Plans for an Urn (Serious Post)

I know this may seem like a morbid project but I am looking to this group for help on building an urn for my father.
He is very ill and my mother has asked me to start looking at what will be inevitable. I would like to build him an urn for his final resting place as he will be cremated when he passes on. This will be my first serious project in many years and I need help. If any of you have plans, could help me out with locating some, or would even like to draw some up for me or talk to me about how to start this I will be very grateful.
I lurk here a lot and listen and sometimes post. I have done work with renovations and built a bench but no real woodworking projects since I was 15. I respect the advice of a lot of you guys and hope that you can help me out.
Thank you for your consideration.
John Van Schaik
John V
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John I went through the same stage you are. I lost my Dad one year ago. I built something that was a combination of ideas that I had, but no specific plan. I wil post a few pics in ABPF of what evolved.
I did not draw plans, but built to the dimensions that would accept the container that we received from the Mortuary. The top is fixed and access is from a bottom panel that I placed the container inside then fastened with figure eights.
HTH Joe
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John, first let me offer my condolences and wishes that his remaining time is comfortable and peaceful. If you haven't done so already, you may want to contact your local Hospice organization.
A few years ago, I built a box for the ashes of a friend of mine, who was a regular poster here on the Wreck. I've got a picture on the web at: http://groups.msn.com/StuffbyDaveWife/recentprojects.msnw It's labelled "Paul's Box".
Basically, I came up with a box design that was large enough to hold the cylindrical box that came from the funeral home with the ashes. Like another poster, the opening for this box was in the bottom, so that it could be sealed tight, and the fasteners wouldn't be seen.
This box was made with mortise and tenon joints. It could probably be made with pocket screws, which would make it easier if you are not comfortable doing m&t's. I made a fairly fancy top, but a simpler one could be done. If this interests you, or any of the other box designs on the page, you can email me at snipped-for-privacy@aol.com.
David
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I am very sorry to hear of your father's illness...
I have made, turned actually, several urns for cremains for family and friends. The standard containers used by crematoriums can hold 250-300 cubic inches (a rectangular volume 8"x8"x4-8" is a good starting point, as is a 6-7" diameter by 9" high cylinder, and remember that these are inside dimensions), and these suffice for the vast majority of cases, however individuals can use two or even sometimes three containers. You can, as pointed out here, build a box to hold the containers you will be given, or you can transfer the cremains into your urn (there will be a plastic bag inside the container with identifying tags, etc, that should be transferred intact). It is important that the urn not leak or open once closed, so you are looking to securely close it with glue or fasteners.
Good luck with this project. This will be among the most rewarding things you ever do, and it will be among the slowest to work on and finish....
Michael Latcha - at home in Redford, MI

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Building a container for a loved ones remains is not a morbid project. Death is as much a part of life as birth....However, dealing with the passing of a loved one is a deeply personal experience, and depends on many things. Last fall, my mother passed away, without much warning, although she had been in declining health for some time. I learned then, from my father, that she wished to be cremated.
At the mortuary, my father, my wife and I discussed some of the requirements for the process to continue. We decided to build the container which would hold my mother's body for the cremation process, and also to make a container which would function as an urn, for the cremated remains.
For a number of reasons, we had several days to make, and then deliver, the large box, as it came to be called, and then several more days to complete the small box. I can tell you that having those projects to do, at that point on our experience, was a very valuable means of dealing with our emotions. Having my sisters there, and my father, helping to make decisions, helping to move stock through the machines, helping sand and pad shellac, gave us an opportunity to talk, cry, laugh, tell stories, and generally deal with telling our mother goodbye. It gave our hands something to do while we arranged travel, accomodations, services, took a few of the many telephone calls from special friends, and tried slowly to move forward. A really good thing for all concerned, under the circumstances.
Now regarding plans: One aspect of the design which may escape some discussion has to do with what is to eventually become of the cremated remains. In our case, when my father passes, and is cremated, both of the 'small boxes' will be taken out to the coast, and scattered in the Pacific Ocean. We do not desire to destroy either box in that process, so the design was to have the small box screwed shut, from underneath, with waxed and shellaced brass screws. Enough to preclude inadvertant opening, but not really industrial strength.
Since you have a little time, perhaps, consider the wood you will use. In our case, I built the small box for my mother from California Black Oak, which is native to the county in which she grew up. The inside bottom and top were lined with curly Claro walnut, harvested from the county from which her step-father's family had lived for several generations. The design was really simple, mechanically - a mitered oak box, with black walnut corner keys, and a book matched top and bottom. More coats of padded blone shellac than I counted. Clear wax, rubbed out with 0000 synthetic (white) steel wool.
What I'm saying is that you may have an opportunity to make the wood part of the story...
5 months later, I talk to my Dad almost every day. We work in my garage- shop-studio together almost every weekend, on some project or another. After their 55+ years together, I worry most about him being lonely. Oh, and I really enjoy the time with him, too. There won't be too many more years together on this side of the veil....
God bless you in your service to your father and mother and family.
Patriarch
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Thank you for your responses and sentiment. I will look them over tonight.
Sincerely,
John V

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