Adding to the Collection

Well…you all know I just told you how I love cabinets in a post I did last week…See it HERE if you missed it.  When reading the comments you had me laughing saying maybe we needed to form a support group.

Well…

I bought another.  YES, another cabinet.

In my defense, I’ve wanted one for years and years and years.  What kind of cabinet?  A spool cabinet.

When my husband was living, we went to a lot of auctions and antique places.  LOTS.  I can’t tell you how many auctions we were at and a spool cabinet was there and he’d bid it up over $300 and I would tell him, “QUIT BIDDING!!  It’s too much money.”

Bids would continue where he left off and they often went for $500 or more.  It was crazy.

When we’d go to antique shops, he’d find spool cabinets and show them to me.  Again and again, I’d say no.  They were just too expensive.

Sometimes it got to the point that he seemed to what me to have one more than I wanted one.  Yes.  I wanted one but he HUNTED for them.  He always held out hope that he would find one in some obscure place for some crazy cheap price like the Featherweight he bought me for $5.

He ended up passing away and we never did find one…well we found them…just not in my price range.

Fast-forward to the last weekend in January.  I saw there was an online auction from one of the auction houses we previously frequented.  I don’t look at auctions nearly as much as I did when he was alive.  I still love them but there’s something a little bittersweet about them because auctions and antiques were something Kramer and I always did together.

I happened to see a spool cabinet on the auction.  It was not a pristine cabinet.  I could see a mouse had nibbled on one of the drawers.  Not all of the knobs were on it.  It was early in the auction but it was only going for $50.  I knew the price would go up and likely skyrocket.  I didn’t think I wanted to bother with getting a bidding number or even bidding for that matter.  I noted that the auction ended on Monday evening and went on with life.

Sunday came around and I remembered that spool cabinet.  What was the chance that the price was still low?  I decided to look it up on the online auction again…

Hmm.  It was only $90.  Well, that’s definitely in my price range and far from the $500 I had seen them go for.  This one wasn’t pristine.  Was I okay with that??  Ya.  I was.  I have other pieces of furniture in my house that have mice chewings on them.  Yep.  I was okay with that.  Was I okay that all the knobs weren’t there?  Yep.  I was.

I went through the work of registering for a bidding number.  I had never done an online auction before…Hmm.

I ended up bidding $100.  Ugh.  The person before me had put in a higher bid so their bid was $110.  Do I bid again?  Yes.  I bid $120.  Darn.  The bid went to $130.  Darn.

I looked at the pictures again.  Do you want this??  YES.

I decided to put in a bid for $170.  The way the system works is that I can put a higher bid in…but then I will only pay one increment higher than the previous person’s bid.

So…with that, I had the winning bid at $160.  I had the high bid.  I was tickled.

If someone bids higher than me, I’d get an email notification…so I went about my life feeling pretty happy.  I had the high bid.  But…in the back of my mind I was sure…very sure that as the auction started closing, someone would run in wildly bidding and I’d lose the bid.

So Monday came.  I had decided that I was just going to not watch the closing of the bids on the computer.  If I got it for $170, I’d have it and if I didn’t I wouldn’t.  Ah…

Then 6 o’clock rolled around and I happen to notice the time.  Hmm.  I wondered what that auction was doing.  I decided to break what I said I was going to do and actually watch the auction.

It does what they call a “soft close”.  That means they go through the items and allow 2 minutes to count down.  If no bids come in during those two minutes, the highest bid gets the item.  If someone bids, the item goes back to a 2 minutes count down.

It was getting closer to the spool cabinet’s turn.  Ugh.  I don’t know if I want to watch this.  I was so sure I wouldn’t get it…but I was currently the high bidder at $160.

Ahh.  Here it is.  Can you see?  19 bids had been placed.  I was the winning bid with $160 and there were 48 seconds left.


….and then Messenger went off on my phone.  It was Kayla’s birthday.  We were all getting together on Messenger to sing her happy birthday.  Oh my.  There were only 48 seconds left in the auction.  I wanted to see if I was going to win the spool cabinet for an unheard of $160.

But…my mom’s instinct won out.  I answered the Messenger call.  As much as I wanted to see if I won, I was the mom and Kayla was more important.

I answered the call and watched the computer at the same time.  By now it was only 30 seconds left.

Thankfully everyone was half waiting for Karl to answer and he didn’t…25 seconds.  20 seconds.  Everyone was talking to everyone.  I waved into my phone but didn’t talk.  I was watching the computer screen.  10 seconds.  Oh my word, was I going to win this?  Was no going to quickly bid?  5 seconds.

