Cremation Urn Boxes

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Forum topic by teejk posted 10-16-2013 01:09 AM 5738 views 4 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1215 posts in 3692 days

10-16-2013 01:09 AM

My father in law (age 85) passed last week. My mother in-law balked at the $600-800 price to buy a cremation urn box from the funeral home. So on Thursday I was asked to build one. I needed to get it to the funeral home Monday morning (not a lot of time).

That apparent flaw on the first photo is a photo flaw btw…there is no big chunk out of the top.

I was fortunate to have some rough cherry lumber so Friday I did the planning to get to the dimensions I was given and keeping in mind a 200 cubic inch inside area. Some bad things happened with my set-up on the Leigh jig for the half-blinds (my fault…too tight and I gave up on trying to tune them) so Saturday was not very productive other than getting the tops and bottoms selected, surfaced and glued-up. So it came down to a long Sunday with the clock ticking. Great attention to detail because at that point I only had no time for a “re-do” on machining the lumber. Assembly was complete at about 1pm, then Minwax cherry stain applied. After wiping I brought it into the house and let it sit for hours. At about 9pm I started applying the Johnson paste wax. It was on it’s way at 7am Monday.

I am strictly a hobbyist but for those looking for $$$ ideas or for those that know a friend/family member that is planning on cremation, here’s the project. My mother in law is also 85 and I think I’ll build another one and store it!

22 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4585 days

#1 posted 10-16-2013 01:11 AM

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3698 days

#2 posted 10-16-2013 01:58 AM

600-800 dollars is just a funeral home taking advantage of some bereaved person. That is just not right!

You did a super job. Even on short notice. And I’ll bet it means a lot more to her than the rip off version from the funeral home!

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

View PaulDoug's profile


2473 posts in 2712 days

#3 posted 10-16-2013 02:09 AM

Nice job. I’m seeing more and more urn boxes made and turned on different forums. At $600 – $800 I can certainly see why. Besides a homemade one is more personal and probably much better built than one of those expensive mass produced ones. I’d make one for myself but my wife says I am not going to be cremated.

I’m in the process of making one of my Daughter’s cat ashes as requested by her. It’s just a little one and is going to be pretty plain, but that is what she wanted. I need to make one for my wife’s first dog. Poor guy has been sitting in a ugly decorated coffee can for about 49 years now. He deserves better, he was a great dog.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3692 days

#4 posted 10-16-2013 02:19 AM

Thanks Jim. Had I had more time I would have added some type of small molding to the bottom…the upper assembly has to lift off the base to get the ashes in, thus the screws at the bottom. Nicer screws would have been nice too but Sunday I used what I had (I can swap them out with brass now…he’s in there now).

It was interesting though. The lumber was rough and I only have a Delta 6” jointer and a 13” Delta planer. The box sides are only 4” high so no problem there getting them to 1/2 thickness. The top and bottom were glue-ups of wider stuff because one thing I have learned is grain-matching is an art! I was lucky to find some nice stuff that I was able to flatten on the planer with a lot of TLC to get them to 1 1/4”. From there it was my trusty PC 690 router with more TLC (no time for a goof-up there). Of course start with the end grain so the edge cuts clean-up any chip out…several passes at 1/8” at a time.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3692 days

#5 posted 10-16-2013 02:39 AM

gfadvm…the funeral home was actually the one to ask whether she knew a woodworker. Their only requirement was that it had to be loaded from the bottom so the case sits on the base and is attached to cleats. I never made one of these things before and much of it involved thinking on the fly about the assembly. The half-blind dovetails cost me a lot of grief but for some reason I felt the need to do it. Thanks for the nice comment!

pauldoug…I’m going the cremation route (I don’t think it should hurt me). I think the casket thing with grave-site services is the worst part of somebody’s “passing”. My in-laws are devoted RC and I was actually surprised that they had both decided on the cremation route. I did cringe a bit though today when the priest hit the box with that holy water wand though (I whispered to my wife that we would have to apply another coat of wax or two…it’s been a long week for her and I was glad to make her laugh).

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30597 posts in 3346 days

#6 posted 10-16-2013 10:06 AM

Very beautiful. I have not attempted these yet, but the day is coming.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View unisaw's profile


95 posts in 5141 days

#7 posted 10-16-2013 10:20 AM

I wouldn’t be caught dead in that box!

Sorry – couldn’t resist. Nice work.

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3969 days

#8 posted 10-16-2013 10:36 AM

“600-800 dollars ”
That’s cheap. My parents were cremated and cost over $2K each for the basic service.
Nice job on the urn.

View littlecope's profile


3117 posts in 4510 days

#9 posted 10-16-2013 11:09 AM

Sorry for your Families’ loss.
Great Job on the Urn, Fast Work too!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View MisterBill's profile


411 posts in 3260 days

#10 posted 10-16-2013 11:33 AM

A co-worker recently needed a cremation urn ASAP. I wanted to make one for him but I had concerns about meeting his dead line. I started looking around on line and then I remembered that Costco sold caskets. We checked their website and to our pleasant surprise we found that they also sold wooden creamation urns for somewhere around $120. He ordered one and had it within three days. I must admit that the workmanship was very good.

View HowardInToronto's profile


77 posts in 2710 days

#11 posted 10-17-2013 02:29 AM

That’s a nice box.

Thanks for sharing the photos and the story.

It certainly is more meaningful when you consider that’ll be the last thing you can do for your father-in-law.


View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25917 posts in 4113 days

#12 posted 10-17-2013 03:22 AM

That will sure take less room that storing caskets!
Nice job on the urn. There is a market for them everywhere. I am seriously thinking about it.
I have made pet urns and they bring about $200!..................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3692 days

#13 posted 10-17-2013 12:46 PM

Thanks to all. I have to admit that I was rather proud of it given the amount of time I had and considering I was starting with rough lumber. For anybody considering it, the key is apparently 200 cubic inches of interior space which supposedly is adequate for about a 200 lb human. My wife did the research and said that was the minimum available and they went up from there. The picture has a finished size of 11.25”Wide x 8”Deep x 6.5” high. The case itself is 10.25”x7”x4” exterior (9.25×6x4 interior for 222 cu. in. but I used cleats to secure the top and bottom so I stole some of the excess). My wife said there was room to spare when they loaded it.

Seems to me that this would be one of those things that would make sense to build a few at a time. A lot of time was spent getting the proper set-up on the Leigh (half-blinds are “fussy”) but once set-up, all the tails could be milled in minutes without changing anything, then flip the jig and do the pins all at once. Same for the routing on the tops and bottoms.

View BArnold's profile


175 posts in 2841 days

#14 posted 10-17-2013 01:28 PM

Very nice work, teejk! I like everything about your urn – wood, dovetails, etc.

Coincidentally, I’m building an urn for our next-door neighbor. Her husband died in August at age 96. When I offered to build her an urn, she accepted. I’m making it with about 260ci internally, so will hold both of them in the long run. I’ll post photos of what I’m building when I get it finished.

Following along with your comment about building multiples, I’m actually making two identical urns. One is for the neighbor; the other for myself and my wife. Both are made from Honduran mahogany using some Green and Green elements. As you said, it’s way easier to make multiples while one has the tools set up for specific operations.

-- Bill, Thomasville, GA

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3692 days

#15 posted 10-17-2013 05:38 PM

Thanks Bill…I forgot to mention the terror I felt when I got to the staining part in terms of how the grain matching would come out. I did my best “guess” with the unstained wood in terms of grain matching before the glue-up but from experience I know that a piece of wood can be deceiving. Probably not the best on the base but so little of that shows that it didn’t really matter. I got lucky on the top.

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