Little Canfield Coffer

Plans for Coffer Class run by Count Arlof at the Unity College Medieval Schola, 2016

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS: Attached is a sketch that also gives you the dimensions of all of the pieces you need to reconstruct the feast gear boxes we made this weekend. The design is based on the Little Canfield Coffer, a 13th Century Chest. Here’s an article I wrote about an earlier reconstruction of the box many years ago.. (ignore the dimensions in the PDF..that was for a larger version).

13043721_771713612973299_175889371632065757_nTo make the box, here’s the basic info you need.

Wood: See the diagram. Cut all pieces to size. Don’t forget to cut two battens for the chest top. These go inside. Buy dowels at a woodworker supply place, they should be about 2 inches long..or make your own from a 3/8-inch hobby dowel. Also, you will need some small dimension strips of pine (1″ x 3/4″) and a piece of plywood to serve as the bottom. 3/8-inch thickness plywood is fine.

Lay out each of the four wall panels and the chest top on the floor or a big table.

Pre-drill the front and back panel assemblies for dowels with a 1/8-inch bit, followed by a 3/8-inch bit. Drill only half the depth of the dowel pieces.

Add waterproof wood glue to the 3/8-inch dowels and put the panels together. Clamp. Get the big clamps at Harbor Freight for about $5.00 each.

For the end panels, pre-drill with 1/8-inch bit, 2 inches from the end of the narrow top board, and insert a Tremont nail. Drive it home. Now flip the panel so that the nail heads are contacting a heavy piece of metal, an anvil or railroad tie or even a sledgehammer head. Bend the nail over and pound it flat to “clinch” the boards together.

Put the two wider boards on the end panel together with a couple of glued dowels.

You now have all four of the chest side panels ready.

Lay out the top. Place the battens in about 5 1/2 inches from the end of the board. Center the battens. Glue and nail them in place with 1 1/4-inch finish nails. This is just to hold them for clinched nails later.

13076696_771574682987192_7068133024045910847_n.jpg Clamp the four sides together. Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes straight through from the front and back of the box into the side panels. You will need about 4 dowels per corner. These dowels will be visible and add a cool detail to your finished box.

Now go back to your chest top. Pre-drill four holes in the batten, one on each end and two in the middle. Insert Tremont nails, with the head on the smooth side of the top. “Clinch” the nails to hold the battens strongly to the cover boards.

For the bottom, attach a piece of 1″ x 3/4-inch pine around the bottom with glue and 1 1/4″ finish nails, and set a plywood or board base on top of these supports. Glue and nail it in place.


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