Mission/DeCou-Style Burial Casket; How to Build Your Own Casket

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 06-01-2007 12:35 AM 15795 views 17 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch


UPDATE 3-28-2012:

After Posting my Casket Stories and Photos on Lumberjocks, I have been overwhelmed by the response from readers. There is quite a thread of folks wanting to assist in their funeral planning by building their own casket, or building one for a close friend or family member. There are many reasons a person would build their own casket, including saving money, assisting someone with a need they have, doing something custom made because it is special, just because you want to, keeping your hands busy at something during the grieving process, a conversation piece, etc.

All of this email traffic about caskets has relayed to me some really sad stories, and stories of great courage, and exposed a real desire by some do-it-yourself folks to build a casket. And, there isn’t much on the internet or in Print Form to help you get started.

So, All of this internet attention lead me to a teaching invitation at the John Campbell Folk School in the summer of 2011 on the art of casket making.

To assist the students in that class I wrote a step-by-step instruction book and drew some drawings, making the Book a total of 78 pages. There isn’t much help in book form, or the internet, for making your own casket, so I tried to use my Book as a way to teach the project, but also teach woodworking skills in the process.

If you would like a copy of my Book/Plans, visit my store to purchase a copy for yourself


I built this Casket specifically for my Uncle, but if you would like to order a casket from me, email me and we can discuss your thoughts and the details.

Email: (

This casket was built from Red Oak and Kansas Walnut.

Thanks for looking,
Mark DeCou

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If you decide to read more on this project, you can see my three blog posts on this subject:

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Here is a Link to my First Casket Building Project Story

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

13 comments so far

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 3075 days

#1 posted 06-01-2007 01:00 AM

This has been a great project to follow.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 3338 days

#2 posted 06-01-2007 01:30 AM

What can a person say,
You must have had a lot of love for your Uncle John.
It looks like you put your whole heart, & then some into this one.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View rentman's profile


230 posts in 3133 days

#3 posted 06-01-2007 01:40 AM

what a great thing to do for your uncle,reading your blogs it sounds like you will really miss him.very nice work.

-- Phil, Chattanooga,TN

View schroeder's profile


695 posts in 3164 days

#4 posted 06-01-2007 02:16 AM

Mark, sorry for your loss…That looks like a Thorsen table to me! – You’ve got my vote!, (a “craftsman coffin”/table – wonders never cease! – Great looking work!)...And I love the speal – I mean story ;-) behind this Thorsen table.

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View Karson's profile


34987 posts in 3439 days

#5 posted 06-01-2007 02:25 AM

Mark: Great Table. Its tough to be called a side table, but It’s almost dining room size. Congratulations on finishing.

I know in my heart that we will see another table sometime soon from the great

Your bud Karson

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 3199 days

#6 posted 06-01-2007 04:33 AM

a sad day; a magnificent gift of love…. It has been an honour to have been able to follow along these past few months. My thoughts to you and all the family/friends.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

513 posts in 3108 days

#7 posted 06-01-2007 04:41 AM

Nice Job .What an emotional project.

-- Scott NM,

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 3285 days

#8 posted 06-01-2007 06:16 AM

We have’nt talked much lately buddy but you have to know I’m thinking of you and your family and praying for you at this time of sadness and rejoiceing. buds, mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View CharlieM1958's profile


16097 posts in 3257 days

#9 posted 06-01-2007 03:32 PM

Gorgeous work, Mark.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Phil Brown's profile

Phil Brown

219 posts in 3097 days

#10 posted 06-02-2007 04:30 PM

I almost missed seeing this as I’ve been working on a second casket as well and haven’t been able to get to the computer. Awesome job Mark. I like the look of the square edges on the lid and didn’t router the first edge on my lid as well giving it a more masculine look, as this casket is for a family friend, Jim. Your suggestion to use removeable art has come into being as the family asked me to cut the lid in three and give each member part of the painted scene as a remembrance. Thanks for the idea buddy.

-- Phil Brown, Ontario

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2005 posts in 3444 days

#11 posted 06-22-2007 01:47 PM

Last week I made up a new brochure for my casket work. I call it: “Flinthill’s Handmade Art-Caskets.”

How’s that for a mouthful?

I am hearing from folks that with the current high cost of full-body funerals, that more and more people are going the cremation route. A nice memorial box for the ashes of the body could also be a good project for a lumberjock to build.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View oscorner's profile


4564 posts in 3350 days

#12 posted 06-22-2007 02:50 PM

Your work is amazing as always.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View bigike's profile


4042 posts in 2327 days

#13 posted 03-03-2010 12:28 AM

this is perfect i’ve been looking for something like this for a little bit now. thanks for the posting

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

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