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Has anyone ever built a coffin?

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Blog entry by richgreer posted 1604 days ago 4094 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m seriously considering building a coffin that would be for my father when he passes on. He is currently 89 and in poor health.

It would mean a lot to me (and probably to him) to be laid away in a coffin that was built by his oldest son and someone who loves him dearly. Yes, we would probably save some money, but that is not the objective.

What I worry about is running into technical/legal issues. Are there rules about the latch or hinges on a coffin? Are there any other regulatory requirements that I should be aware of?

Does anyone have any experience or knowledge on this subject.

Of course, this is the kind of project I need to do in advance. I can’t wait until we need a coffin to start building it.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.



14 comments so far

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12246 posts in 2694 days


#1 posted 1604 days ago

I would check with Mark DeCoup.

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/1529

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Jason Tetterton's profile

Jason Tetterton

48 posts in 1619 days


#2 posted 1604 days ago

Sorry to hear of your father’s health. I think building a coffin would be an exceptional way to show your love and respect for your father when he passes. I was reading the rockler catalog the other day and they had a small section on Coffin’s and coffin building, I just breezed by it. If I recall, they had plans, hardware, etc. Good luck with your project.

Jason

-- Jason, Central Virginia

View Broooklyn's profile

Broooklyn

48 posts in 1644 days


#3 posted 1604 days ago

That is a great idea, Rich. I hope it works out.

-- Matt - Brooklyn, NY

View patron's profile

patron

12955 posts in 1938 days


#4 posted 1604 days ago

check with your state regs. ,
some require that you have the coffin inside of a ’ caisson ’ that the state supplys .
the inside dimensions of it are important .

you can’t go wrong , building your own ,
the mortuarys cost a fortune for their boxes ,
and try to scam you into buying theirs .

God bless you and your family in this .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

6770 posts in 1900 days


#5 posted 1604 days ago

rich i started a small blog a long while back with the intentions of building mine and my wife’s..and putting them in storage for the needed day…and i got started on them but then got side tracked…but i just called the local mortuary and asked them about regulations and such..here in Alabama…we didn’t have any…they just said make sure the bottom is made well and secure…didn’t want any thing to fall out from the bottom…so call yours and see what they say….it would be grand to do that for your father….grizzman…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View patron's profile

patron

12955 posts in 1938 days


#6 posted 1604 days ago

check with your state regs. ,
some require that you have the coffin inside of a ’ caisson ’ that the state supply’s .
the inside dimensions of it are important .

you can’t go wrong , building your own ,
the mortuary’s cost a fortune for their boxes ,
and try to scam you into buying theirs .

God bless you and your family in this .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1828 days


#7 posted 1604 days ago

Sorry to hear of your Father’s declining health.

Regulations for caskets varies not only by state, but frequently, by municipality. Check with your local court clerk’s office to start finding out what the laws are regarding burial.

Funny thing is, I personally couldn’t think of a finer final tribute to your father than the time, effort, and expense you invest into building a casket. It is much easier to just pick one from a catalog, much more meaningful to put the family touch on it.

You might want to make the casket a family affair if there are other siblings, or in laws with skills that want to be involved…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View christherookie's profile

christherookie

45 posts in 1643 days


#8 posted 1604 days ago

In all seriousness, I say ask him first if you could do it to honor him. I’d rather be approached like that than hear someone is building my coffin while I’m still alive.

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4522 posts in 1671 days


#9 posted 1604 days ago

christherookie makes an excellent point. Thank you.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View alexbarlage's profile

alexbarlage

41 posts in 1639 days


#10 posted 1604 days ago

I’ve considered building my own but don’t want to jinx anything. Also, if I did build my own, I’d probably end up living until I was 108.

You never know with these things…Chris made a really point. This is the best thing about site, different views and perspectives, no matter what the topic is.

-- The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.

View noknot's profile

noknot

548 posts in 2038 days


#11 posted 1604 days ago

Rich that would be kind of odd if someone said hey dad your coffin is ready. I had a long discussion with my grandfather when he was ill about building his ern. He was exited and told me what he wanted and expected but he didnt want it done until he was done ya know

-- GO DAWGS!

View jm82435's profile

jm82435

1228 posts in 2339 days


#12 posted 1604 days ago

I have built a few. I agree, if he is able to talk about it, I would start there. He probably would even have ideas on designs. My brother in law was very sick with cancer when he asked me to build his. He was very specific with what he wanted and was able to see it before his death. My Dad also lined me out how he wanted his on his deathbed. I don’t really recommend waiting til after one is needed, but often that is how it works out. I posted one we built for a grand niece: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/23002

Anyway my .02: It is up to the cemetery, they can make their own rules. Some require a vault (as Patron mentioned). If you know where he will be buried check with the cemetery board for their requirements. If you have a funeral director, (where you will purchase the vault if needed) he can help you with the sizes.
As for hinges, latches and other supplies – Rockler sells them. (no rules)
http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=898&filter=coffin
http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=897&filter=coffin

I think it is a wonderful thing you are considering. There is solace and closure in building one last gift for your loved one. I highly recommend it.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View Zuki's profile

Zuki

1404 posts in 2674 days


#13 posted 1604 days ago

View dragginbutt's profile

dragginbutt

28 posts in 1727 days


#14 posted 1568 days ago

It comes down to making sure of your standard dimensions. The outer caison is commonly called a vault, and they are a standard size. It is a federal law, that if you choose to provide your own casket, the funeral home is bound by law to use it without a fee. They will charge you for the carriage underneath it etc, but the Casket cannot be charged for. I’ve seen cardboard boxes. They are legal.

Look around on this website, there was a gentleman not too long ago that displayed his caskets. I am sure he would offer some advice. Also, you can find a lot of source info by just doing a search on DIY casket or something like that.

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