.

Once Dry rotate the support up and mark where the screw hole is on the piece of wood. Drill a small hole in the piece of wood to prevent it from splitting when you screw the support to the wood.

Take everything off the base. You are now ready for Finishing.

Step 6: Finishing

Take the top and sand everything down until it is nice and smooth.This will take a bit either by hand or by palm/orbital sander. Once smooth take your rag and your stain you will be using and apply the stain onto the top. Wipe off the excess and repeat until the wood is the shade you want it to be. Once dry take the steel wool and rub the top down to remove the raised grain.

Take the blue painters tape and go around the top edge of the ogee on the table top, making sure that the tape is secure and can prevent overspray.

Take some hot water and place your spray paint into the hot water along with the spray poly.
Paint the top with the gloss black, this should take some time to prevent the paint running. Hold the can approximately 6" away and start spraying before the part you are painting and ending after the part. Doing this will give you a nice even coat with no runs. You may need to spray a few coats so take your time.

Let everything dry and then spray on the polyurethane to seal everything.

Take the tabletop and reattach it to the base and then attach the drawer pull and you are finished.

Congratulations You now have a custom treadle table to add to your home.

I hope you enjoy my first instructable and please vote for me in the before and after contest.


Before and After Contest 2017

Participated in the
Before and After Contest 2017