Ryan’s 21st Century Six Plank Oak Coffer

Viewer Project - By Ryan Miller from Matawan, NJ
Added on August 6, 2015

The Medieval Coffer Chest was originally designed as a way for nobility and kings to store their money and valuables so that it all could be transported if necessary. The coffer chest was also used by common folk to store linens, clothing or other household items. In addition to a storage container the coffer’s flat top doubled as a seat, desk or in some cases a bed.

I have a very small wood shop set up in my basement. I usually do 2-3 commission pieces a year, but last summer I decided to make something for myself. Inspired after reading a book about life in the Middle Ages, I began thinking about a medieval reproduction style project that I could make in my free time.

This traditional six plank red oak coffer was put together with basic butt joints utilizing one piece “fishtail” style legs. I used wood screws to fasten everything together. The screw holes were countersunk and filled with oak plugs. The hinges are standard black strap gate hinges that I bent and battered to fit my purpose. I found the rams head design on a 17th century antique coffer and I thought it would give the piece a more authentic feel. I customized the design enough to make it my own. I omitted the large lock plate that most coffers had in the front and I filled that space with an elongated infinity symbol, common for the period. I added some stylized monastic quatrefoil designs to the sides and a rope design for the top.

I do all of my carving with a standard Dremel Rotary Tool. I mainly use carbide burrs in assorted shapes but I definitely favor a flame shape. I then hand sanded everything to 220 grit and finished it off with a few coats of Minwax Wood Finish in chestnut. I did a little bartering with my friend Manny at MTC Photography and he took these great photos for me.


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