Sunday, June 5, 2016

Paint Along 6: Painters Tape and Toothpicks

Believe it or not, this is the LAST post before we actually paint the machine.

All we have to do at this point is cover everything that should NOT be painted.  This includes any remaining shiny metals bits (we removed everything removable in a previous post).  It also includes all holes, even the extremely teeny ones.

When we get to the painting part I will be using a can of paint and a brush, and you may be using a spray can.  If you have a steady hand with the brush (and some tiny brushes) you can skip plugging all of the holes.  Just don't drip paint into the screw threads of any of those little holes.  Or, better plan, go ahead and plug them all.  You're going to need those plugs at the end anyhow when we spray clear coat over the whole machine.  But that is a story for a future day.


Blue painters tape.
Razor blades or exacto knife (better, if you have one).
Bamboo skewers (like for shish kebab).
You could go all upscale with an assortment of small dowels, but you really don't need them.
A cutting board or scrap piece of wood, not shown in this photo, but visible in later pics.

A few more removals

You have already removed most of the removable shiny bits.  Here are a couple that will sometimes come off easily.  I had mixed results, as you will see.

The first thread guide (at least on my vintage Singers) can sometimes be wiggled back and forth and persuaded to come out.  Be very gentle in your approach to this--the last thing you need is to snap it off.

It worked this time.

The spool pin on these old Singers were just whacked in (not screwed in).  If you have a screw-in spool pin, lucky you, just unscrew it.

Do not do it this way.

If yours was whacked in, you can try to gently persuade it to come out.  Sometimes they are loose anyway.  I do NOT whack it with the big hammer shown.  I tap it gently all around with a little hammer.  Tack hammer for instance.  No luck with this one and I gave up on it quickly.

Tape.  And sticks.  And sticks with tape on them.

You want to use blue painters tape and NOT masking tape or any other kind of tape.  There may be other painters tapes but it has to be painters tape because it does not leave a residue when you pull it off.

Now we start covering up things in no particular order.

Below is a shallow indented hole.  Use your fingernail or the pointy end of the bamboo skewer to press firmly around the rim of the hole.

And then carefully trace around with the razor blade or exacto knife.

I don't use the exacto knife very often and it was only when looking at these photos that I realized that I should have put in a new blade.  Later in the process I used fingernail or skewer to create a crease in the painter's tape around the rim, then peeled the tape off, carefully cut around the crease and then put the painter's tape back on.

But because I have done this before I have a sense of what the quality control parameters should be.  This is good enough, I think.  Find out later for sure....

To protect a hole, you need to fill it up.  Some of the holes were just the right size for the bamboo skewer, and I cut little bits off of the straight end of the skewer.  The right size, by the way, is just a smidge smaller than the diameter of the skewer.  You want to slightly force the skewer into the hole.  If it is loose in there it will fall out, and it won't reliably protect the hole from getting paint inside it.

To create a stick just the right diameter, wind a length of tape around it.  Add more until it is just a bit larger and can be snugged down into the hole.

One width of tape cut in two made the pieces you see below.

There were holes too big for this method and dowels might be useful.  But what I did was wind a tube of tape sticky side out and (again) just the right size to wedge into the hole.  The one below got cut in half also.

Progress so far.

I always plan to photograph EVERYTHING and always manage to forget at some point.

The take up arm is wrapped individually.  then I just started laying pieces of tape into the interior.  I want the paint to wrap around the edge of the opening so I don't just tape straight across.  I just keep stuffing tape pieces in there until all the workings are securely covered.

The opening to the feed dog region was taped, carefully burnished in the groove that the plates slide into, and then trimmed with the exacto knife.  You want the tape to cover the groove that the plate slides into.

I also forgot to photograph the taping of the remaining bits of the tension that I did not remove.  I will tell you that this is the biggest pain in the neck of the whole taping project.  The spring is very fiddly.  It's awkward to wrap tape where it needs to be wrapped.

But you are bigger and stronger than a roll of painters tape, so here's a tip for conquering that tensioner:  just keep pushing more tape at it until it submits.

Same process for covering both the gold Singer logo and the serial number:  tape, burnish, cut.

Ah, that dull blade.  it looks worse in the giant photo than it does in real life, but it looks bad enough in real life.

and to some extent you can clean it up a bit with the skewer.

More wrapping and stuffing of tape.

and here we are.  about two hours later.  ready to paint.

and I was excited.  Until I remembered the bobbin winder, the hand wheel, and the hand crank.  Oh, well.  A week later I got back to it.

The bobbin winder is way too complicated to tape before painting.  I will carefully paint it with a paintbrush.  Then I will use clear fingernail polish as a clear coat.

Another option with the bobbin winder is to strip off all the paint and leave it a silvery metallic color, again clear coated with fingernail polish.  I did this on an earlier machine and it worked well.

The hand crank has lots of fiddly bits to cover, but here is one that comes off easily.

I wrapped the metallic finger and its screw in painters tape so that they would stay together until we are ready for reassembly.

In the gear section of the hand crank, I shoved bits of painters tape down into the space until all seemed secure.

The hand wheel rim is lots of fun to cover.  Think about the sewing technique of clipping curves.  Lets you wrap a straight piece of tape around a curved surface.

That's it, all ready to paint.  I will probably find a few more tiny things to cover when I actually begin painting.

Because Nellie, future owner of this machine and age 6, has requested a pink and/or purple machine, I will be experimenting with mixing some paint colors.  (No pink or purple hammered paint available last time I checked.)

and the next few posts will focus on the upcoming NC TOGA, Treadle On Gathering and Academy.   If you don't know what a TOGA is, the link will explain.

Drop a note in the comments if you have or will attended any of the TOGAs, and especially let me know if you will be at this year's NC TOGA.  See you in Monroe!


  1. Glad to see you are back with such a detailed post! You almost make me want to paint a machine, not quite!

  2. Michigan TOGA is this weekend. Not sure when NC TOGA is, since I'm not part of the Yahoo group. I don't think I've ever been to NC before. I wanted to go to the TN TOGA, but, they moved it to when we will be in Alaska, visiting our son. Maybe next year.

  3. I need to paint my Singer 31. I was cramping my mind thinking how to tape off the wheel so I could paint it. The clipping the tape idea is genius!


    1. I'll be using the hammered paint but I'm wondering the difference between spray and can. Which would be easier? The can has more colors to choose from.



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