Roadside Memorial Cross

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Project by Copperjock posted 08-28-2010 08:23 PM 5821 views 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I use lumberjocks for inspiration and education. After searching lumberjocks, I found only one example of a roadside cross. So I am posting this project reluctantly for the next person who considers one of these unfortunate projects.

I used a 4”x4” cedar post. The total height is 7’. With 2’ in the ground, it’s installed height is approximately 5’. The cross arm is 2’-6” long, and is placed 1’-3” down from the top. To make the points, I set the saw at 45 degrees and cut all 4 sides. The two pieces were dadoed to half the thickness to make them lock together, then glued and screws installed from the back. The name was scrolled with a template created on OpenOffice, on 1/4” walnut. Coated with pure tung oil, I’m curious how long it will last in the weather. Screwed the letters on with brass screws so it would be easy to remove and replace when necessary. The post is set in concrete. The cross seemed quite tall at home, but after installed and seeing the weeds around it, it fits into its surroundings very well.

The ratios I used were found at

The details:
In Dec. ‘09, my stepson and his family were traveling from Colorado to Oklahoma for the holidays. In Kansas on I-70, a woman was traveling westbound and crossed an icy bridge, lost control and swerved into eastbound traffic, hitting my stepson’s minivan head on. There were four survivors in the car, but we lost Ethan. He was almost four years old. I contacted the Kansas DOT shortly afterward and spoke with the engineer responsible for that area, and he said a cross was fine, as long as it was up against the fence and did not interfere with mowing.

BTW, if you happen to pass through Goodland, KS (mile marker 21) and see it in disrepair, please take a photo and let me know so I can take care of it. I am 7 hours away and don’t travel that way often. Thank you.

-- All the test cuts in the world won't stop you from cutting the outside when you meant to cut the inside. doh!

14 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5549 days

#1 posted 08-28-2010 08:33 PM

A very nice memorial. I’m so sorry for your tragic loss.

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

View TZH's profile


638 posts in 4471 days

#2 posted 08-28-2010 09:11 PM

I want to echo CharlieM1958’s sentiments. A very fitting tribute to a young life so tragically cut short. I know how difficult it can be to share something like this (I got emotional again just reading the story), so thank you, thank you, thank you.


-- Where The Spirit In Wood Lives On

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 4622 days

#3 posted 08-28-2010 10:13 PM

We’ve got a lot of those in New Mexico (maybe that’s something we shouldn’t be proud of). They’re called “descansos” here.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4405 days

#4 posted 08-28-2010 10:37 PM

Sadly, a friend asked me to make one of these crosses for his son who died in a terrible accident. The cross I made was more modest and did not include the boy’s name. Still, my friend was very pleased to have the site of his son’s tragic accident noted in this way.

As an FYI, Jacob was 15 years old and he had a student permit to drive to and from school along a prescribed route. He crossed the center line on a curve and hit a truck head-on. Very, very sad.

Please accept my condolences on your loss.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View WoodenFrog's profile


2737 posts in 4244 days

#5 posted 08-28-2010 11:40 PM

Very Nice Memorial. So sorry for your loss.
I lost one of my sons to a tragic and stupid accident in 2007 Easter Sunday.
He was at a friend of his` house and his friend was playing with a gun and shot and killed him.
He was just 17 and a good boy.
I feel for you and your family, this is a sad but nice way to honor your loved one.
Thank you for sharing this touching story.

-- Robert B. Sabina, Ohio.....

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 4211 days

#6 posted 08-29-2010 12:03 AM

What a nice gift/memorial.

A few years ago here in Colorado the Oh-So-Wise-Ones in State government decided it was a good idea to ‘clean up’ the unsightly roadside memorials folks left to honor the dead. Apparently, the DOT needed something to occupy their time? That ‘decision’ caused such a fire-storm of protest from the populace they soon thought better of it and changed their minds (See? The people can cause change!).

