In another message someone briefly mentioned coffins. I never really
thought about that..how some people develop a love for woodworking, and
decide one day that they wanna give a custom coffin a try. That's one
project you will probably never see on a woodworking show!
Coffins aren't really handmade anyway are they?
My uncle used to work in a coffin shop in N.H. did a lot of the work by
hand. Was shocked by the price when they went to get a coffin for his
father. Went ahead and made the coffin himself while his dad's brothers made
up the fabric for the inside, pillows, etc. Probably late 1970s???
Now lots are metal instead.
I lived in Merrimac NH until 1992. An elderly gentleman (lived down the
road from me) was working in his yard building an odd shaped box. I
spoke to one of my neighbors (they had been there since dirt was
invented) and said the man was building a coffin. He said that this man
built a coffin for everybody in his family that was sick and not expected
to live. The neighbor also said that the man had built a coffin for
himself and always kept one in the shed for others of his family that
died suddenly. For what it's worth, he was using a hand plane when I saw
him building the coffin. My neighbor didn't know why he built the coffins
and I wasn't going to ask the man (you don't do that in NH).
I've seen plans offered for them, as well as the hardware needed.
If you are not in DIY mode, you can order one from the Trappists Monks.
IIRC, Mike at American Sycamore was asking if people would be interested in
a class on them about a year ago. I know others here have made them for
family. It would take me too long to have one ready in a few days.
OTOH, I keep telling my wife I'll make her a curio cabinet with removable
shelves. Upon my demise, pop out the shelves and trinkets, pop in my body
and slip it down the front steps.
Mike Here from American Sycamore....we did hold a coffin building class
here at the school and we had eight people sign up and build their own
coffin. I had planned to go to the Amish sawmill and buy slab lumber
and build them but my students wanted to build them out of cherry and
walnut. They turned out beautiful and on the last day of class
everyone got in their coffins and laid-out. Looked real scary!! We
made the ol'fashioned 6 sided with lid. Some were going to be book
cases, others were used to hold liqour, and one was going to be used by
a dieing friend. The fun part was this was Halloween week!
Had a friend whose family made a big deal out of the 50th birthday. The
honoree was presented with a coffin. Gurk. He decided that he would
like it hinged and shelved for use as bar shelves. So I was volunteered
to do the dirty work. I had it in my garage/shop. In the last step, I
laid meself init with a light and pencil to mark the spots for the
hinges. My across-the-street neighbor witnessed part of this and came
to investigate (with trepidation). The first thing I hear from inside
the coffin is "John, are you all right?". Wonderful.
Interesting that you bring up the former Pope's coffin - there was an
article about that in the most recent Popular Woodworking. Apparently
the dovetails were definitely hand-cut, as they are very wide and not
exactly at the same angles. The writer of the article (and several
other people) tried to find out who made the coffin, but nobody knew or
would tell them, even though they had contacts high in the Catholic
church and the Vatican. I can't decide who I agree with - the writers
who want to give credit where it is due, or the former Pope's friends
who want it to remain anonymous and not a big deal.
Anyway, given the venue of this discussion, it was a very impressive
piece of work.
There's an expanding market in coffins for fatsos. Many of these are
handmade, because the lardasses just don't fit standard issue. They may
also need extra strengthening, more handles, or even off-road wheels
(some of these are now simply too big to carry)
The US market is however more corrupt and graft-based than even the UK
market, so it's a hard market to break into. I've done cremation
caskets and coffin repairs (usually finish scratches in shipping) but
not many actual coffins.
We had a special extra large coffin made made for my Father. He was
6'6' and weighed about 390lbs. He was no Fatso or lardass. He was a
quite kind gentle man. He was also a war hero, a champion boxer, and a
great dad. Keep your fat jokes to yourself.
Interesting discussion. My dad has always said he just wants a "pine
box". I know there are regulations for coffins but how do you find
out? What gov't agency would handle those things?
Also, are there rules for pet coffins as well?
I don't know if there are "rules" for coffins. There are certainly rules for
dead bodies. How deaths are recorded and making sure there is no foul play.
There has been considerable publicity of the shady practices of the funeral
industry. I can not imagine anybody really objecting to any kind of decent
box and workmanship. Afterall, it is the thought that counts.
The only real problem I see is that if it is a fancy coffin, you better have
it done ahead of time.
Plans are readily available.
The specialty hardware is also available.
Mike Cole wrote:
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