Wood for under ground?

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Forum topic by jbmaine posted 04-05-2020 11:32 AM 513 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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152 posts in 436 days

04-05-2020 11:32 AM

We were recently hit with some really bad news, my mom passed away. I want to build a wooden box , urn, for both my moms and dads ashes ( he passed some years ago) and intur then in the family plot some time this summer. I am thinking white oak, but would like your thoughts on types of wood suitable for being under ground? Thanks, Jim

11 replies so far

View americancanuck's profile


461 posts in 3576 days

#1 posted 04-05-2020 12:09 PM

Any and all wood will eventually rot if buried. The process will be slowed if put into a cement container. I would simply choose a wood that you know you parents liked the look of and leave it at that. Good luck to you this is always a difficult project to undertake.

-- Retired and lovin it

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2122 posts in 1943 days

#2 posted 04-05-2020 12:35 PM

Black locust

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6720 posts in 3460 days

#3 posted 04-05-2020 12:43 PM

Black locust is considered one of the most rot resistant woods grown in North America. Even so, I wouldn’t expect it to last forever….so the advice about choosing a wood your parents would like is probably as good as any you’ll get. Condolences on your loss.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View PBWilson1970's profile


164 posts in 360 days

#4 posted 04-05-2020 01:54 PM

I’d also recommend Black Locust.

The house I bought nearly a decade ago is surrounded by these trees and the previous owners had a smallish and neglected wood pile on the edge of the property. Most was Black Locust but there was some Maple and a bit of Cherry in there too. It was all in contact with the ground and leaves and brush had piled up on it and stayed there for years.

In a fit of spring cleaning last year, I decided to get rid of the eyesore and I was amazed to see the difference between the different species. Cherry rotted away with bug activity. Some looked like cool honeycomb structures. The Maple did ok, but was punky in some logs and some were the consistency of cork.

The Black Locust heartwood was amazingly untouched in many, many samples. The bark and sapwood fell away, but the inside was still bright yellow and solid and as hard as heck. It made me really take notice of this species. I mention the heartwood vs. the sapwood because it was night and day in weather resistance. If you do use Black Locust, pay attention to the pieces or sections you might get and steer clear of the heartwood. It finally dawned on me why smaller branches that fall throughout the year rot away quickly. They’re mostly sapwood and bark. It takes a few years to make the change into the tough stuff.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View Lazyman's profile


6300 posts in 2354 days

#5 posted 04-05-2020 05:27 PM

So sorry for your loss, Jim. Look for woods that have traditionally been used for fence posts—black locust, osage orange, bald cypress and junipers to name a few. As mentioned above , you want heart wood on any of them. On the other hand, one of the reasons for a wood urn instead of stone or metal is that it does not last a long time in the ground. My parents both wanted wood coffins when they passed away specifically because they liked the idea of being recycled back into the earth and eventually back into other living things. My thoughts run along the same lines and if I ever make an urn, making it will express my feelings about them and I will look forward to it being passed along with my loved one to live again in other things.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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351 posts in 2814 days

#6 posted 04-05-2020 05:58 PM

Sorry to hear of your loss Jim, I still miss my parents. As to your question, I’d opt for eastern red cedar heart wood. It falls between honey locust and osage orange for ground rot without any added protection, and will look and smell good, when you get it done.

View jbmaine's profile


152 posts in 436 days

#7 posted 04-05-2020 08:53 PM

Thanks for the kind thoughts and advise everyone. I’ll make some calls tomorrow to see if anyone carries black locust locally.

View AndyJ1s's profile


485 posts in 722 days

#8 posted 04-05-2020 09:11 PM

Per wikipedia:

Maclura pomifera has been known by a variety of common names in addition to Osage orange, including hedge apple, horse apple, bois d’arc, bodark, monkey ball, monkey brains, bow-wood, yellow-wood and mock orange.

-- Andy - Arlington TX

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485 posts in 722 days

#9 posted 04-05-2020 09:18 PM

A good friend of mine made a long bow from Osage orange a long time ago. Still uses it hunting. He took a class to learn how to do it. They take a piece of long bow down to a growth ring for its entire length, and that becomes the front side. They then taper the back side (cutting through growth rings) for the rigidity they need, testing for symmetry between top and bottom of bow constantly.

-- Andy - Arlington TX

View WoodenDreams's profile


1218 posts in 877 days

#10 posted 04-05-2020 09:28 PM

Wooden Urns can be made with any wood you wish. If the final resting place will be a cemetary. Cemeteries normal policy is to have urns put in a vault. A burial vault is normally concrete. Most cremation remains are in a plastic bag, and the plastic bag is put in the wooden urn.

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6965 posts in 1541 days

#11 posted 04-06-2020 05:40 AM

Sounds like you are sorted out about rot underground, and Locust as a long lasting wood for ground contact. They make fence post from it.

Just wanted to say, Condolences on your Moms passing.

-- Think safe, be safe

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