How to Build a Wood Coffin

Written by kenneth w. michael wills
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How to Build a Wood Coffin
You can build a customised coffin. (coffin pillbox image by Lytse from

You can build a wood coffin yourself (or hire a carpenter) --- it's actually quite simple. Aside from saving quite a bit of cash, building a wood coffin provides the opportunity to ponder and observe the life of a loved one, evoking reminiscence of joy at a time when sorrow prevails. The best coffins represent jubilant commemorations in wood. Those in possession of advanced woodworking skills may opt to construct a coffin from solid wood. However, if you lack such skills or the required tools to construct a solid wood coffin, then hardwood veneer plywood is the way to go. There's nothing quite like building a coffin to serve as a potent reminder of the mortal self.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Adhesive tape
  • Shelf paper
  • Pencil
  • T-square
  • 3 sheets of hardwood veneer plywood
  • Circular saw
  • Wood glue
  • 0.227kg. wood screws, 1 5/8-inch
  • 2 piano hinges
  • Sand paper
  • Wood stain

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  1. 1

    Use a measuring tape to take accurate measurements of the person for whom you are building the coffin. Ascertain the length and shoulder width of the deceased, as well as their foot size, to determine the height and depth of the wood coffin. Keep in mind that the feet will protrude straight up when the body is laid in the coffin due to rigor mortis.

  2. 2

    Tape together your shelf paper to allow enough room to use a pencil to sketch an outline to size for your coffin. Use a T-square to sketch your lines to produce the exact angles and dimensions. Connect all lines together to create the sides of the coffin.

  3. 3

    Sketch out the lid and base as separate templates using the same tools and materials as in step two.

  4. 4

    Lay out the hardwood veneer plywood. Measure and cut out the coffin's lid and base with the circular saw, according to the dimensions and angle specifications from the template drawn in step three, from one of the sheets of plywood. To save time and produce precise cuts, saw out the lid and base concurrently using two sheets of plywood.

  5. 5

    Measure and cut out the walls of the wood coffin from the remaining sheet of plywood.

  6. 6

    Connect all the side pieces of the coffin to the base with wood glue, then use the wood screws to secure them.

  7. 7

    Place the lid of the coffin on top and proceed to screw the hinges to the top and side of the wood coffin.

  8. 8

    Sand down the coffin with your sanding paper and add your capstone details to enhance the design of the coffin, or simply varnish with the wood stain. You may also opt to paint the coffin.

Tips and warnings

  • Building a coffin does not have to be a sombre experience. This is a great project for Halloween as well and likely will be the focal point of the party.
  • Always wear the appropriate safety equipment when working with wood. Wear safety goggles at all times and don a face mask to prevent breathing in chemicals and wood dust.

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