Restored Antique Pie Safe

My brother-in-law Steve recently attended a farm auction and spotted three very old and in need of refinishing pie safes that had been stored in a barn for many years.  Several people were interested in the cabinets and the first two sold for about $200 each.  About the time the third was coming up for auction a large wind whipped through the area and sent the already fragile cabinet over on its side.  What was left of the cabinet was not very pretty and most of the other potential buyers felt the cabinet was beyond repair.  Not Steve, he was silently cheering inside and was able to purchase the cabinet remains for about $60.  This is what he brought home…..

The first thing he did was to power wash the cabinet to take the years of grime, cobwebs, spiders and paint chips off of it.

Next he started gluing, clamping, repairing with wood filler and sanding.

He also sandblasted the tin panels in the door with crushed walnuts to remove the paint that was once applied.

In removing at least four layers of paint that existed on the cabinet, he was able to see that the original color was a pale, chalky green.  In order to restore the pie safe to as an original condition as possible, Steve decided to try and match the original paint, even to the point of making the milk paint by himself.  You can purchase milk paint in powder form and mix it with distilled water but from Steve’s viewpoint, it is not nearly as fun.  He is kinda crazy like that!

First he primed the cabinet.

Then he made the milk paint by mixing a gallon of fat-free skim milk with a fourth of a cup of vinegar and letting it sit on the counter over night.  This process separated the curd and whey in the milk.  He drained the whey and mixed the curd with about a cup of lime powder.  Next he added about 220 grams of powdered color pigment until he achieved the same color as the original paint.

After the paint was applied, Steve distressed it a little with a fine grit sandpaper to tone down the paint and give it an aged appearance  Here is the finished product, isn’t she a  beauty?


  1. Wow! What a project. Love it!

  2. Love what Steve can do with wood! He’
    s amazing! That turned out great!

  3. This is great. I wish I had a Steve in my family.

  4. I need one of those Steves around my house too!!! Can he be borrowed? (beautiful restoration!)


  1. […] brother-in-law Steve.  I have talked about his craftsmanship several times on the blog including here, here and here.  I should just start a page about all the items he makes, better yet, I should […]

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