An Old-Fashioned Pie Safe

From MOTHER's Woodshop, how to build a pie safe, you too can build a DIY place to keep those home-cooked berry pies.

| October/November 1999

Fresh-baked berry pies were a seasonal rarity on a pioneer homestead, and they needed protection from small children and other varmints. Cook's answer was a pie safe: a cabinet with tight joints and close-fitting doors to exclude pests and retain enough humidity to keep pies moist, but also featuring tiny, ant and gnat excluding perforations in the door so air could circulate to prevent mold.

MOTHERS Pie Safe is 27" high and sized to hold four 9" pies on 22"-square shelves. It is built of tongue-and-groove (T&G) panels that are deck-screwed and epoxy-glued to 1"-square corner posts. Vent screens in the door are made from prick-punched, flattened tin cans.

Building MOTHER's Pie Safe Side Panels (2 Required)

For each, cut four lengths of 1"x 6" T&G pine to 27". Lay out boards, narrow ends up, best side down, aligned so bottoms of boards lie evenly along a horizontal line, square-to sides of panels.

Lay 30-minute epoxy in grooves. Make tongues and grooves. Tap joints to secure. When dry, saw, plane or cut the thin T&G millings from outer edges of outer boards. Trim panels to be even and square.

Corner Posts

Cut two lengths of 1"-square stock to be 1/2" less than height of sides. Screw and glue even with the outboard edges of panel. Bottoms should be even with bottom of sides (leaving X" at top for top-attachment filets). If using 1"-thick boards for the back, inset rear posts on each panel 1" inside of the rear edge. Leave flush for a thin-plywood back.

Shelf Cleats

Lay glued-up side panels side-by-side. Determine number of shelves and their spacing (6" for bread, 4" for pies and muffins) and mark locations on insides of side panels. So top of bottom shelf will be even with lip of door opening, locate upper edge of bottom cleat 5 1/2" from bottom edge of side boards.

Wayne Gilbert
2/22/2012 5:38:28 PM

Great Plans need to put more in like this.Thanks I know what I am going to make this weekend Wayne in VA

9/24/2008 9:37:31 AM

My antique pie safe (rickety, loose, and hard to close) is made of poplar. Even during insect invasions in the rest of my kitchen cabinets, larvae never have shown up in any of the cereals, etc., stored in my old pie safe. None of my favorite woodworking people will believe me when I suggest that poplar repels insects. Maybe someone here can tell me.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard