rebuilding a pie safe

Marian ParsonsBefore and Afters, Furniture Makeovers, Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint54 Comments

A few weeks ago, I took a trip out to one of my favorite antique stores (Beaver Creek Antiques in Hagerstown, MD) to pick up a pie safe I had been mulling over for a while.  It was perfect.  Chipping, creamy-white old paint, still wearing all of the original tins and she is an old girl who has lived a good life and has gotten even better with age.

This post is not about that pie safe, though.  This post is about the one that had, shall we say, issues.

But, it also had potential.

And things with potential are my favorite.

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So, some obvious issues…the neon green curtains.

Well, as Kriste put it, “Someone tried.”

The other issue was that this poor pie safe was basically in pieces.

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The bottom was missing and one side had come apart.  Fortunately, the missing tins from that side were in one of the drawers.

I would write a tutorial on how I fixed this, but I basically figured it out as I went along!

I started out by glueing the wood rails, the cross pieces, back in place.  They had tongues on each end that fit into a groove.  I clamped them, so the glue had a chance to dry overnight.

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I took some measurements for the bottom shelf and to cut a piece of wood for the missing rail along the bottom of the side.

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I found a scrap piece of wood in our workshop and asked Jeff to cut it to size for me (I don’t do table saws) and cut a groove in the top of it, so the tin has a place to rest.

Since this piece doesn’t have tongues, on the inside of the board, I drilled two Kreg pocket holes on each side, so I could screw it in place.

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I had an old piece of wood on hand that was almost exactly the right size to make a new cupboard bottom.  Jeff cut that piece down for me, too, so it fit perfectly.

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I like that it’s an old piece that looks like it has always been there.  I tacked all of the shelves and the new/old bottom in place with finishing nails.

And now it’s ready to paint…

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Now, I know some people aren’t going to like this piece painted.  That’s okay.  I wanted to paint it to camouflage the repair on the side and because this wood didn’t particularly speak to me.  I can’t explain it, but this wood didn’t look as old as it actually was and that bugged me.  I could tell from the interior wood, hardware, tins, construction, etc. that it’s an old piece, but the wood on the outside read too “1980’s country reproduction” to me, even though it wasn’t.

All of that to say, it’s getting painted.  If you like it wood, take one last look at it…

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I applied a couple of coats of a custom-mixed MMSMP white.  It was a little bit of Mora and Grain Sack mixed with Farmhouse White.

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The wood on the interior of the cabinet was very dry, so I applied a generous coat of Hemp Oil to hydrate it and bring out that pretty patina.  I lightly distressed the edges and areas where the paint chipped a bit and sealed the paint with the new matte Tough Coat.

Lastly, I needed to deal with the big, gaping holes in the doors.  The best option I could think of was screen.  The gray color would match the tins and is fitting for a pie safe.  More than glass would be.

I cut it with a utility knife and tacked it into place with wood strips that were used to hold the fabric in place.   I used some fiberglass screening out of an old window screen, so it was lightweight and easy to work with.

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Given the shape it was in when I bough it, I am so pleased with how it turned out.

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And it really is a perfect piece for my “Farmhouse White” themed booth.

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Did you happen to notice the pretty ironstone compote in the pie safe?

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I spotted it and practically leapt towards it.  There was absolutely no doubt, unless the price was obscene, that this piece would be coming home with me.  It has a flat bottom, so it’s more like a mini cake pedestal with decorative edge.  I’ve never seen one like it.

The price wasn’t obscene and it, of course,  came home with me…

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rebuilding a pie safe

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54 Comments on “rebuilding a pie safe”

  1. So much better painted, and you really had to due to the addition of new wood. Gotta feel good saving a piece that would probably never sell. Nice job!

  2. I am not one that has a lot of painted furniture in my house, but I agree, the pie safe needed to be painted, great job!!! Through these posts, I see so many things I want to buy at Lucketts…can’t wait!

  3. It is gorgeous. I used to have a cabinet that had these same exact doors but it was much taller. I loved that cabinet. My husband saved it and put it back together and that made it more special. I love the screen on the doors letting the beauty from inside show thru to the outside. I am sure this sweet little cabinet will find a new home and make someone very happy! I love this blog!

  4. I have been so excited for you to do the pie safe reveal. I have a pie safe my grandpa gave to me. He took it apart to strip it, and now I have to figure out how to put it back together! I think it might be your pie safe’s twin… Unfortunately, I don’t have the original tin – I’ve thought about having some made. Any other ideas?

