Mastermyr Chest, upgraded

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Project by oldwolf posted 06-28-2009 03:50 AM 12725 views 7 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My other hobby is viking age reenactment, The Mastermyr chest find is one of the most complete links back to the history of woodworking, Blacksmiths pay a lot of attention to it because they can recreate the tools found within, but the tools in the chest were not just for working steel, but wood as well. The theory I agree with is it was a work set for a shipwright. A skill set that would include both woodworking and steel working.

It is a fun piece to reconstruct, both simple and subtlety sophisticated at the same time. I have built several versions of this chest, and will continue to do so until I feel I have perfected it. or played out all the options. All sides slope in towards the center and the base is held up by through mortises and square pins. This particular piece I created to enter into a competition. To up the ante a bit I added the dovetails to the original design. It took a lot of figuring and erasing for me to pull off the dovetails cut with the 5 degree slope.

The chest is very close to the actual measurements being a total of 14 inches from the ground and around 30 inches in length. It is built of Maple and finished with tung oil and a few coats of satin polyurethane.

-- Oldwolf -

10 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118065 posts in 4348 days

#1 posted 06-28-2009 04:47 AM

I’ve never seen a chest like this very interesting and well done


View Bureaucrat's profile


18341 posts in 4423 days

#2 posted 06-28-2009 06:00 AM

Great chest and nice job on the matched Celtic carvings. Roy Underhill, The Woodwright did a program on this type of chest. It can be found at

-- Gary D.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4656 days

#3 posted 06-28-2009 02:02 PM

Very nice!!!
Should the bright work (hinges/handles/hasp) be made of iron?

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View MattD's profile


150 posts in 4715 days

#4 posted 06-28-2009 06:07 PM

Nice work. Immediately reminded me of the Roy Underhill episode that Gary mentioned. Where did you get the celtic designs from?

Gary – Thanks for posted that link. I had no idea all those show were online.

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

View oldwolf's profile


100 posts in 4028 days

#5 posted 06-28-2009 07:34 PM

yes iron would be preferable, though the original chest shows no evidence of handles at all, or carvings, just a lock plate and strap hinges. This was not one of my attempts to recreate the exact piece but instead use it as a base design to work from, to see where I could push it. I chose bright brass to offset it in the same way the carvings would.

There is a book I own listing in high detail and drawings all the items and tools found in the mastermyr find,

Bureaucrat: Now that you mention it I do remember seeing that episode of the woodwright shop, I think it was in conjunction with visiting a blacksmith shop…I can’t wait to check out the link, Thank you. Hey I live in Northern Maine now but only moved from LaCrosse WI 6 months ago. Friends have told me the heat is killer there right now, hope you are weathering it well

MattD: The carvings came from a book I purchased at Barnes and Nobles with copyright free knotwork designs. I have done lots of knotwork carvings on my pieces, this is the first super intricate “animorphics” that I have done,

-- Oldwolf -

View MiloLeRoux's profile


1 post in 4000 days

#6 posted 07-23-2009 05:24 PM

This is an absolutely beautiful chest, sir! The craftsmanship of the chest itself as well as the artistry of the carving are very impressive. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 4206 days

#7 posted 07-31-2009 09:52 AM

Love this chest too! Keep it up! I do can not recall I have heard of anyone doing Viking Reenactments, very interesting.

I think that the Vikings and their history is very interesting… on a Class trip once we went to Denmark (Dänemark) and stay just south of Kopenhagen, it was so cool, we took a tour in Roskilde, which was at one time a major Viking port in a fjord there. They had a museum where they found like 4 old merchant ships and 1 sunken (complete!) warhip that was something like 30 metres long. They built then new ship replicas (all with old tool and by hand) from the old ones that they found and the large warship, they sailed it to Dublin (where, it was discovered from the wood somehow, it was origially built in something like 800 AD). It was something I will never forget, one of the coolest museums I have ever been to.

Anyway, great work, very interesting and something new… have you ever been to the Viking colonies there in New Foundland? That would be worth a days drive or so from Presque Isle I would bet! I have heard they are very interesting too.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View oldwolf's profile


100 posts in 4028 days

#8 posted 08-06-2009 04:33 AM

I would kill for the opportunity to take any kind of trip to Denmark, someday maybe I will have the chance to visit my ancestry. I have not yet made it up to the vinland colony, it is a bit of a trek, about 24hours if we drive straight through. It is high high high on my goals though.

Oh to get the chance to see the ships you describe, I believe you are a lucky man Nicholas.

oh and if anyone is interested in the viking reenactment thing there are several groups out there that do such, but I will use this opportunity to shamelessly plug the group I am co-founder of, (though a bit estranged as they are based in the midwest and I am now on the east coast)
We are Tribe Woden Thor, and you can check us out at


-- Oldwolf -

View TJ65's profile


1385 posts in 3820 days

#9 posted 08-19-2010 02:29 AM

Obviously I just checked out your other projects after I saw your hutch chest and saw this.
Lovely, I love this type of stuff. It looks very authentic.

-- Theresa,

View randomray's profile


111 posts in 3795 days

#10 posted 12-29-2011 07:52 AM

Nice chest , but your hardware is too pretty , pretty . LOL And yeah I follow and understand your reasoning for it too , not being critical .

-- Anybody can break something it takes skill to make or repair stuff .

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