Casket Kit Assembly Instructions
Use these detailed instructions to assemble a Simple Pine Box casket from a kit specifically designed for do-it-yourself assembly with common household tools. You need not be an expert woodworker to take on this project. If you are looking to build a more contemporary casket, have a look at "So You Wanna Build a Casket."
Before You Begin
Gather a few helping hands from friends and family. Share this experience. Spending time with one another and working together to assemble a casket for a lost loved one is a healthy part of the healing experience.
Assembly of this casket kit will take 1-2 hours. Take a few moments before you begin to get familiar with the parts, the 5 assembly steps, and gather a few tools. Review all 5 assembly steps before proceeding with step 1.
It is best to work on a flat, level surface. If you don’t have a large table or workshop, the floor will do. Clear some room where you will have a nice level surface to work and plenty of space.
Lastly, mistakes happen. If you install the wrong rib in the wrong place, don’t panic or get frustrated. The glue has a working time of 10 to 15 minutes, so take a few moments to fix it and everything will look great.
Tools That Will Help
- Rubber Mallet (or hammer and a block of wood)
- Tape measure, yardstick, or carpenter's square
- Putty knife
- Drill or power screwdriver
- Damp cloth (for cleaning up glue messes)
What Comes In The Kit?
- 1 Lid composed of 5 tongue & groove boards and 4 ribs (note: the Half-Couch kit comes with a two-piece lid for a total of 10 boards and 6 ribs)
- 1 Floor composed of 5 tongue & groove boards and 3 ribs (note: the floor makes good use of the small pieces from cut-offs)
- 2 Sides each composed of 4 tongue & groove boards and 4 ribs
- 2 Ends each composed of 4 tongue & groove boards and 1 rib
- 4 oz. of non-animal based wood glue
- 100 #8 square drive 1.25 inch hi-lo thread wood screws
- 1 #8 square driver
- 1 piece of sand paper
- 20 feet of all natural 100% cotton rope
- 12 finish nails
About the Rib and Dado System
Our casket kit design uses simple wooden ribs for structural integrity and easy assembly. These ribs also allow us to conceal the fasteners internally providing a clean, finished look for the final product. Our snap-in ribs with dado joinery (grooves) make it easy to precisely align the panels during assembly. The rib joints get their strength from two sources: glue surface and screws. We use non-animal based Elmer’s wood glue to provide a superior bond between the ribs and the boards. You need not use very much glue--if the glue squeezes out of the dado (the groove) then use a little less glue in the next joint. We have drilled pilot holes for the screws in all of the ribs. When you position the rib, align such that the pilot holes are in about the middle of each board. The screws provide a tight fit while the glue bonds without requiring the use of clamps. You can leave the screws in place after the glue sets, but you can also remove them for a 100% metal free.
About Hi-Lo Metal Screws
Our kit uses just under 100 metal screws. We use screws that are not galvanized, anodized, or protected in any way to prevent oxidation. We assure you that these screws will have about the same decomposition life as the wood casket.
The screws in this kit have self-tapping hi-lo threads designed to provide superior pull-out strength, are easier to drive than conventional screws, and reduce splitting and cracking of the wood. Do not over-tighten these screws. You can stop driving the screw when the washer head makes contact with the wood surface.
About Wood Glue
The more glue you use, the longer the setting time. If the glue squeezes out of the joint, then you have just a bit too much. If you don't see any glue squeeze out at all, you might not have enough. If you make a mess you can wipe away the excess glue with a wet rag. However, if you plan to stain or apply an oil finish, then do not use a wet cloth to wipe away excess glue. The glue will seal the wood and block your stain finish. Instead, let the glue dry no matter how messy it gets. Once dry, chip or scrape away the glue carefully with a putty knife or paint scraper.
Step 1 - Attach Ribs to Panels
Each panel is made up of 4-5 boards held together by a series of ribs. The ribs fit securely in pre-cut grooves in each of the boards. It is important that the completed panels measure to their specified widths (see Table 1).