AHHH!!  I won the spool cabinet.  Really loud into the phone, I whooped.  The kids all wondered what was up with me.  Then I had to explain that I had just won a spool cabinet on an online auction.

I was so happy.

Then I started fretting as I was sure the spool cabinet was a piece of junk.  That’s why it was so cheap.  Remember I never saw this in person.  I only saw pictures.  AHH!!  I was sure everyone else saw it in person and knew it was bad.  Why does my brain do this?

But how was it so cheap????

Yes, I knew it wasn’t in mint condition…but it was still a spool cabinet.  Kramer and I had looked for one for years and never saw anything under $400.

So Tuesday I went and picked it up.

Here it is.


It was in much better shape than I anticipated.  Yes, there is the mice damage on the right on one of the drawers.  I already knew that.  Yes the knobs aren’t all there.  I knew that.  Everything else was in good shape.  Used? Yes, but in good shape.

This was stuck on one of the drawers.

It needed a good cleaning and sprucing up.


…but just look.  See the bottom drawer??  I put some Re-Store-a-Finish on it.  Doesn’t it look so much better??  You can find the product HERE.

It’s super easy to use.  Just put some on a cloth and wipe on the wood.

I have to admit, as happy as I was about getting it, part of me was super sad.  I so wish Kramer could have been here with me.  He would have been so happy we finally found a spool cabinet for me.

I cleaned it up and then found a place for it.


I’m so happy with it.  Now that it’s cleaned up, the mouse issue isn’t nearly as noticeable.


I really don’t care about some knobs that are missing.


It has some great storage.


I ended up reorganizing a lot of what was on my cabinet.


In the prime of its life, my spool cabinet would have looked like a cross between this one…

…and this one.  Mine has three large drawers like the one below but the knobs are more like the one above.  Mine is much darker though.  I’m sure sometime in its life it was in a shed or garage probably serving as a toolbox.  I’m sure the dirt and wear ground their way into it.


I know very little about spool cabinets.  I did look up to see what it would cost to replace the hardware.  I decided not to.  From what I see it all would be shiny and new while the rest of the cabinet is old and worn.  I’d prefer it all to look old and worn so no shiny new knobs for me.

I’m so happy to add this to my collection of cabinets.  It’s not what I typically think of when I say cabinet.  I think of doors more than drawers.  All I know is:   I’m a happy girl…and I know Kramer would be really happy for me too!

41 thoughts on “Adding to the Collection

  1. Samantha M

    What a brilliant find, Jo! It looks really good. (If you ever did want to replace the knobs, somewhere like ebay might have something secondhand (and not shiny)).

    Reply
  2. Deb Wessels

    I absolutely love it, and all of your cabinets. I have a spool cabinet, but it had been totally restored, I like yours better. But, like you, I always wanted one. Mine was found in an antique shop, and we used Christmas money that my father in law gave us. I’ve had it several years, and my FIL has since passed, so it means a lot to me. Enjoy it!

    Reply
  3. Carmen Montmarquet

    Yeah for Jo! I also have always wanted one too, so glad you saw the opportunity and went for it! Can’t wait to see it in your sewing room or anywhere in your home, it will fit right in! Just love it and so happy for you!!!

    Reply
  4. Stearns Carol

    Great job Jo! ANd speaking of spools, you’ve not talked much about what type of thread you use. Enquiring minds want to know. I mostly use aurifil for piecing and sewing. But also use Isacord as it comes in such lovely colors. And Superior for quilting on my Platinum 16 that I call Platypus. Had to oil her yesterday as she was getting noisy. Maybe you can find a knob somewhere in an antique shop.

    Reply
  5. Kim from TN

    What a wonderful find and the cabinet looks great all cleaned up. It has wonderful character, mice bites and all. Lucky you!

    Reply
  6. Margie

    Happy for you! As I was reading your story, I couldn’t help but think Kramer may have had something to do with you getting your cabinet. I have never heard of a spool cabinet, but it is a great find!

    Reply
  7. Jill Klop

    I’m so glad that is yours now! I was so surprised the difference it made after you cleaned it up! I love all of your cabinets too!

    Reply
  8. Gayla Livengood

    I love it. What a great story. I love antiques too. I enjoy your posts and look forward to seeing them every day. Praying for the twins and their mom.

    Reply
  9. Meredith

    Wonderful! I’ve always, always wanted one of these (and a library card catalog, too) How lovely that you can look at this every day and have another memory of your dear husband.

    Reply
  10. Margaret in North Texas

    Oh my, looks so good the way you have displayed it on the large cabinet below your fabulous wall of cross stitch. Kramer would be proud!

    Reply
  11. The Joyful Quilter

    Happy Birthday, Kayla, and congratulations on winning the spool cabinet bid!!

