A Tutorial – Mixing a Custom Color Black Paint for Singer Sewing Machines (and Others!)

In every black Singer sewing machine restoration, I find small paint chips on the edge of the bed, balance wheel, and often on the sewing arm. While usually they are small cosmetic imperfections, in a sewing machine restoration it is important to address them. The problem that I faced was that there is no black paint on the market that matches the deep black color on Singer or other black machines… Wait, let me caveat that by saying GM lamp black paint formulated for Chevrolet S10 trucks is a close match… but it is expensive and hard to find. While it is a close match for color, it is not a lacquer formulation and has a limited shelf life. There is no off the shelf paint I could find with the deep black color I need. After experimenting with different “black” paints, I found that all of them look “gray” or “blue” compared to the original black japanned finish on these machines.

Singer’s original black Japan paint included a mix of carbon black powder and lacquer. The machine was twice dipped in the black Japan paint and oven cured. I found several vintage black Japan recipes online that purported to be the recipe Singer used, but I cannot confirm or reproduce it… I’m sure someone out there can, but it’s beyond my facilities. I finally found a recipe online that is a near perfect color match, compatible to the original finish, and the ingredients are readily available. I did adjust the recipe’s proportions to suit my preference. The paint I use to paint and paint match paint chips on vintage black Singer sewing machines uses this recipe and it is custom mixed to get the deep black color characteristic to these machines.

For those of you that want to repair cosmetic defects on your machine, the recipe is as follows:

  1. Two teaspoons of alcohol soluble ebony black aniline stain.

2. two ounces of 99% alcohol

3. Sixteen ounces of wax free shellac

The stain is dissolved in the alcohol for 24 hours and then mixed into the shellac. It makes a generous quantity for use and kept in an air tight container it will last a long time. It takes about 4 ounces of this paint to completely cover a sewing machine

For small chip repairs use a small artist brush… for spraying, pour it through a fine mesh paint filter.

That’s it!

I hope you found this information useful!

As always, our tutorials are provided as a free resource to help you learn and maintain your vintage sewing machine. As our site has grown, so has the cost to keep and maintain it.  Despite these costs, I will strive to continue posting tutorials and other relevant content for the benefit of the sewing community.  If you found the content of this tutorial useful, please consider making a small donation to help me grow the site and help defray my costs… every little bit helps.

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Please let me know if I can answer any questions or if I can be of any assistance by emailing me at pungoliving@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading!


Published by pungoliving

First and foremost, I decided to share some of my experiences with vintage all metal sewing machines. It is a natural progression of my life experience exercising my hands and my mind. My background is a simple story... graduating High school, I wanted a trade. I landed an apprenticeship at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in welding. 5 years later after earning certification and working in many different environments, I decided to enroll in College and earn an Engineering. At the same time, I married a wonderful girl and started a new life. Graduating College with a degree in Structural Engineering, I began a 35 year career in the Federal Government. Along the way, we were blessed with 3 beautiful children. Earning a Masters degree in Engineering and registration as a Professional Engineer I worked for the benefit of my family and my Country. Over the years, I have pursued many different hobbies... woodworking, car mechanics, astronomy, and taking apart and putting together all sorts of things. Pretty much anything I could put my mind and my hands into. So now, many years later, I am retired and finally able to wile away my days at home with the love of my life. Her interests have always been in sync with mine, but spending so much free time with her, I realized how broad her talents are! One interest she is particularly fond of is sewing. It didn't take me long to put 2+2 together and realize that I could do something with this. So, acquiring, adjusting, servicing, and restoring sewing machines was a win-win. I have a hobby that is detailed, involves tinkering with precision engineered high quality manufactured machines, while she has an opportunity to sew on various different makes and models of sewing machines. While there are many that have information on line, and what I have to say more than likely has already been said, I wanted to contribute to that conversation and learning gleaned from my experience and research.

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