Old Norwegian trunk, dovetails and other musings

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Forum topic by Boatman53 posted 224 days ago 1248 views 4 times favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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802 posts in 783 days

224 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: blanket chest dovetails dove tails carving trunk norwegian humor

My wife’s family has an amazing Norwegian “cabin” ( I use that term loosely) that was built in the early ‘50’s on an island off the coast of Maine. It is quite a magical place filled with carving very where, a sod roof and lots of antiques. One of the pieces I’ve always admired is a trunk that is used to store spare bedding.
This past summer I decided to take a closer look at it. I emptied it out and brought it outside to photograph. I was surprised at what I found.

The basic dimensions are: 40” long, 18” high with 7 1/4” legs I believe added later, and 20 1/2” front to back. The boards are approx 7/8” thick . A 1” crown to the lid. Mitered dovetailed corners with a spacing about 3”
The thing that really surprised me were the dovetails. They are really bad, with many shims and in more than one spot a shim driven into the pin instead of along side. But no matter it has survived a long time and continues on and I still like it.

Now I’ve been a fan of almost all things Norwegian for a long time, I really admire their wooden boats, woodcarving, knife making to mame a few. My wife is half Norwegian, her mother grew up in Oslo and this fall she was excited to find this so She sent us a couple of cans. Bless her heart.

I finally found something Norwegian I’m not fond of.

-- Jim, Long Island, NY home of the chain leg vise

39 replies so far

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3825 posts in 1038 days

#1 posted 224 days ago

Jim, cool chest! is the dating really 1765?

-- "Aged flatus, I heard that some one has already blown out your mortise." THE Surgeon ……………………………………. Kevin

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14553 posts in 2263 days

#2 posted 224 days ago

Being a 1/4, I find this especially interesting. Thanks for posting. I am wondering about the date too??

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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2062 posts in 1072 days

#3 posted 224 days ago

I guess the maker was a better carver than he was a joiner. It’s still a really cool piece.

-- Brian Timmons, Big T Woodworks - -

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1554 posts in 625 days

#4 posted 224 days ago

That chest needs appraised and insured.
The fishballs need to go back to Norway with a stern warning never to send them here again.

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

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1136 posts in 548 days

#5 posted 224 days ago

That’s really cool, thanks for sharing. Two positive things to say about the fish balls. At least they’re in brine, not urine. Apparently that’s a thing somewhere in Scandanavia, and two, at least they’re made of fish instead of being a fish’s crown jewels kinda like rocky mountain oysters.

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1147 posts in 1211 days

#6 posted 224 days ago

An exceptional chest, the carving, the dovetails…
FISH BALLS…................yummy

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

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2419 posts in 938 days

#7 posted 224 days ago

Beautiful chest, I’m wondering if the feet were added later, doesn’t seem to me to be the level of craftsmanship as the rest of the chest. Maybe it’s just the pictures. Thanks for posting.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Don W

14499 posts in 1154 days

#8 posted 224 days ago

Great chest. I’d pass on the fish balls.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View Boatman53's profile


802 posts in 783 days

#9 posted 224 days ago

I personally do not know how to date a Norwegian made trunk so what you see is what I’ve got. Do I believe it is that old? Yes. I believe the feet are not original, they could have been added when my wife’s grandmother acquired it in the early ‘50’s.
Those fish balls were bought in the US, my MIL lives in Mass. So can’t send them back. We did try them, they tasted like fish flavored dumplings. I doubt we will have the second can.
I’ll post up some more photos. In a few minuets.

-- Jim, Long Island, NY home of the chain leg vise

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381 posts in 342 days

#10 posted 224 days ago

I think the thing is gorgeous (the chest, not the fish balls). I’ve been researching chests and furniture (Spanish) made from about 1600 through around 1850, and that chest — other than the carvings — does fit the 1765 date pretty well. Love it (the chest, not the fish balls).

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

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802 posts in 783 days

#11 posted 224 days ago

Thanks Dawson. Here are some more photos, no fish balls. Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph the key because it is very ornate. It was removed for safe keeping because the house was rented this past summer.


-- Jim, Long Island, NY home of the chain leg vise

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381 posts in 342 days

#12 posted 224 days ago

Wow. Just simply… wow. All the construction details fit the period very well. The ironwork fits the period, too, although from the picture it looks like a screw in one shot (which would have been put in later). In that period screws were virtually nonexistent in furniture, except for very high-end stuff made in large cities for the very wealthy. Even then, they were rare. Nails, too, were seldom used: pegs, like in your picture were the standard. I can just about close my eyes and see that chest as it must have looked when it was new. Love the chip carving, too. All in all, a great old chest. Wish it were here in San Diego, so I could see it in person.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

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Pete Pedisich

126 posts in 1234 days

#13 posted 224 days ago

Jim that’s beautiful, thanks for sharing. -pete

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3521 posts in 1955 days

#14 posted 224 days ago

Unbelievable piece … 248 years old and still hanging in! I love the carving and how they have aged!

At one time live in Illinois just south of Monroe Wisconsin where some Norwegian chipcarvers/cabinet makers did some demos of there work at one of the city art fair. Considering the tools the limit themselves to use the work is outstanding. I could watch those chipcarvers for hours as they make art!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Boatman53's profile


802 posts in 783 days

#15 posted 224 days ago

You’re welcome Pete and everyone else that has responded. I should do a post on the house itself sometime it really is breath taking for a woodworker. There are other trunks and carved antiques throughout the house. If you have the book Built in Furniture by Jim Tolpin the carved built-in beds are shown in the book but he gives no credit to where he got the photos (I know) and claims no knowledge of builder or nothin’. Which really pissed me off, because we know everything about the house. Ok rant over.

-- Jim, Long Island, NY home of the chain leg vise

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