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This is how you build a medieval chest

This is how you build a medieval chest



Or: How to make something useful out of old shelves

In the course of our small minimalism project (removing everything that has not been touched for more than a year), the old bookshelf had to give way. Yippieh! Lots of new space, other people are now enjoying our old novels, you can see the wall behind it again – However, a lot of shelves are now stacked in our workshop. And since nothing is thrown away in this house, something practical had to be made of it.

Tadaaaa! It has become a crockery box. You can never have enough boxes and chests anyway. It’s also relatively easy to build, so even I managed to do it. πŸ˜€

Since I was pretty broke (as always), the whole thing couldn’t cost that much. I only bought the handles. Everything else is leftover recycling. That is why I have completely done without wrought iron nails etc. in the chest. It is not based on any historical finds – so it is not suitable for living history!

So, let’s go!

Before you start:

Dear women, a little tip for you: Either you let your men / fathers / grandpas build the box, or you build it yourself. If you want to try it yourself (and you can do it), it is best to throw ALL male beings from the RAUS workshop. I speak from experience … Simply hand the lawnmower into your hand, then they are busy and you have your peace! Or a 5000-piece puzzle …

Dear men: If your wife / daughter / granddaughter would like to build the box alone – LEAVE IT. If she needs help, she’ll ask for advice. I speak from experience. β€œIt doesn’t work that way!”, β€œYou have to do it differently.”, β€œShouldn’t I do that?” NOBODY just wants to hear. And constant know-it-all only wastes time. So shut up and mow the lawn.

Also important: The instructions are aimed specifically at beginners who do not have a lot of experience with woodwork. If you already have more experience, it is best to adapt it to your work routine.

You need:

6 wooden boards

Wooden dowels

Wood glue

drilling machine

Drill attachments



Screw clamps

2 hinges

2 handles

if necessary stain in a color of your choice

Sandpaper (80, 120, 180 …)


Step 1: saw the boards to size

In the picture you can see the dimensions that I have chosen for my chest. When finished, it is 30cm x 70xm x 30 xm. The boards are 2cm thick. You don’t necessarily have to do the sawing yourself (unless you want to and have fun doing it). Most hardware stores offer it as a service. In a pinch you have to get your husband / father / neighbors / grandpa etc. back from mowing the lawn and let them do it. This also applies to men: if you don’t want to use a circular saw, and I know some who don’t like it, just ask someone who can. In my case, dad made it – I hate circular saws.

Of course, this can also be done with a hand saw, it just takes longer.

Step 2: glue everything together

Yep, now it’s time for the wood glue. As already described above, the box does (almost) without nails and screws.

So that the glue can drain better, I placed the floor board on two strips. This prevents it from sticking to the table later. The long side pieces come first.

Smear everything nicely with glue and then fasten with screw clamps. You don’t have to wait 24 hours for the glue to harden completely. I cooked lunch first and after that it was so firm that I could take off the fastenings.

Then continue with the short pages. If you have problems inserting these really well, you can take a small hammer and (carefully) hammer them into the right position. But now I’ve really waited 24 hours until everything was really tight.

Step 3: insert the wooden dowels

Of course you could leave the chest like that. Especially if you only want to use it at home, it is completely sufficient if it is only glued. If you want to take it with you to store like me, I would definitely reinforce it with dowels. Then it won’t fall apart when it rains for the first time and you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

So grab your drill and an attachment that is just as wide as your wooden dowels. This is important so that they hold up well and you can hit them well. Now it gets a little tricky (also for me, who wants to describe it to you):

The dowels should only be visible on the two long sides (nice for the look)

You have to drill through both boards to be connected, but no further than the dowel is long.

So that sounds more complicated than it is. It is easiest if the box is on one long side. Then you take half the board thickness and mark it on the edge. As described, my boards are 2cm wide, so I drew a line 1cm apart (you can still see it very faintly in the picture).

Next you determine how many dowels you want to use. I chose three on the short side and four on the board that is connected to the floor. You score points where you want them to go later. Of course, at the same distance as possible.

The problem remains with the drilling depth. As you can see in the picture, I used a depth gauge. Since not everyone has something like that at home, there is another possibility: You measure on the drill how deep you want to drill (about 5mm shorter than the dowel) and mark the spot with duct tape or painter’s tape. Now you can see how far you can drill.

Then you let a little wood glue run into the drilled holes again and insert the wooden dowels. Then just hit it hard once more with the hammer and let it dry.

And this is how it should look afterwards. Now you can hit the couch and watch Netflix – and let everything dry nicely.

Step 4: Saw off the protruding dowels

Next you grab a small saw and use it to cut off all the ends that protrude. If there are still bumps, that’s fine. You can drag them away. Theoretically, you could also grind the dowels right away, but that requires a lot of patience and takes much longer.

Step 5: sanding down

It may sound a little strange, as neither handles nor lids have been added to it yet. However, the box with handles and lid is much more difficult to sand down, which is why I’m already doing this. Don’t forget the lid!

You have to make the grain size of the sandpaper a little dependent on your wood. For me it was 80, 150, 180, 220. It’s best to go by your feeling. If it’s smooth enough for you guys, it’s right.

If you still want to stain your chest, now would be the right time for it.

Step 6: install the handles

I’ll tell you one thing: that was annoying! Unfortunately, I had God’s handles with split pins that were very difficult to bend apart. That was then when I asked the men for advice: D. Completely frustrated, I replaced the split pins on the second handle with eyelets. You can screw it, so it’s much easier and more suitable for beginners.

Here you measure the diameter of the screws / split pins and then again how far apart the rings should be. Then drill two holes and push them through.

Finally, carefully hit it with the hammer so that everything is in place and then either bend the cotter pins or fasten the screws with a nut.

In the picture you can see the variant with the split pins. As I said – not recommended for beginners.

If you do not want to buy forged handles, I advise you to use thick ropes that you knot in the box.

Step 7: assemble the lid

You are almost there! Finally, you just put the lid on the box and screw the hinges tight. This is easier if you mark the points for the screws beforehand and pre-drill them with a slightly smaller drill. Only about 3-4mm, that’s enough. Then the screws have a little more grip and it is easier for you.

And of course the hinges are attached to the outside. πŸ˜€

Correct medieval-looking hinges are unfortunately quite expensive. That’s why I got simple hinges for the box from the hardware store and painted it black with metal paint. If they are degreased well beforehand, it will hold up pretty well and is an inexpensive solution in my opinion. Sure, it’s not A at all, but it’s not that noticeable.

And then you did it! A simple, but easy to build box in which you can stow everything possible. There are also no limits when it comes to decoration. I’ll show you how I designed my crockery box. First of all, that’s the basic structure, you can make whatever you want out of it!

What do your boxes and chests look like? There are a thousand different variants. What did you build it from? Or will it be your first self-made one?

I hope the instructions were halfway understandable and that you now feel like turning your old boards into something beautiful and practical! If you have any questions, please send me a message and a comment.

Until then, have fun building!


In this post I will show you how you can build a box or chest for your warehouse with simple means, almost without nails and screws.




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