Pine box coffin style: hexagonal toe-pincher on the way

"Sinker" wood, reclaimed from the river

“Sinker” cypress being reclaimed from the river

This past weekend I visited Mark Patterson’s mill (919-498-4506) in Sanford, NC, just 20 miles to the south of Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial home of Piedmont Pine Coffins. It was an education.

Mark has all these giant logs sitting around, 2 to 3 feet in diameter. He specializes in sawing lumber reclaimed from river bottoms, as seen in the photo to the left cribbed from These are trees that sank 100 years ago, monster trees of yore that you couldn’t find these days if you tried. Some of the cypress was, they say, already 1500 years old when it was cut in the late 1800s!

If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “They didn’t just rot?” Apparently not. Mark and other sawyers can ask premium prices for the heartwood of reclaimed lumber, which is so tight of grain and so full of anti-rot oily sap, it comes to us fresh as the day it was timbered.

A big thank-you to Mark, who has taken an interest in the Piedmont Pine Coffins enterprise and will be selling me some flat, straight, wide boards of pine and cypress. He also gave me some great box construction options that I plan to use, among other things, to develop a hexagonal toe-pincher style coffin for sale in the near future.