Create Your Own French Cheese Safe

Capture the charm of French country décor with this refined cheese safe. This cabinet is perfect for showcasing your lovely decorative pieces.

By Jamie Lundstrom
September 2018

French Vintage Decor cover
Cover courtesy Page Street Publishing.

In French Vintage Decor: Easy and Elegant DIY Projects for Any Home, Jamie Lundstrom makes giving your makes bringing the rustic and elegant look of French décor to your home effortless. Add French vintage style to your home with 70 easy projects that span every season and category, from sewing to painting and upholstery. The following excerpt is from Chapter 2, "Parisian-Inspired Home décor."

A French cheese safe (or cabinet) is a place where cheese was stored on the counter in a French country kitchen. The safe or cabinet was covered in a fine screen. I've always loved the look of them and wanted to create my own. I used a thicker wire mesh in this design, and it can be used to store all your pretty decor items.

French cheese safe



Materials:

Cut List:

Back and Front Frames:

  • Top and bottom: 4 (1 x 2 board cut into 1-1/2-inch long) pieces
  • Sides: 4 (1 x 2 board cut into 21-inch long) pieces

Two Side Frames:

  • Top and bottom: 4 (1 x 2 board cut into 9-inch long) pieces
  • Sides: 4 (1 x 2 board cut into 24-inch long) pieces

Door:

  • Top and bottom: 2 (1 x 2 board cut into 10-1/2-inch long) pieces
  • Sides: 2 (1 x 2 board cut into 18-inch long) pieces
  • Brace for Shelves: 2 (1 x 2 board cut into 9 2/3-inch long) pieces
  • Shelf Slats: 3 (1 x 3 board cut into 12-inch long) pieces
  • Bottom Base and Top: 4 (1 x 6 board cut into 12-inch long) pieces
  • Middle Piece: 1 (1 x 2 board cut lengthwise into a 1 inch x 12-inch long) piece
  • Inner Support Posts: 4 (1 x 1 board cut into 22-1/2-inch long) pieces

Cheese Safe:

  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Work gloves
  • Wire mesh
  • Medium duty staple gun
  • 1/4-inch staples
  • Pencil
  • Brad nail gun
  • 1-1/2-inch and 2-inch brad nails
  • 2-inch nails, just for door frame
  • Sander
  • 120-220 grit sandpaper
  • 2 box hinges
  • Latch or knob
  • Tin snips
  • Stain, optional (I used Minwax Espresso)

Instructions:

  1. Glue the 3 pieces together for the bottom base and 3 pieces for the top using the narrow 1 x 12-inch pieces in the middle. Build the back frame and side frames by hot gluing them together.
  2. French cheese safe

    French cheese safe
    Bottom base with support post.

  3. Wearing gloves, cut the mesh or screen with more than needed for the back and side frames, then staple it in place on each frame and pull back the excess mesh to cut off. Glue the support posts into place using the frames and a square as a reference for straightness.
  4. French cheese safe
    Side frames are ready for mesh.

    French cheese safe
    Installed mesh in back and side frames.

  5. Once the support posts are secure, measure halfway up the support posts and using a square, mark a line with a pencil for the shelf. Glue the shelf braces between the left front and back posts and right front and back posts and glue on the shelf slats on top of the braces using the hot glue. Glue the back frame, first making sure it's centered with equal distance on each side, then glue the side frames into place. The frames go in front of the bottom base not secured on top of the base.
  6. French cheese safe
    Bottom base with all four support posts.

    French cheese safe
    The shelf braces installed.

  7. Glue and nail the front frame (the only frame without a screen). Dab glue on top of each post and insert the top. Secure everything with a brad nailer, nailing in approximately every 4 inches (about 3 to 5 nails on every frame board) making sure your nailing into the support posts and frames nailed to each other.
  8. French cheese safe
    Shelf slats and a side frame are installed.

    French cheese safe
    Both side and back frames installed.

  9. Glue and nail the door together switching to 2-inch brad nails and install the screen using the same directions as above.
  10. Sand everything down for a smooth finish. Leave natural or stain. Install hinges spacing out evenly and install the handle or latch.
  11. French cheese safe
    With the top in place we can now install the door.

Notes:

  • Make sure the best side of the wood is facing out. Always choose the straightest pieces of wood. Dry fit everything first. Work on a flat, level surface.
  • Hot glue is the perfect way to "hold" your pieces into place before nailing. It is easy to fix if the wrong pieces are glued together first.
  • When working with a brad nailer, never place your hand or body in the direction the nail is shooting. Also avoid nailing through knots in the wood if possible.

More from French Vintage Décor:

Reprinted with permission from French Vintage Decor by Jamie Lundstrom, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018. Photo credit: Jamie Lundstrom.




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