DIY Coffin and Edge-Glued Panels

Edge-glued panels


DIY coffin enthusiasts: here’s news from the industrial woodworking complex: Edge-glued panels. Read on below for the details.

For new readers, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins, and we help families hold more affordable funerals — naturally. We make and sell pine coffins (using hand tools only!) and we also offer a set of DIY coffin plans — made of plywood. We describe our off-grid workshop as a “cottage industrial complex.”

But now this: edge-glued panels! A quick trip to NC’s own Lowes Hardware — a fine representation of the factory industrial woodworking complex if ever there was one — brings solutions for anyone who wants to follow our (or your own) DIY coffin plans.

The hardest part of a DIY coffin is making panels tall enough for the sides and ends. (It’s hard to find lumber wider than 10″ or 12″, and you need about 15″ or 16″.) Plywood suits, and that’s what our plans specify.

Here’s the update: Lowes will sell you, for about $30, ready-made pine panels — called edge-glued panels — that are perfect for the sides and ends of a DIY coffin. You could easily subsitute them for the plywood in our plans. Plus, the pine panels look nicer.

Edge + glue = edge-glued panels

Edge-glued refers to the way the factory takes many small pieces of wood and glues the flat edges together to make one large panel that looks like a quilt or a puzzle. For a DIY coffin, look for the ones that are 16″ x 96″.

There are two quality grades, stain grade (about $30) and paint grade (about $20). The latter is made of scraps of rough-looking wood, but that’s okay because presumably you’ll end up painting over it. The stain grade is made from nice pieces whose grain you won’t be embarrassed showing through when you stain it “golden oak” or “black cherry” or some other such color.

If you like what you’re hearing, now keep going and figure out how to craft a lid and a body board from the same edge-glued panels. I bet you can. Myself, I might still use plywood for the body board, then make the lid from stain-grade edge-glued.

Remember, for home funerals one good rule is “Laugh, Cry, and DIY!” Taking charge of the coffin-building is a satisfying step in laying to rest and grieving a loved one.