DIY Small Wooden Display Case (or French Cheese Safe)

Making a small wooden display case (or French cheese safe) is easy by following my detailed instructions.

Wooden display cabinet sitting on counter in kitchen.

Ready to get started?

A French cheese safe 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.  Because the cabinet is small in size, it makes for a beautiful countertop or console table piece to display decor.

I created a replica for my book, French Vintage Decor, and used a thicker wire mesh than would normally be used. It’s a great way to display any cute decor or kitchen items rather than just cheese the way the French once did.

I’m sharing the details of how we did it today in full detail! Once you know how to make one, you can customize it to make one that is truly custom for your home.

Before we get started, I’m sharing with you some authentic cheese safes so you get an idea of what these small wooden cabinets truly look like.

Examples of Vintage Cheese Safes

Vintage cheese safe from Dreamy Whites blog.
via Dreamy Whites
Wooden vintage French cheese safe from Dreamy Whites.
via Dreamy Whites
Wooden cheese safe from Hwit Blogg.
via Hwit Blogg
Wooden cheese safe with mesh screens.
via Mallejet

How to make a small wooden cabinet or cheese safe

Here is what you’ll need.

Materials: 

Cut List

Back and Front Frames:

  • Top & bottom: 1 x 2 cut 13 ½ inches long – four pieces
  • Sides: 1 x 2 cut  21 inches long – four pieces
  • Two side frames:
  • Top & bottom: 1 x 2 cut 9 long – four pieces
  • Sides: 1 x 2 cut 24 inches long – four pieces

Door:

  • Top and bottom 1 x 2 cut 10 ½ inches long- two pieces
  • Sides 1 x 2 cut 18 inches long –  two pieces
  • Brace for shelves:  1 x 2 cut 9 ⅞ inches long – 2 pieces
  • Shelf slats: 1 x 3 cut 12 inches – 3 pieces 
  • Bottom and top:  1 x 6 cut 12 inches long – four pieces
  • Middle piece 1 x 2 cut lengthwise to 1 inch and 12 inches long  
  • Inner support posts 1 x 1 cut 22 ½ inches long – four pieces

Directions: 

  1. Glue the 3 pieces together for the base and 3 pieces for the top. 
Cut pieces of wood on table.

2. Build the back frame and side frames by hot gluing them together. 

2 frame pieces of wood laying on table.

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. 

Screens attached to wooden frames.

4. Glue the support posts into place using the frames as a reference for straightness.

Base of wooden display case.
Making a wooden display case.

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. 

6. Glue the shelf braces and glue on the shelf slats using the hot glue. 

Attaching frame pieces to wooden display case.

7. Glue the back frame first making sure it’s centered with equal distance on each side

Adding mesh to frames of a wooden display cabinet.

8. Then glue the side frames into place.  The frames go in front of the bottom base not glued on top. 

Making a wooden display case from scratch.

9. Glue and nail the front frame (the only frame without a screen).

10. Dab glue on top of each post and insert the top.

Putting final pieces together of wooden display case.

11. Secure everything now with a brad nailer, nailing in approximately every four inches (about 3-5 nails on every frame board) making sure your nailing into the support posts and frames nailed to each other. 

12. Glue and nail the door together switching to 2 inch brad nails and install the screen using the same directions as above. 

13. Sand everything down for a smooth finish. 

14. Install hinges spacing out evenly and install the handle or latch. 

Sidebar:  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. 

The finished result

Wooden display case on kitchen countertop.

It’s the perfect cabinet to display any cups and bowls are sweet vintage decor items.

French decor items displayed inside wooden display case.
Wooden display case in kitchen with mesh screens.

What do you think? Do you think this is something that you can build yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

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How to make a small wooden display case or French cheese safe.

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2 Comments

  1. Claudia…..I know what you mean about scrolling thru the ads. I changed my browser to “Brave” and have no ads! It really makes a difference!

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