Commisioned by family to make my Grandmothers urn

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Forum topic by JR_Dog posted 08-20-2012 02:44 PM 1277 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JR_Dog's profile


526 posts in 2927 days

08-20-2012 02:44 PM

Hi Lumber(Family)jocks,

I haven’t been on the site for a little while as I’m trying to fix up the house to sell but I thought there’s no better place to start for guidance then right here regarding an up and coming “special” project. My 90 year old Grandmother ( I can only hope to live that long ) who is still with us is getting weaker by the month so my Aunts and Uncles have come to me to build her an urn; it’s her wish to be cremated.

I have a grizzly catalog with a section for luthiers that shows 5A cat curly maple and various inlays, like mother of pearl or shell/abalone inlays, that I would like to use so having said that this is where the questions come in to play.

1. What types of wood go well with this type of curly maple? I’d like to incorporate two woods together but have only worked with: Canary, Bubinga, Hickory, Olive, and Maple.
2. Does anyone have plans or techniques for joining boxes of different types of wood and is it a good or bad idea to try and make the box with curved sides or better to just use angles?
3. If anyone has pictures of boxes, urns if possible, but even just really nice boxes with the technique and instruction and best tools to go along?
4. I have some pictures in my head, something that fits the dimensions of the package the crematory gives you and also opens from the bottom but that’s as far as I’ve gone with design.
5. Any, and I mean any, feedback/advice/guidance, from all of you is very welcome.

I won’t go too much further because I’m sure this will be a work in progress and go through many evolutions/changes as I start to build it and get feedback.

Thank you all and I’m VERY glad I have this site in my corner to take on this task.


7 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


18027 posts in 3613 days

#1 posted 08-20-2012 02:52 PM

Sorry to hear about grandma not doing so well bud. Walnut is a good accent for the curly maple in my book, but thats just one opinion. No real box building experience here but you’re gonna get plenty im sure.

Britboxmaker’s EZ miter looks like a good start, you can search for his blog.
I really like LJ Shipwirght’s wooden hinges. Theres a blog on that too.
Greg the box maker makes some really interesting boxes all though it may not suit the function.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View JR_Dog's profile


526 posts in 2927 days

#2 posted 08-20-2012 02:53 PM

Thank you Chrisstef! Hey since I haven’t been on here for a while….. are you a Daddy yet?

View chrisstef's profile


18027 posts in 3613 days

#3 posted 08-20-2012 03:09 PM

7 days brother … the anxiety is runnin awfully high right now but all is well with mom and the baby. Besides being wicked uncomfortable and slightly irritable ;) The world debut of babystef shouldnt be long.

Certainly appreciate you askin.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3892 days

#4 posted 08-20-2012 03:29 PM

JR, The most difficult project….......yet the most heart felt project you can do. I’ve can only recommend you let your heart decide on the wood and the style. Here’s a few things that inspired me:
When I was asked to do the urn for my best friend; he had a beautiful piece of Curly Maple that he had in his shop that he told me he was going to do something special with one of these days. I made his urn from that board and used some figured walnut from my shop. He left behind a wife and three teenage sons, so I built a seperate compartment so each of them could put a small momento in with him. My wife loved butterflies, so when I did hers, I did butterfly dovetails for the joints. My brother told me his wife was the reason he did everything in life, so when I did his, I did a two part urn that was connected, but could be taken apart. I told his wife that it simply represented they could be seperated, but they where perfect together. After he died, she wrote him a long letter and put that in the one section, so her feelings would always be with him. My father was a strong, simple man, so I did a strong, simple urn, in both style and woods. My mother; I used the same woods that was used when I did my father’s, but softened the style to represent her. Each time; when I went to pick out lumber, I would let my heart tell me what was the perfect lumber for theirs, the style I usually had a problem with at the beginning, but once I started, I just went with my feelings and it would always come to me. I’ve done seven urns so far and everyone has been totally different. Would I change anything about any of them? Never, because I know I gave them the best I had and it was all done with love.
I know this doesn’t help you with wood selection or style of box to build, but I know you will do a wonderful job and it will be done for all the right reasons.

-- John @

View HerbC's profile


1801 posts in 3466 days

#5 posted 08-20-2012 03:39 PM


A hard task.

A tag search on projects tagged urn shows 4 pages of projects, might help a bit.

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View JR_Dog's profile


526 posts in 2927 days

#6 posted 08-20-2012 04:09 PM


I’m not too proud to say that brought a tear, okay a few, tears to my eye. Getting responses like this truly describes what LumberJocks is all about. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me realize exactly what I needed to know/hear. It needs to come from within first and allow that to steer my woodworking. I’m honored to have started a forum post that allowed you to tell your story and through your words I’ve already started to get more ideas and confidence. Thank you!

Thank you for the link that’s very helpful.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3297 days

#7 posted 08-21-2012 03:36 AM

Huff, That advice was perfect and brought a tear to my eye as well.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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