Start on one end of the panel and arrange the ribs so that the pre-drilled holes land approximately in the center of each of the panel boards. Working from one end to the other, use a putty knife to evenly distribute the space at each tongue & groove joint to attain the width specified in Table 1. Check the measurement again before applying glue and driving the screws.
Step 2 - Attach One End to One Side
Place a long Side flat on your level work surface. Lay a bead of glue on the square corner rib where the End panel will join with the Side panel. Position an End panel up against the corner rib so that the dado (the groove that receives the casket floor) in the End aligns with the same dado in the Side. The top edge of the End and Side should also line up nicely where the Lid will rest on the casket. Drive the 4 screws through the corner rib securing the End in place with the Side.
Step 3 - Attach The Floor
Lay a bead of glue in the long dado (groove) that runs along the bottom edge of the Side panel. Lay a bead of glue in the same dado in the bottom edge of the End panel. Position the floor with ribs toward the underside of the casket into the dado in both the Side and End panels. Use a mallet to tap the floor back and forth until it fits into the side and is square with the end. There should be 1/4 inch of the floor protruding past the corner rib on the end where we will fix the other End panel to receive the floor.
Designed for Strength
The dado joint for the floor provides a gluing surface and adds tremendous strength to the casket. The pocket hole screws help keep the floor secure in the dado while the glue dries.
Step 4 - Attach the Remaining End and Side
Lay a bead of glue in the dado on the remaining End panel and on the corner rib where the End panel will join the Side panel. Position the End in place with the corner rib and insert the Floor into the dado on the End panel. This may require some mallet tapping to get the floor positioned so that both ends are square to the Side and Floor panels. Drive 4 pocket hole screws from the underside of the Floor into the Side and End panels. Attach the other Side panel to Floor and End panels in the same fashion.
Next, lay the remaining Side panel down flat and lay a bead of glue in its long dado. Lay a bead of glue on each of the corner ribs at both ends of the remaining Side panel. Pick up the Floor, Side, and 2 Ends already assembled, flip it over, and place on top of the remaining Side panel. Tap into place with a mallet and drive 4 screws into each of the corner ribs to secure the ends in place. Drive last 2 screws from underside of Floor into side Panel.
Step 5 - Thread the Rope Handles
Take the 20 feet of cotton rope and tie a secure single knot in one end. Starting in a corner on the inside of the casket, feed the rope through one of the handle holes. Feed the rope back into the casket exposing a 20 inch long handle on the outside of the casket. Proceed to the next hole and repeat.
Notice that on the inside of the casket, the rope tightly wraps around the side ribs and corner ribs. As you lace the rope, pull it as tight as you can--the long handles will have plenty of stretch for a nice comfortable grip on the casket. When you get to the final handle, tie a tight knot again to keep the rope from slipping out. When finished, there should be 3 long handles on each Side panel, and 1 long handle on each End panel for a total of 8 rope handles.
Our caskets come in natural, unfinished pine. Prior to kiln drying and milling, we age our pine in a manner that promotes natural staining that results in a range of colors from blue to golden brown. This natural staining method results in beautiful variations in the color of the wood without compromising strength. Some customers opt to personalize their caskets with stain, paint, or other decorations. We encourage you to decorate your casket in any way you choose.
We also leave the method of casket closing entirely up to you. The easiest method to secure the lid is with 6-10 finish nails no more than 1.5 inches long. You can also use small wood screws, but we encourage you to drill pilot holes to prevent the lid from splitting. Some people prefer to pre-drill holes and use wooden pegs.
You can line the inside of the casket in any number of ways. Maybe your family would prefer a natural biodegradable bed of dried straw, grass, or leaves. The kit includes a jute pillow and cushion set that can be filled with shredded paper. Another idea is to recycle/reuse old blankets and pillows that might otherwise be discarded. Be creative in whatever you choose.