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Make a Medieval Box (A Coffret)

I love all things medieval. And I have visited a lot of museums in America.

Of all the museums I have visited my favorite one is The Cloisters in New York City.

It is the only museum in America wholly devoted to the medieval period.

Every time I go I just have to take a look at this little wooden box they have.

This is the version I make in this tutorial. Looks pretty good!

The Medieval Box


Here is the original version and a bit of information about it.

The Original Medieval Box

It comes out of Southern France and was made between 1200 and 1225.

The box is made of walnut and the various images painted on the box depict the Adventures of William the count of Toulouse and his attempt to re-capture the city of Orange.

The box is based on a Chanson de Geste which is a French narrative poem of sorts. (A song of Heroic Deeds) The most famous of the Chanson de Geste is The Song of Roland.

This box is based on the Chanson de Guillaume (Song of William). It comes from the first half of the 11th century and tells the story of William and his attempt to recapture Orange from Muslim control. He disguised himself as one of them and entered the city under the pretext of delivering a message from the King. He consequently fell in love with the Muslim queen and was discovered and thrown in prison.

The Franks, came to rescue him and pitched their tents outside the city. They discovered a secret entrance into the city which allowed them to enter and rescue him.

I have more about the story of William here

Will Kalif

A note from Will: I love this box. Just the shape of it is wonderful. And you don't have to use the same images that I use. You can make your box with any pictures you want. Personalize it!



I use my medieval box to store various office supplies.

Inside the box



What is needed to make this project:

  • 1 sheet of foamcore (foamboard) I used black. It looks much better for this project but you can use white foamboard or even corrugated cardboard.
  • This picture shows a sheet of white foamboard in the background (ROSS) and the sheet of black Elmer's foamboard I am holding. It is a little more expensive than the white but it is really nice for this project. I bought the black foamboard at walmart for 3 dollars and change. The white foamboard was 88 cents!
  • Ruler, scissors, glue and optional hot glue gun
  • The hot glue gun would make it faster and stronger
  • If you want this design and artwork I have it right here in a pdf, includes more instructions and all the artwork for the box (The Coffret art work)


Black Foam board

Here are the blueprints for all the parts of the box.

The blueprints for the box

The illustrations


Cut out the illustrations


Apply Glue


Apply the illustration to the part


Assemble the box


Continue the assembly


The bottom half of the box is assembled


Let's work on the lid of the box. If you bevel the edges it will fit much neater and look better. You can see the bevel in this picture.

The bevel on the lid


Here is a side view look at the bevel.








You bevel by cutting at an angle.








In this picture I have only beveled the bottom edge of that blank piece. I will go ahead and bevel all four edges.

How the lid fits



assembling the lid


More lid assembly


More lid assembly



Apply glue for the top


Apply top piece


How the hinger will go


The hinges are in place


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