Build a Replica Antique Pie Safe

Follow this old-fashioned cabinet design to handcraft a modern replica of an antique pie safe.

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    Building a replica antique pie safe can bring as much satisfaction as the real thing.
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    Old-fashioned pie safe design.

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In response to the many people who've suggested that we feature more woodworking projects, here's a handsome and functional piece of furniture from America's past. This replica antique pie safe is offered to MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers by Ed and Stevie Baldwin, authors of various books and a series of syndicated newspaper columns on the subjects of woodworking and crafts. 

The purchase of expensive antique furniture is sometimes difficult to justify, especially considering that many pieces were built to serve a now-defunct purpose. Yet as people continue to find new uses for old designs, their concern over cost is often diminished by their admiration for the quality of traditional woodworking.

Unfortunately, mere appreciation for things handcrafted isn't enough to assure them a place in the home . . . but if you're willing to part with a few dollars for materials and some evening or weekend time, you can fashion your own modern-day replicas that can be just as attractive as—and a whole lot less expensive than—the treasures beckoning at you from the antique-shop windows.

The old-timey pie safe I've chosen to describe here was originally used to keep freshly baked pastries and desserts out of harm's way while cooling . . . and I'm sure you can find a variety of unconventional uses to put it to besides. At 14" deep, 3' wide, and 52" high, the cabinet (with its two drawers and three shelves) can easily hold a passel of items. Its 3/4" pine framing and 1/4" plywood panels are standard lumberyard fare, and they serve to accent the punched copper face panels and porcelain knobs perfectly without the expense of hardwood.

To build yourself a pie safe as nice as any antique shop's, you'll need about 38 square feet of 3/4" white pine, 18 square feet of 1/4" plywood (I used a high-grade baltic birch), and 6 square feet of 1/32" (or 20-gauge) sheet copper, along with some hardware I'll describe later on.

Start making the side frames by cutting the four 3/4" X 2-1/2" X 51-1/4" stiles and four 3/4" X 2-1/2" X 7-1/2" rails. Then make 1/4" X 3/8" dadoes at the inner edge of each part to accept the joint splines. (The lower rails rest 5 inches above floor level.) Once that's done, cut the two 1/4" X 8" X 41-3/4" plywood side panels and assemble the structures as two complete units by gluing the frame joints while allowing the panels to float in their dado channels.

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