DIY coffin exemplar

diy coffin

The door to eternity

This DIY coffin will open your heart. Here’s the story.

Recently a certain Mark in VA wrote me in extremis. A family member was near death, and though they’d already planned for a simple ceremony with unique touches, it was all happening too fast. Could I bring a coffin tomorrow?

Shortly thereafter hospice arrived at the home, checked vitals, and brought relief. Death was not, after all, imminent. Mark and his family had time — precious, precious time. The DIY coffin at left is one of the things they did with that extra time. Click on the photo for a larger image.

Mark ended up making the casket himself, a DIY coffin for the ages with the moving detail of a pine door — knob included! — for the lid.

DIY coffin: Passing over a threshold

It was very much our desire, Mark told me, to make everything about her funeral and burial very intimate and personal.  It had been my ambition to build her coffin; I just didn’t know if I would have enough time to do it.  We made the top out of a pine door and each member of my family decorated it with something reminiscent of our relationship with her.  We made it a door as a reminder to us all that death is a door; that her life is not ended, but that she has passed over a threshold we will all someday traverse, and that in her case, she passed from death to life into the arms of her savior.  It is not true for everyone, but in her case, she truly did “enter through the narrow gate.”

Those of you who want to build a DIY coffin might be interested in some other construction details of Mark’s coffin. The side panels are solid edge-glued boards. The bottom is a strong construction of seven or so short lengths of 1’x10’s cut so they run perpendicular to the length of the coffin. As Mark attached them to the bottom, he used long pipe clamps to keep each piece snug to the preceding one.

Many thanks to Mark for sharing this image and his family story.

If these words inspire you in the direction of a DIY coffin and a DIY home funeral, there are resources around to help you. Here is my version of the DIY coffin plan (a plywood plan), and here are websites for the National Home Funeral Alliance and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.