A Tourney Chest That Comes Apart

Recently I went by air to an out of kingdom weekend event, a weekend devoted to period cooking at which I was one of the instructors. I didn't like the idea of spending an SCA weekend living out of a suitcase, so designed a peg together tourney chest that broke down to a collection of planks that would fit in my luggage. The chest is loosely based on the Mastermeyer chest, a Norse chest from about 1000 A.D. originally containing a collection of tools; I modified the design, converting all the joints to pegged tenon and mortice so that it could be taken apart. Information on the original and a description of a much closer reconstruction is available on the web.

The chest consists of six pieces, five of which are shown below--two sides, two ends, a bottom and a top (not shown). The longest pieces are 25" long, which was just slightly less than the longest dimension of my suitcase. If you are making it for the same purpose I was, you will want to adjust the size accordingly, based on the dimensions of your luggage. The photograph shows all six pieces.

Cutting pattern for pieces

photo of chest pieces
I made the chest out of pine; you could use hardwood but it would be both heavier and more expensive. The pegs holding it together are short lengths of 3/8" diameter dowel going through 3/8" diameter holes; the holes are inset ½" from the edges of the bottom and side as shown. I used a router to make the grooves; if you don't have one you could use a chisel.

The trickiest parts were the lid and the hinges. The lid of the original is curved. To make something similar you start with  a ¾" thick plank 10.5"x22.5", hollow out the bottom and curve the top, as shown in the photographs. I used a router and then a chisel, but you could do it with just a chisel. My original plan was to attach the lid to the side in a way that let the two pieces fold flat but I was unable to find a way of doing that that looked right, so ended up attaching the hinge to the top with nails peened over--in effect rivets--and to the side with removable pegs. The figure above shows an expanded view of one of the pegs--a 5/16" dowel with two 3/16" holes in it that two short 3/16" dowels fit through. The exact distance between the holes will depend on the thickness of your hinge.

After I made it, someone suggested permanently attaching both parts of the hinge and making the hinge pin that held them together removable; if I do another one I may try that.

List of Materials:

1/2" pine: 2/25"x10.5, 1/25"x11.25"
3/4" pine: 2/12.5"x11.25". 1/22.5"x10.5"
Dowels: 3/8"x12",  5/16"x 9", 3/16"x5" (enough for some spares)
Hinges: One pair

Photos of the chest:

Closeup of hinge
Closeup of Hinge

Chest with lid closed
Chest with lid closed

Chest with lid open
Chest with lid open

Lid open closeup
Closeup with lid open

Chest without lid
Chest without lid
(Readers who look closely will see that I made the grooves deeper than recommonded in the instructions. I also had one end piece break as a result.)