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Block of the Week: Chest

Thinking Inside the Box

Minecraft's inventory is a pretty decent size, but once you've acquired several tools (and a few replacement tools for the ones that break), food, torches, a map, compass, and some building materials, you're starting to run short of space to store anything you pick up in the world.

Enter the humble chest. First introduced in Minecraft version 0.31 on the 24th January 2010, before it was even possible to craft items, the first chests would crash the game if you put too many of them next to each other. Oops. It took until version 1.5, more than a year later, before all the bugs were ironed out.

Chests, in human history, have been around since someone first had the bright idea of putting a lid on a box. How clever! For a long time, in many places, a chest was the only piece of furniture in a house - used not only for storage but as a place to sit and even to sleep. They weren't very comfortable, but at least they kept you off the cold floor and the bugs.

Many early chests were made from hollowed-out logs, but Fine Woodworking magazine points out that this isn't a very good way to construct a piece of furniture - it tends to crack quite easily under weight. It wasn't until the Middle ages that security became a more important consideration in chest design, and people started making metal edgings.

Not long afterwards, chests diversified into all kinds of categories - "coffers" for storing valuables, "trunks" for travelling, "cassones" in Renaissance Italy for carrying the dowry goods in a marriage ceremony. In the Arab world, a "muqaddimah" held a bride's personal posessions, while in Ukraine chests were a valuable heirloom - an indicator of a peasant family's wealth.

As carpentry skills improved over the centuries, chests began getting more and more complicated. First, a drawer was installed below the main compartment, then the entire main compartment was replaced with drawers - which is why the modern furniture item is called a "chest of drawers". Bet you didn't realise there was so much to know about chests!

Today a chest or two is probably one of the first things you build in a new Minecraft world, and any house worth living in has a dedicated storage area that's organised carefully in a system that only its creator fully understands.

Us? Early-game we like to split resources into "organic" and "inorganic", then later on into a system that differentiates between building materials, crafting resources, tools and armour, consumables and the always-popular "misc". How about you?

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere

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