Pine coffins and skunk cycles of life and death

Message to skunks:  Safe passage on the roads. Mid-February is breeding season for skunks, and you are reminded of that every year because the poor polecats start showing up dead on the roads around here. Starting in late January, they crisscross country lanes looking to make family connections, and some of them meet their maker […]

Grave digging DIY

Grave digging DIY: Yes, you can. Recently a family nearby bought a coffin from us and buried on their own land. Here’s how they prepared the gravesite. For readers just joining in, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins in North Carolina, USA. We spread the news about natural burial, and we make pine box coffins with only […]

We get to carry each other

A recent sale of $5 coffin plans to one Ann-Marie in NC got me going on “get to.” Read on, I’ll ‘splain. For the many of you just joining (thanks!), we are Piedmont Pine Coffins, and we spread the gospel of green burial. Also, we like the kind of thing that Ann-Marie and her family just did. She bought […]

The Eagles!

Just in time for July 4th, here’s a post about Eagles. Not the Hotel California Eagles, but Gandalf’s Eagles and our eagles at Piedmont Pine Coffins. If you’ve ever read J.R.R. Tolkien or seen the movies based on his Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books, you know that giant eagles are his deus ex machina. Sort of. Or at least, […]

A coffin-joiner’s prayer

A coffin-joiner’s prayer O length of plank, be straight and true And form thyself to something worth An unrepeatable life on this magnificent Earth We have been making a lot of coffins lately here at Piedmont Pine Coffins. It takes about 12 hours to make one, so there be time to think. Though each box will go […]

DIY coffin exemplar

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 […]

What a good death is

A good death, I told a recent client. Your mom died a good death. “Yes, I think so. Thank you,” she said. Death is having a moment in popular culture. (To be clear, death is always having its moment, isn’t it, just not always as a media darling.) So what’s a good death, and is […]

Hand cut dovetails

Here’s the hand cut dovetails update from Piedmont Pine Coffins. We are now making our urns, all-wood coffins, and pet caskets with hand cut dovetails. It’s a distinctive and high-quality design delivered for the same price. I always intend, when I start a day in the workshop, to make something worthy of a particular and unrepeatable […]

I see dead people

I see dead people in the Piedmont Pine Coffins workshop. Their tools, anyway. It’s an honor, and fitting really, that I should make coffins with the weathered and worn tools of dead woodworkers, those artisanal all-stars of a past age. May the expertise of their ghostly hands guide me as I strive to craft something worthy. That’s my intent […]

Why use pine, plus bonus ruminations

Why use pine, in seven reasons, as follows. Most are poetical, as you’ll see. First is for green burial: Pine degrades quickly in contact with earth and water. This trait is great for ashes-to-ashes, dust-to-dust. The second is for business. Pine is not expensive. The last five – the five senses of taste and touch, etc. – […]

Aiken Mason makes own funeral plans

Making your own funeral plans takes some guts. Or, in the case of Danny, a 32nd degree Mason from Lodge 156 in Aiken, SC, just foresight and a sense of humor will do. “I don’t want to sound morbid,” Danny tells me. “But I’m the last of my line, and if I don’t make funeral plans for […]

Life, a romantic poem

This poem of a young mother’s delight at her baby girl’s beauty comes from the 1920s. What romanticism: Lord Byron done proud! The author is Susannah Brooks Overton, and her daughter, the little girl of the lyrics, is Sarah Frances Overton Partridge. Sarah died in April this year. Her family printed this poem in the bulletin for the memorial service. Thanks […]

Cool Spring Natural Cemetery

At a monastery in Virginia, death is like a cool spring: the Cool Spring Natural Cemetery at Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville. Piedmont Pine Coffins and its cottage industrial home, Melleray Farmstead, proclaim to take inspiration, in part, from monks and monasteries. And it’s true! The retreats and visits I’ve made during the course of […]

Pine coffin party planned

Hand tool pro and Popular Woodworking editor Christopher Schwarz is planning a party to build his own coffin. Foresightful of him! He wrote a blog post about it recently. Word on the street is that they’ll use kerf-bending to make the sides of the coffin. Here at Piedmont Pine Coffins, we plan to develop a […]

It’s illegal, plus other green burial myths

Interested in a simple pine box coffin? It’s illegal, goes one of the top green burial myths. Who wants to be a scofflaw for all eternity? So we better look into this and find out. For those readers just joining in, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. At our cottage industrial home, the off-grid Melleray Farmstead […]