    QUESTION for you?? Did you change settings on your blog? Every line is smooshed to the left. It makes me feel like I can’t see the beginning of each line. I don’t recall it being that way until just recently. Thought I’d ask in case the change was unintentional.

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      I’ve not heard or seen from anyone else that it’s smooshed. I am wondering if that’s something in your settings???

      Reply
  12. Norma

    Great find! I’ve always wanted one too.
    I love cabinets, there have been many I admired over the years but we live in a small house on my home farm. On a farm you get the house that’s there (you and Kelli know!).
    Prayers for Kelli and crew. Our son was a preemie and had ear infection, pneumonia, and bronchitis often his first few years. Hard for mama when she needs sleep and still needs to function for others.

    Reply
  13. Judith Fairchild

    What a great find!!!!!!. It looked good before you cleaned up. Now it looks great especially sitting on the larger cabinet. Happy Blessed Birthday to Kayla.. and many more

    Reply
  14. Judy Prescott

    That spool cabinet is fabulous! You did great on that auction!!! Congratulations!! I LOVE local online auctions.

    Reply
  15. Patty Brenner

    What a wonderful find! A spool cabinet is on my bucket list too :-) I’ve seen some cabinets with old wooden thread spools used as replacement pulls, I thought they looked cute and whimsical, and in keeping with the cabinet’s original purpose. The restor-a-finish is amazing stuff, I’m glad no one used it on your cabinet before you bought it, the price would have been higher :-) Thanks for sharing it with us!

    Reply
  16. Julie

    Great find! I love spool cabinets, too. Once upon a time years ago I was at a friend’s cabin up at Spider Lake in Wisconsin and she had a different kind of spool cabinet being used as an end table. She recounted how one summer she and her mother wound thread on many many spools and carefully arranged them in rows so they were visible from the side. It was a wonderful memory for her…

    Reply
  17. Sheila in WI

    Congratulations on your new cabinet. I’d like to think that Kramer is smiling down on you for finding this cabinet and would want you to enjoy it. Not the same as him finding it for you, but still a pleasant thought.

    Reply
  18. Adele

    I love your spool chest. I have one that has passed down to me through my family, it was in my great grandparents house. I just love it. Enjoy yours. I love all of your posts.

    Reply
  19. MaureenHP

    If you haven’t been there, there is a wonderful collection of spool cabinets at he quilt museum in Kalona, IA. Yours is lovely and cleaned up very nicely.

    Reply
  20. Deb

    I think that Kramer was looking over your shoulder during those last few minutes of the auction, cheering you on! Congratulations!

    Reply
  21. Phyllis

    What are the tall wooden things with metal end that are on top or your cabinet?
    We found some of them at my Mom5 and I had never seen them before. If they are spools, what would have been on them?

    Reply
  22. shirley

    Love it. Just saw one smaller for JP Coats on Garnavillo auction on HiBid. Already at $110. Maybe shouldn’t tempt you. LOL.

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      Shirley. You are a terrible enabler. (I actually love that you told me about the auction) I’m off to check it out!!

      Reply
  23. NJ

    I’ve seen new spool cabinets but yours is definitely authentic. Great find !
    Can you post a larger picture of the knobs then your readers can be looking for you. I know I have a container of old hardware from refinishing days.

    Reply
  24. Sherry Bobak

    Beautiful! You’re a lucky girl! I would like one but they are well out of my price range. I finally got the
    Featherweight that I’ve wanted. It cost me $300 but it is in mint condition. It was sitting in the corner of a junk shop just gleaming at me. I love all your other cabinets, too!

    Reply
  25. Anne Fisher

    I had no idea what a spool cabinet was!!! So learned something new. So glad for you and your winning bid. I too, think Kramer was helping!! Looks great, all nice and clean and already in use!
    Phyllis asked about the “tall wooden thing” –I have a small collection of those—- Bobbins!!! Believe I have 10–all different sizes–and found all of them in Maine except for tallest one–and son and daughter-in-law got that one for me –fall craft sales in the Boonies around Riceville. Congratulations on 1 more cabinet!!!

    Reply
  26. Dianne R

    I love your spool cabinet. I love all your cabinets! I too have wanted a spool cabinet and a card catalog cabinet. I do have a collection of cedar chests. I have 5 and stopped buying them because I ran out of space to put them. Four of the chests are well over 100 years old. Praying for Kelli and the twins.

    Reply
  27. Jackie in NY

    Congrats on getting your spool cabinet Jo! I understand it being a bittersweet victory. But seeing it will remind you if the thrill of the hunt you shared together. Enjoy!

    Reply

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