Christy's Casket

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Project by Phil Brown posted 04-17-2007 06:05 AM 6188 views 4 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A year ago I went to see a mentor in the antiques business about building reproduction antiques as a fulltime venture. I had quit twenty years in the trucking industry to be the traffic and crating manager for a manufacturer in my small town. I loved being close to home and doing my woodwork, art and custom motorcycle painting without having to be six hundred miles away the next day. Four years later they were bought out and dissolved. I ran out my severance and pension money and made application to a business program.

My mentor was in the process of researching plans to build his own casket, having prostate cancer, and being eccentric was going to store it above the log rafters in his den for a converstaion piece until he needed it. At first I didn’t find it interesting when he told me that I should apply my skills to create signature caskets.

The employment agency wouldn’t hear of a casket business plan, handed me my resume and told me to go back to trucking. I did get in the program with a business plan for reproduction antiques and custom cabinetry, and hung my shingle out. It was tough going and although I liked what I was doing, something seemed to be missing. The casket idea wouldn’t go away.

After watching the football movie “Facing the Giants” where a coach was encouraged to bloom where he was planted although his success rate was dismal, I decided to build a casket before my stipend ran out and I was truly on my own. He was encouraged to believe that the door was still open for him to succeed by an old man reading a Bible verse to him about the door that God opens no man can shut. I said to my wife that I was going to build a casket before my benefit ran out in a month, just in case I had to take a fulltime job again and didn’t get the opportunity to take a step of faith that the door was still open to build signature caskets.

Just a day later, no kidding, the phone rang. 3000 miles away in Vancouver, my dear friend Christy was given 3 weeks to 3 months to live and her husband Wayne wanted me to build her casket. They took me in 14 years ago during a difficult time in my life and we have remained close ever since.

Literally, there is blood sweat and tears in this project, and I felt guided through the unknown of never having made a casket before. Interestingly when I went to get the material to upholster the interior, the store was in the process of relocating and was packing up. I purchased a roll of light purple satin with embossed flowers that I knew were Christy’s colors. There was the exact amount left on the roll to upholster the casket almost to a thread.

One of the concerns my friends had was the expression of Christy’s faith which I was able to put in paint and verse on a removeable lid which will be set on an easel behind the casket. The lid is fastenened with 6 cabinet door knobs drilled and tapped to thread into 1/4” inserts set into the casket. The panels are faux finished with a wine color mixed with white to get the mauve effect and the top rails and molding are trimmed in layers of see- through gold over the faux colors

I sweated bullets waiting for good news that the crate had arrived safely in Vancouver, which it did, thank God. During its journey Christy had to go back into the hospital, but she had the opportunity to see the pictures I had emailed and was so thankful when I called her room. She’s still here but looking forward to going home to be with Jesus.

As stressfull as it was, because of time considerations, the project was a privelege and an honour. It changed me. I also got a kick out of people hearing about me building a casket and showing up at the door to check it out. Some would hang by the door, hesitant, and some would rush right in to get a closer look.

My mentor who suggested I take up casket making was off on a missions trip to Ethiopia and didn’t get to see the finished product before it left. I plan on starting a biker casket next, and as I have done murals on Harleys am hoping to do a full length mural on such a project. Maybe I’ll do a picture of Christ’s passion like I did on a ‘74 Harley called “Old Slappy” for Larry a Christian biker friend of mine. There’s 12 coats of clear covering the tank mural and people walk up to it and rub their hands over it, but that’s another story.

I’d like to thank Mark DeCou whom I’ve had the privilege to correspond with, who is also building a casket for a loved one. Mark encouraged me to join LumberJocks and post this story.

-- Phil Brown, Ontario

28 comments so far

View woodspar's profile


710 posts in 5155 days

#1 posted 04-17-2007 06:48 AM

A moving story. Thank you for sharing it.

-- John

View gizmodyne's profile


1785 posts in 5145 days

#2 posted 04-17-2007 06:56 AM

Beautiful painting. I am fascinated with casket building. This must have been hard to build.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View dbkmd's profile


35 posts in 5133 days

#3 posted 04-17-2007 10:12 AM

Wow! I’m not sure which I like better – the casket or the story! Simply beautiful – and inspiring. Thank you.


-- David

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4073 posts in 5119 days

#4 posted 04-17-2007 10:42 AM

Thanks for sharing your fine work.
I am rooting for your success in commercial woodworking. It takes guts to hang it all out there, as you have; and with the painting and construction skills you exhibit, I hope the world beats a path to your door.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5216 days

#5 posted 04-17-2007 11:09 AM

the door was open and everything was being put in place for you to do this. Fascinating!!

Beautiful tribute. Beautiful.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Greg3G's profile


815 posts in 5141 days

#6 posted 04-17-2007 02:33 PM

Beautiful work and a moving story. If you want to make this a business, I would contact the local Hospice chapter. My Grandfather spent a long time in their care and they were so helpful to both him and rest of the family. A lot of people entering the program have the time to tell you what they are looking for in a casket and may have the opportunity to see the end product before they go. I know this was a comfort for my Grandfather. You are blessed to have the skill you do, don’t waste them behind the wheel of a truck.

-- Greg - Charles Town, WV

View PanamaJack's profile


4483 posts in 5133 days

#7 posted 04-17-2007 03:27 PM

Awsome and beautiful art and craftsmanship. Beautiful story about a great friend.

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5461 days

#8 posted 04-17-2007 03:35 PM

Wonderful work Phil. I’m glad you joined up here at lumberjocks. I am confident that you will find helpful information, comraderie, encouragement, and marketing assistance with heading the directions you want to go. Painting at the level you are able to do and combining it with excellent woodworking is a real unique thing, and the more people see this combined ability, the more you will be asked to perform it.

love your work, glad you are here.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5292 days

#9 posted 04-17-2007 03:53 PM

Great Movie, Great Story and Beautiful Casket.

Funny thing… God can use just about anything to get us to do what it is he wants us to do. to hone our skills and as the Psalmist said… “Delight thyself also in the Lord and HE will give you the desires of your heart”. Psalm 37:4

View Phil Brown's profile

Phil Brown

219 posts in 5113 days

#10 posted 04-17-2007 04:01 PM

Thanks everyone for the wonderful and warm encouragement about Christy’s casket. I was in tears reading them to my wife. Thanks again. I’ll post a picture of my friend Christy with another project.

-- Phil Brown, Ontario

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5370 days

#11 posted 04-17-2007 04:32 PM

You have used the gifts God has given you very well. Thank you for sharing.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5355 days

#12 posted 04-17-2007 04:38 PM

A very touching story, & a beautiful work of art.
And Welcome to Lumberjocks.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5302 days

#13 posted 04-17-2007 07:06 PM

welcome to Lumberjocks and thanks for the inspiring story. God Bless. jockmike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1819 posts in 5142 days

#14 posted 04-17-2007 07:39 PM

An extraordinary tribute. It must have been difficult to work on

Follow your heart.

-- Bob

View David's profile


1969 posts in 5194 days

#15 posted 04-17-2007 08:45 PM

Phil – very moving and motivated story. Wonderful work. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful project.


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