Keepsake Urn

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Project by Andy posted 09-16-2007 09:18 PM 6733 views 46 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a keepsake urn.

A cousin of my co-worker, Lori, passed away and upon seeing her obvious pain, I volunteered to make an urn for the cremains. I dug out a special piece of figured Myrtlewood I had been saving and started working on a design. After doing research online, I found that the recommendation for the cremains, is to allow one cubic inch of space per pound of body weight, and if your not sure of the persons weight, then make the chamber 200 is the lower section under the lift out tray ) Not knowing anything about the deceased, I opted for the 200 minimum, just to be safe. I then decided to make room for photos, cards, and keepsakes. I knew that I wanted the sides and the top to be from one wide board, so this design is based on this criteria, and for visual balance as well. The sides and top are Purple Heart, the tray and slip feathers are Eastern Maple, the medallion and handle are Myrtlewood. The finish is several coats of clear Deft Lacquer satin sheen.

The following was added in response to questions by other Jocks.

Outside including lid= 11.5” w X 7.5” h X 5.5” d
Inside of chamber = 10’’ w X 5” h X 4” d = 200
I took a board and planed it to 3/4’’ thick X 7.625’’ wide X 48’’ long and cut three 1/4’’ kerfs X 14’’ deep on the inside edge using the tablesaw. The kerf for the bottom is up from the bottom 1/4’’, the middle kerf is for the tray to set on and is located 5.5’’ up from the bottom, and the kerf for the lid is 6.875” up from the bottom. Then I cut my corner miters, using stop blocks to ensure the front and back were exactly the same length and the same for the ends. I marked the board to orient the top and face, and to ensure that the grain ran around continually.
I measured and cut for the 3/16’’ ply bottom and tray bottom, and cut the lid blank to the same size. After dry fitting the box with the two ply panels inserted, I cut out the center of the tray bottom, leaving a rind of about an inch for the tray to sit on, and also is the opening to place the cremains in. Then I cut a rabbet on the edge of the lid leaving a tenon about 1/4 thick and about 3/8 long. I sanded it smooth and dry fitted it into the box, taping it all together with the two ply panels in place, making sure it fit together nicely. I then sanded all the parts smooth along with the interior and glued it all together making sure to center the lid evenly, side to side and end to end. ( if its a little loose, then tape it in position so it doesnt move while the glue is drying). After it was dry I sliced off the lid, taking into account that the lid panel sticks up a bit and still wanted to leave about a 3/4 thick edge on the lid frame. This can vary abit so just make sure you dont cut the lid off too high, a little low is better, the tray gets built last and is based on what room is left, which should be about 3/4’ to 1’’.
I used brass butt hinges but Soss barrel hinges, piano hinge works too.
The tray sets proud of the box sides and the lid slips down over it so you will need to ease the dges of both so that will happen. This helps keep a lid of this size in place. You may want to insert a couple of small magnets at the corners to pull it down tight if needed.
Finish as you like. I used Deft lacquer satin gloss.

I caution you to double check my math! Lay this out full scale on paper. I am doing this from memory since I didnt take notes and the box is in Texas and I am in Oregon.
The size can be modified and still keep a 200 space by adding to the length and shortening the height, and so on.
Make it work with the boards you have or edge glue up stock with matching grain, or you can get the width you need by adding contrast strips of wood to narrow stock.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

18 comments so far

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 5010 days

#1 posted 09-16-2007 09:33 PM

My goodness! What a beautiful box! Thanks for posting this and sharing the story. Great work with a wonderful motivation.

-- Robb

View JGardner23's profile


24 posts in 4990 days

#2 posted 09-16-2007 10:25 PM

Wow very nice i love the myrtle wood.

Just beautiful craftsmanship. i would love to the see some in progress pic’s if you have them.

-- Jason, Wood Working Has Taken Over My Life. And I Love It.

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5113 days

#3 posted 09-16-2007 10:31 PM

Amazing box!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 5350 days

#4 posted 09-16-2007 10:33 PM

That is a beautiful box and a wonderful gesture. The craftsmanship is just great..

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View bryano's profile


546 posts in 5010 days

#5 posted 09-16-2007 11:09 PM

thats a very nice box and great of you to do this for her.

-- bryano

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5039 days

#6 posted 09-16-2007 11:10 PM


This is just absolutley beautiful. It is some of the most fantastic work I’ve seen. Thank you for sharing it.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View 's profile

593 posts in 5048 days

#7 posted 09-17-2007 03:21 AM

What a nice place to be in for such a long time, Andy. Great job and beautiful figured wood.

View scopemonkey's profile


191 posts in 5240 days

#8 posted 09-17-2007 03:38 AM

This is inspiring in more ways than one. Beautiful.

-- GSY from N. Idaho

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4073 posts in 5140 days

#9 posted 09-17-2007 03:50 AM

Another top-notch box!

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

View Karson's profile


35273 posts in 5477 days

#10 posted 09-17-2007 03:56 AM

Great story and even greater box.

I wonderful gift in time of need.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5295 days

#11 posted 09-17-2007 05:02 AM

I’ve been making a box this weekend, Andy. Now, after seeing this one, I’m tempted to take a sledgehammer to mine. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5253 days

#12 posted 09-17-2007 09:19 AM

Andy, your craftsmanship is outstanding and very inspiring. This was a wonderful gesture – I’m sure that the family of the deceased with appreciate this generous gesture immensely. I don’t want this to sound trite under the circumstances, but it’s this kind of visual art that causes me to just love small wooden boxes.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 5202 days

#13 posted 09-18-2007 03:07 AM

What a great story, project & the craftsmanship! – wow! I’ve always thought I’d be cremated someday – my own box…..hmmmm, just added to my list, I like it! Thanks very much for sharing the story Andy, your co-worker is fortunate to have you as a friend!

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5113 days

#14 posted 09-19-2007 03:52 PM

Your boxes are beautiful, Andy.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4671 days

#15 posted 08-25-2008 09:40 PM

Great urn, sounds like you put a lot of time and effort into it..

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

showing 1 through 15 of 18 comments

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