Hand cut dovetails

Hand Cut Dovetails

Interlocking “dovetail” joint

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 life on this Earth. Hand cut dovetails are a joiner’s gesture, you might say, towards this intention.

Dovetails are the gold standard for crafting the corners of a box: durable, strong, and good-looking. Dovetails that are cut by hand (as opposed to those made with machines like routers and jigs) take time and special patience for the joiner, too. If a coffin takes 12 hours to make, 6 of those are in getting the hand cut dovetails right. Wracked nerves and concentration like a Buddha pay off hours later in a big reveal, the moment where you set the joints together and see: Do they fit?

hand cut dovetails

Cremation urn or “ash coffin”

Our cremation urns or “ash coffins” as seen at right are small enough — easy to work on a standard height bench — but it took a country minute to figure out how to cut joints at the edge of a plank that’s six or seven feet in the air. Holding the wood steady with clamps and vises is half the trick in joinery. What vise exists — in a cottage industrial workshop, anyway — that can steady a board four feet above your workbench?

We solved the issue with a wooden frame that connects to our workbench vises and transfers the clamping force up in the air where you need it. Visit the workshop and I’ll be happy to show you the necessity-inspired ingenuity of it all.

We sell our all-wood coffins with dovetail corners for $1800. (There is always tax, and there’s a delivery charge except to Chatham and contiguous NC counties.) We also sell a coffin that is joined with metal screws for $1200. You can order these by calling 919-357-1166 (or email info @ PiedmontPineCoffins.com).