    1. If they are the standard 10 x 14″, you can order replacements that are reasonable and look nice. I looked into that for the doors on mine, but those were 12 x 15, so I couldn’t find ones that worked.

  5. So cute! You did a wonderful job!
    What’s the green plant you have inside the pie safe? One looks like rosemary but what’s the other one?
    I’m very new to gardening so I enjoyed it when you shared your experiences with plants. Well…I love everything that you share Thanks!

  6. Hey, just a suggestion here, but wouldn’t some nice old metal screening be better than fiberglass? Like the stuff on older window screens.

    Also, it isn’t ultra difficult to make new tin inserts, other than the patina matching. Some more ideas for this piece!

  7. This looks as if it has always been that way. It looks like it was just plucked out of a sweet grandma’s kitchen. I love it!

  8. I’m a new subscriber…what took me so long!
    How nice…love it! Beautiful job. Was the piece walnut!?!
    What is your favorite wood glue and filler?
    Would a chicken wire screen look as good if one likes a country French appeal?

    Appreciate your sharing and expertise.

  9. Painted is good- I like the screen. I have one problem with the piece though- the holes in the doors are not as primitive looking as the rest of the piece- they jar me somehow. Could they have come from another piece of furniture do you think? Regardless, the piece looks great.

    1. I totally agree with you and have even considered removing the doors! The design seems a little off to me, too, but based on the patina of the wood, hardware, etc. I can tell that they are the original doors.

  10. Nice! I agree it did have that 80’s repro look, but not anymore! The compote is awesome, looks great with the limes/apples. You rock, girl!

  11. I would’ve tinted the side piece to match the rest of the wood and kept the patina as-is…just my vote…

  12. I have a pie safe I purchased from Ethan Allen about 12 years ago that’s similar in style to this one. My cabinet also has tin but in the front doors instead of the sides. I’ve been thinking about using your milk paint to change over it’s current red. Been debating whether to remove the tin and replace with chicken wire, but the tin provides privacy and is country. After seeing yours painted out, I’m sold on changing the color. Looks great Marian!

  13. Love this , I have a taller version of this . I have had it for about 17 years. The design of the tins on the side of yours are very similar to mine. I struggle with wanting to paint mine but have only painted the drawers. Always love your creative vision.

  14. Marian, I love how you see the potential in pieces that most would give up on. In addition to creating beautiful things, you demonstrate a reuse and recycle mentality that is inspirational!

  15. You did an awesome job! As I was reading this post I thought for sure you were going to say that you had found some old doors for replacements, or got Jeff to route/cut out the design in the doors. The color looks very nice! I have seen old pie safes that had layers of old white paint and had even painted over the punched tin sides. The tins look great painted as well. Love the ironstone compote, it’s wonderful!!

  16. Yep. I would have painted it too. The original wood stain did have that funny , hint of orange in it that I associate with the 80s. Didn’t like it then, don’t like it now. White is fantastic on that piece.

  17. I do like wood but not that wood. It is much better painted. I love seeing you transform these pieces, I learn something every time.

  18. I have the matching step back cupboard in the original finish. Mine has glass but the same turn of wood. Pine gets redder as it ages and mine is a very rich color. I love the paint as well. I have been thinking of painting a pie safe as well. Nicely done!

  19. I wonder if the doors are not original and that’s why it looked a bit ’80s? Given the rest of the piece, I would have expected the doors to be plainer and less chunky.

    1. That was my initial thought, but the wood is identical and the hardware is all in keeping with the age of the piece. Plus, the patina is the same, so they are the original doors as best as I can tell.

  20. Oh, that compote! I have a punch bowl that I love but it is quite stained. Any suggestions on cleaning iron stone? Although, I am quite happy to leave as is!

  21. I am so jealous of all the ironstone you find! My neck of the woods doesn’t seem to have any!

  22. I don’t care about the issues it is a lovely piece. I love your ironstone piece it is a great find.

  23. Marian, I am always impressed with what you do, but I have to say, this takes the cake! I’m so impressed by how you saved this pie safe!! If I lived out east, I would snatch it up from you. Fantastic job!!

  24. I love the way the pie safe looks now…gosh, I think removing the green ‘curtains” was even a great improvement!
    I have the same cow head and am wondering what size that boxwood wreath is around Lula’s head? I ordered one but it wasn’t quite big enough. Thanks for the inspiration!

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