Mystery box

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Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
7 Jul 2010
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Mystery box somebody asked me to clean off the lid as they wanted it for a blanket chest, which I duly did


But it's an odd one and I thought this might be recognisable to somebody into industrial archaeology.

It's quite hefty with boards all 1" ish.
Boards a random selection of different pine, pitch pine and one piece definitely douglas fir
The lip around the lid poplar
Lid designed to stay open vertically past dead centre with bevels
No handles or signs thereof, no feet, suggests it was made to stay in one place
Smells of creosote - totally unsuited as a blanket chest!
Has odd half dovetails - a proper machine "box" joint in that both pieces are cut the same, unlike normal dovetails. This joint would stop the sides coming away sideways but would be loosened if the box was lifted - which it is not designed for. Also a very "industrial" joint designed for simple machining and easy fit


Inside it looks unworn but there are screw holes as though it had fixtures under the lid, on the sides and the bottom perhaps to hold other things, and there's a mystery design scribed under the lid


It obviously hasn't been moved around a lot and I guess it was a permanent fixture against a machine of some sort, holding accessories perhaps. Found in Buxton so could be from a cotton mill?
A sturdy lock fitted.

Maybe a familiar sight to someone - any ideas?
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Lovely wood.
Well good quality, but left over odds and ends I thought. Not chosen for appearance - the basic colour scheme is creosote! Just one of the top boards was douglas fir, which I wouldn't have guessed until I'd planed it clean
Just revisiting this with an afterthought. Wooden water cisterns were common, lined with copper or lead.
I've removed a couple from toilets during renovation work years ago - unfortunately didn't look too closely or take snaps!
They'd need a strong DT joint to hold together, but normal DTs only lock one way - either the ends or the sides could blow out depending on which way they were cut.
Is this box made with special "cistern" DTs which would lock both ways?
Maybe you'd find them on other traditional storage boxes such as flour chests?
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Water check dovetails I picked up on this at the time out of interest.
Interesting. Boat building to keep water out, cistern building to keep water in - makes a difference?
Makes you wonder how many other variations there are on DTs and other box joints
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