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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, I'm totally new to woodworking (and not sure how much this qualifies as woodworking), but thought this might be the place to go to ask my questions. If there's a better place please feel free to let me know. I got a pie safe after my grandmother passed a few years ago. From what I can tell it was made by a furniture company in St. Louis sometime in the 1890s. My grandmother had stripped the finish from almost all of it, so there wasn't any way to fix it. I completed the finish removal and wasn't sure where to go from there. I'd like to refinish it and get new tins for the front and use it in the house. It's obviously been used and roughed up in spots, but I'm ok with the look.

I guess my first question would be, what type of wood is it made from? Any advice on what type of product I would finish it with? Would I be advised to disassemble the drawers and re-glue them so they are sturdier? It's got some interesting looking dovetail joints that are nailed and glued, so I'd rather not touch them if I don't have to. Any/all advise is welcome. Thanks for your input!
 

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It's difficult to tell from the pictures what kind of wood it is. My guess is it made from soft maple or poplar. You are correct in that it would be best to un-assemble the drawers to reglue them. Clean as much of the old glue off as possible and use a slow set two part epoxy to put them back together. The dovetail joints were probably not nailed originally. The nails were probably an early repair. How bad is the original tin. From what I can see of it, it would be a shame to put something else in it. If you are going to change it depending on the size you might be able to get some from www.vandykes.com

There are any number of finishes which would work. If you are applying it by hand a wipe on polyurethane might be the best bet. Just keep in mind that three coats of the wipe on poly are equal to one coat of brush on. The finish will need to be sanded between coats with 220 grit paper but I would use three coats of the wipe on before sanding.
 

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My guess for the time period, and usage of what it was intended for, would be that it's made of pine. But like Steve, hard to tell by the pictures.

Would like to see more and how much of the tin is there.
My guess would be the lower 2 doors would have had wood rather than tin.

It's a really nice piece, and the value is certainly there!
I've seen many pie safes, but never one as nice as that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both! I'll look into the rub on poly. My original thought was to put milk paint on it, but after getting the rest of the lacquer don't think I'll go that route. I like to see the wood grain and would rather not cover it up. It looks good in full picture, but there are some problems when you look up close:
- The main shelf just above the drawers is split all the way across, so I'll need to make a new piece and stain it to match.
- My grandma wasn't too gentle when she removed the old finish, so there are some gouges on the detail on the doors. Some material is also missing from the years of use.
- The front part of the frame is bowed away from the sides a bit. I'm honestly not sure how to fix that.
- The side tins are still there and in pretty good condition, but the front tins are long gone so I'll have to get reproductions. Webster, I'm glad you pointed that out about the lower doors having wood. I received it in pieces and there were some extra sheets of wood and now I know what they are for!

I actually never knew what this was until my parents offered it to me. It was always down in a corner of my grandma's basement with shelves on either side so I never saw the tins. The doors were also off of it so I could only see the shelves. She just used it to store canning jars. Had we known what it was we might have persuaded her otherwise when she said she was going to refinish "that old cabinet" in the basement...
 

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A piece of furniture that old is supposed to have dings, chips and cracks. Less is more when it comes to finish in my opinion. Nice looking pie safe.
 

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- The main shelf just above the drawers is split all the way across, so I'll need to make a new piece and stain it to match.
Repair it. Don't replace. If you absolutely must replace it, use old lumber, or old barn wood. A split isn't worth replacing it.

- My grandma wasn't too gentle when she removed the old finish, so there are some gouges on the detail on the doors. Some material is also missing from the years of use.
That adds character. Don't worry about it. If it bothers you that much, they can be touched up after it is finished with some colored wax or lacquer sticks to match the finish.

- The front part of the frame is bowed away from the sides a bit. I'm honestly not sure how to fix that.
Is that pic #1?
Is there any nail holes in the front?
Do you have any clamps to ease it back?
This could be in relation to the split shelf.

When you start securing everything up, make sure the piece is square.
Boiled linseed oil may be another option for finish.
 
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