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AW Extra 11/14/13 - Portable Food Safe


Portable Food Safe

This safe features two sliding doors and two removable trays.

By Randy Johnson

No more smashed frosting, cracked crusts or capsized casseroles.You can take your culinary creations anywhere with this portable food safe.You can adapt the design to accommodate two pie plates, a deep casserole dish or a 9 in. by 13 in. baking pan. If you’re a bread baker, size the safe for two loaf pans with a pull-out cutting board on the bottom.Whatever you’re toting, it will arrive in style and in one piece!

Pine’s a good choice for wood because it’s easy to work and light in weight.Acrylic doors allow for peeking and the brass handle is an easy grip. Total cost: around $35. (Note: The following how-to contains specific instructions for the food safe pictured here.)

The four sides are wide so you may have to glue up some stock. Plane the material to 5/8-in. thickness and mill to width and length (Fig.A). I like to cut the parts about 1/16-in. long so each box joint protrudes about 1/32 in. It’s better to sand the pins flush to the sides than the sides flush to the pins! Once the box joints are milled (Photo 1), take the two side panels and make the dadoes for the two sliding doors. The acrylic I used came a little under thickness so it worked well to make the dadoes right at 1/4 in. Next make the dado for the upper sliding tray. Now is a good time to finish sand the inside surfaces.

Gluing and clamping all four sides at once takes four hands; here’s a better way: Dry clamp the four sides, pull the top off the sides and brush glue onto the mating surfaces of the exposed pins. Replace the top and clamp (Photo 2). Make sure the top is square to the sides. When dry, flip over and repeat the gluing process with the bottom panel. When the glue is dry, you can sand the joints flush. Cut the tray bottoms from 1/8-in. hardboard. The upper tray bottom is wider than the lower tray because it needs a lip to slide in the side dado. Cut and attach the rim boards.

Your hardware store can cut the acrylic doors for you. If you choose to cut them yourself, use an 80-tooth, carbide- tipped triple chip design or a finetooth steel plywood blade. To remove saw marks on the edges of the acrylic, use a sanding block. The wood trim on the doors serves as a finger grip and is attached with epoxy. Scuff the acrylic with sandpaper and tape off any place you don’t want smeared with epoxy. Peel off the tape when the epoxy is still semisoft.

Stain and finish to your liking.Add the handle and you’re ready to go.

Cutting List

Fig. A:

Click any image to view a larger version.

1. Routing box joints with a dovetail jig is very fast (this one is by Keller).The jig is easy to set up, reliably accurate and can also be used to make dovetails.

2. Clamp up the box using cauls to clear the protruding pins.Taping the cauls in place makes the job easier. For easy cleanup, line the corners with masking tape to catch glue squeeze out.


Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.

Woodworker’s Supply, 800-645-9292, Brass handle, Item # 941-183; Keller 15" journeyman dovetail system, Item # 934-385.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker October 2000, issue #82.

October 2000, issue #82

Purchase this back issue.