Casket for Ashes

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Project by Dave Rutan posted 07-06-2014 07:44 PM 2148 views 3 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

[Legebla ankaĆ­ en Esperanto]

This is a casket I made for the ashes of a woman in our church. She what I call a church widow as she had no family at all other than the members in our church. I spent some time over the last nine months taking her back and forth to doctors appointments and to chemo treatments as she was too weak to drive herself. She was also having difficulty understanding all the medical mumbo-jumbo (on top of which she had been rendered mostly deaf from the chemo.)

She had prepaid for her cremation, but I know that they would be delivered in a plastic bag in a plastic or cardboard box. So I asked my pastor if I could build her a casket. I had a few drawer fronts that I discovered were made of something that looks like walnut. I know she would appreciate the idea of recycling and of using found wood.

Going on her approximate weight, plus the rule of thumb that one pound of body weight yields a cubic inch of ash, I figured out the required volume of the box and built out from there. I used my router table to mill the edges of the top and bottom so that it would look like something more than just a box. The handles are two drawer pulls from our kitchen cabinets from before we re-did our kitchen. They are metal with ceramic handles. The finish is several coats of spray lacquer. The top is glued onto the box while the bottom attaches with screws. The engraving I did by hand using a dremel and a printed template. The Psalm is in German because that’s where she was born and it was her primary language for a good part of her life. [EDIT] I highlighted the inscription by painting it gold, then sanding off the surface coat of paint, leaving paint only in the inscription.

Psalm 84:4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, they praise thee forever!

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

13 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile


2955 posts in 2959 days

#1 posted 07-06-2014 08:07 PM

Very nice gesture Dave, job well done. I’m sure she knows & appreciates your efforts on her behalf. Very thoughtful.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dan Hux's profile

Dan Hux

577 posts in 4143 days

#2 posted 07-06-2014 10:32 PM

Well done sir, well done

-- Dan Hux,,,,Raleigh, NC

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1942 posts in 2957 days

#3 posted 07-06-2014 11:35 PM

Thanks guys.

Since it’s now fashionable to aire one’s mistakes, my joinery isn’t quite up to snuff. My miters at the corners didn’t match well, 3 of the 4 anyway, so I did something odd. I turned my spline jig sideways and cut a kerf along all the corners and put a verticle spline in to make it look tight. It almost looks like a feature, though I used the same walnut instead of something contrasting.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View rtbrmb's profile


727 posts in 3157 days

#4 posted 07-07-2014 01:13 AM

Dave-how very thoughtful of you. It is a great gesture & very clever fix on the corners – I had to go back & look a second time.

Thanks for sharing.

Bill in MI

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1942 posts in 2957 days

#5 posted 07-07-2014 01:25 AM

rtbrmb, It’s said that we learn more from fixing our mistakes. Sometimes I think I’m really getting there.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View CFrye's profile


11003 posts in 2608 days

#6 posted 07-07-2014 04:57 AM

Nicely done, Dave. God bless you, sir.

-- God bless, Candy

View Richard's profile


1938 posts in 3459 days

#7 posted 07-07-2014 07:38 PM

Dave , that was a Very Nice thing for you to do for her. And as for the mistakes , they arent Mistakes if you can fix them.

View changeoffocus's profile


467 posts in 2386 days

#8 posted 07-07-2014 07:47 PM

The time you spent helping this lady while she was alive was the real gift, any mistakes you feel you made in your workmanship will pale by comparison.

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1942 posts in 2957 days

#9 posted 07-07-2014 08:56 PM

Thank you all for your kind words.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Sawdustmaker115's profile


306 posts in 2490 days

#10 posted 07-11-2014 05:02 AM

Hey, Bud

That Looks really Nice! Good job! The engraving is very well done, i know the engraving can be very tedious to do, i just finished a box for my cousins wedding and i also did engraving with a dremel.

P.S. I’ve been meaning to add my comment on this but I’ve really busy in the shop.

-- Anthony--

View Joni Hamari's profile

Joni Hamari

76 posts in 4460 days

#11 posted 07-11-2014 05:57 AM

Beautiful, I just recently completed a similar project, and appreciate what you’ve put into this one!

-- Joni Hamari,

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3572 days

#12 posted 09-06-2015 12:40 PM

Nicely done. What are the dimensions.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1942 posts in 2957 days

#13 posted 09-06-2015 04:53 PM

Nicely done. What are the dimensions.

- Roger

Hmm. I didn’t save the scrap of paper I used to hold the dimensions, but I distinctively remember the inside as being about 5×4 x 7 inches, so the outside would be about 6.5×8.5×5.5 in. figuring the wood was just under 3/4 inch thick.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

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