Aside from being tragic occasions, funerals can also be very expensive. If you're looking to defray the costs of a funeral and bring a personal touch, consider making a homemade casket for yourself or your loved one. With the right materials and a little patience, you can create a beautiful, personalized and inexpensive final resting place. Make sure you check your local laws and regulations about caskets before beginning this project.
There are many materials you could use for your casket, but the easiest and most durable is hardwood veneered plywood. Using this type of wood eliminates the need for operations like milling and edge gluing, which require significantly more sophisticated tools.
Choose between the many species of veneered plywood offered at your local lumber supplier, which may include oak, ash, cherry, maple or birch. Also buy matching veneer edging tape. This comes in rolls that must be cut to length and then glued on.
You'll also need a circular saw (or ideally a table saw), plug-covered screws for the corner joinery, six metal handles and a wood-finishing product.
Get precise measurements and build the coffin accordingly. Make the width about 4 inches wider than the deceased's shoulder span and about 5 inches longer than his standing height.
Make a few practice cuts with your saw before beginning the project. Then draw the measurements on your sheets of plywood, and cut the six pieces you'll need: two lengths (length by height), two ends (width by height) and the top and bottom (length by width).
Join the corners together with the screws, and seal all edges with veneer tape. Drill the handles into place, making sure they're secure and sturdy enough to support a person's weight. Once you've applied the glue to the tape, let it set for at least 24 hours.
Consider engraving a special message or design with incised carving. Create your design on your computer, print it out, and attach it with rubber cement to the area where you want the design to appear. Carve right through the pattern using a chip-carving knife.
For a more professional and more expensive approach, solicit one of the many businesses that performs laser engraving. These companies will do all the engraving for you and ship you the engraved pieces to be joined to your existing wood.
When finished, apply wood finish to the casket, then wipe off the excess after 10 minutes. Let this dry for 24 hours before moving the casket.