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 4171 days

#7 posted 08-29-2010 01:14 AM

So sad i have no words

god bless

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


23257 posts in 5006 days

#8 posted 08-29-2010 01:46 AM

Sorry for your loss of Ethan at such a young age. God needed him for a good reason.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 4437 days

#9 posted 08-29-2010 01:54 AM

I’m so sorry for your loss. But our creator has provided the resurrection for just such occasions. In time we will be with our loved ones again. All our love to you and your family, Rand

View MRue's profile


53 posts in 4157 days

#10 posted 08-30-2010 05:51 PM

It is of course tragic beyond words to lose a loved one in a traffic accident. My condolences.

But as a defender of our constitution, I find it highly inappropriate to place private religous memorials on public property. This would be a wonderful addition to a cemetery, church, or on your private property, but public sponsorship of a specific religion is no more consitutionally appropriate than having your public school lead a Christian prayer (or Muslim prayer, or Hindu prayer, )

People, often with good intentions, do not realize that Christianity is far from universal. I am a defender of religious freedoms, however, when the state funds, sponsors, supports or encourages religion, then the religious rights of EVERYONE is negatively affected


View JerBear's profile


22 posts in 4765 days

#11 posted 08-30-2010 11:08 PM

So very sorry for your loss. Finely done memorial.

View Copperjock's profile


130 posts in 5129 days

#12 posted 08-31-2010 02:18 AM

Thanks for the kind words. As I mentioned in the description, I only posted this project for the educational and inspirational reasons because there was a distinct shortage of examples for me to use when I started it.

On the political front, as a veteran, I also firmly believe in the freedom of religion (and speech). (FYI, including the right to build a mosque on your own property. But it may get burned down in lower Manhattan.) In the case of roadside memorials, I agree, it is public property, but if you came up on a curve and saw twenty memorials along the roadside, would you slow down? I sure would. If it was some other, generic, non-denominational shape would that be acceptable? Is your political argument with the memorial, or it’s shape? If you would like to place a buddha, or a star of David, a Pagan star, or a plain ol’ headstone alongside my roadside cross, I encourage you to do so. I am fully accepting of all religions. I am not looking to convert anyone. As a matter of fact, I am quite surprised the number of folks looking to “convert” Christians of one church to become Christians of another church.

-- All the test cuts in the world won't stop you from cutting the outside when you meant to cut the inside. doh!

View scottie's profile


30 posts in 4174 days

#13 posted 08-31-2010 04:41 PM

I pass by entirely too many of these during the course of a day in my travelling job sadly…knowing the pain left behind. Not once have I ever dwelled on the constitutional aspect of it, nor will I. Nor do I wander the net looking for reasons to jump in and troll my beliefs on anyone else. I look at the memorial (and I have seen many variations represented) and I say a little “prayer” or give up a moment of compassion for the loved ones in whatever format I choose or believe. And yes, I hope it makes everyone look at their speed and consider for a mere moment how life can change in an instant. On my local highways, it’s become more of a competetive race to an invisible finish line and a sad routine of road rage. That worries me far more for my childrens sake than any religious faction forcing their beliefs on anyone. If secure in your OWN beliefs, this is a nonissue.
Very sorry for your loss and I think it’s a good addition to the site. There will be people who find your directions and thank you silently. Well done.

-- ~the kids are off to college...time for Mom's new hobby~

View mudflap4869's profile


2130 posts in 2790 days

#14 posted 10-12-2014 02:05 PM

The roadside crosses are not public sponsored. They are respected by the majority of the public but there are always those who will seek out opportunities to condemn any religious symbol regardless of sect. The state does not in any manner sponsor these memorials, but does rightly allow the public to express their grief, love and their hope for those that have been lost.
I spent more than 23 years in uniform protecting the constitution that insures the right of every citizen to worship and erect symbols of that belief as they wish. I am 100% in disagreement with the teachings of many sects, but I and millions of others have shed our blood to secure that right for them. I doubt that any person who has truly defended the constitution would fail to stand and defend it again, even if it is to protect those who would destroy it out of ignorance and bigotry.
Copperjock, I stand behind you sir. 4 years late but here now.

-- Still trying to master kindling making

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