How to make a DIY Cremation Urn (2023)

How to make a DIY Cremation Urn (1)

When a loved one passes and is cremated, you have to decide where is the best place for their body to rest in the years to come. There are many options for types and styles of urns. Green Meadow Memorials supplies various types of beautiful urns, but they also understand that sometimes due to financial reasons OR just simply because people may want a more personal touch, some families may choose to make their own wooden urn for their loved one.

So today, I'm sharing with you how to make your own simple wooden urn with just three tools and a standard 1x8 board.

Once the urn is completed, you can leave as is, but Green Meadow Memorials has created a personalized plate to put onto this specific urn based on its dimensions. This plate option allows you to personalize your DIY urn with a name, date, or sentiment in several different finishes.

Now, for the how-to.

For a project like this, I recommend using a good quality hardwood. But those can sometimes be pricey. In this project, I'm using a standard 1x8 poplar board from the Home Depot. You can purchase 4 ft of this board for a little under $15. However, if you have access to a local hardwood store, you may can find some other hardwood options like walnut or even oak or cherry and have them surface it for you for about the same price.

Besides the 4 ft long 1x8 board, all you need to complete this project is:

(Video) How to Make a DIY Cremation Urn

  • Miter saw
  • Router
  • Drill
  • Wood Glue
  • Painter's Tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Clamps (optional)
  • Sander (optional)

You can find the step by step written tutorial below as well as a video tutorial here:

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Step 1: Cut Pieces to Create Wooden Urn Box

To get started, I brought my 4 ft 1x8 board to the miter saw and checked that my miter was square to the back fence. Then, I set my saw's bevel to 45 degrees. It's important to keep these cuts square with a bevel of exactly 45 degrees.

(Video) Make a Cremation Cask

Then I trimmed off the edge of the board to give me my first 45 degree beveled edge. I measured off this long edge 6 ¾" and cut making sure my bevel was NOT parallel to the first bevel—they should be in opposite directions. You can see the whole process in the video above.

To make a continuous grain pattern around the box, after the first piece was cut to 6 ¾" long, I flipped the board over and trimmed the edge again before measuring and cutting my next piece. This way, the outside of the urn box will all be the same side of the board making a continuous grain. I did this for all my cuts.

For my second piece, I cut 6 ¼" long. Here’s a diagram to show how to make the cuts for a continuous grain design.

Then, I repeated this to make two more pieces, one 6 ¾" and one 6 ¼" just like shown above.

Step 2: Glue Up Wooden Urn Box

So now I had two 6 ¼" pieces and two 6 ¾" pieces. I dry fit them together to make sure the corners lined up. The two shorter pieces will be opposite each other and the two longer pieces will be opposite each other to make this box nice and square.

Then I laid them out upside down alternating sizes and making sure the grain matched up. I placed them so that sides were touching and applied painters tape along the joints.

Then I flipped it over and applied more tape to the inside joints like shown to help prevent glue from getting all over the inside corners of the box during glue up.

I applied wood glue to the joints and taped the box up at the corners making sure to keep everything lined up well at the corners.

(Video) How To Make An Urn For Ashes | Dovetailed Urn Box

If you have some clamps—or even a ratchet strap—it may help to keep the corners nice and tight if you clamp this box tight while the glue dries. Wipe away excess glue squeeze out with a rag or old t-shirt.

Step 3: Cut Wooden Urn Top and Bottom Pieces

While I let the glue dry, adjusted my miter saw bevel back to 90 degrees and cut two pieces of 1x8 to 7 ¾". I installed a 30 degree chamfer bit into my router and adjusted the depth so that it would route about 3/8" deep onto the edge of these boards. Then I clamped these pieces to the workbench and routed the edges along the top sides.

This routing step is totally optional. You could leave the board edges square if you don’t have a router OR you could also cut this by adjusting the bevel of your miter saw to 30 degrees and trimming this chamfer. However, the router gives more consistent results vs the miter saw.

Step 4: Attach Urn Top

Once these edges were routed, I waited for the glue to dry on the box completely, then removed the tape and sanded all the pieces well.

A sander is really helpful for this step, but you can also hand sand these pieces if you don’t have a sander. The main thing here is to sand to remove any excess glue squeezed out during the glue process.

Another key part of this project is getting the miter joints tight. Sometimes miter joints are tricky. So if there are any small gaps in the corners, I like to apply a little wood glue along the joints, smearing it into any cracks or gaps. Then I sand while the glue is still wet. This allows the wet glue to mix with a little sawdust and creates kind of a matching wood putty that fills in the gaps.

Once everything was well sanded, I applied wood glue along the top of the box and centered one of the 7 ¾" boards on it like shown.

If you have clamps you can clamp this in place until the glue dries. Or, if you have a heavy object you can place on top, that would work as well.

(Video) Making an Urn for My Dad - Woodworking

Step 5: Finish and Attach Bottom

Once the glue was dry, I gave the top box and the bottom piece a coat of finish. I used a simple beeswax to keep the natural poplar color, but you can finish with a clear coat, stain or a wax of your choice.

Once the finish was dry, I flipped the urn upside down and centered the bottom on the box. I predrilled four holes along the sides like shown.

Then I attached the bottom with 2" wood screws through these holes.

Wooden urns are designed so that the bottom piece is screwed in place and can be removed to place the ashes, then put back on.

Once the urn is completed, you can leave as is. But, as previously mentioned, Green Meadow Memorials has an option for a personalized engraved plate to put onto this specific urn based on its dimensions.

These plates come in the finishes shown above and are easily installed with the included finish nails. Simply center the plate where you’d like and lightly hammer the included nails through the predrilled holes in the corners. View their engraved plate and plaques.

A wooden urn doesn’t have to be complicated to make on your own. With just a few common tools and a standard size board, you can honor your passed loved one with a DIY wooden urn made with hands that loved them.

How to make a DIY Cremation Urn (27)

About Shara & Woodshop Diaries

Shara is the author behind the DIY and woodworking blog, Woodshop Diaries. She is a fearless DIYer with a passion for corny dad jokes, black coffee, acoustic guitar, and calculus. You can find her building furniture in her shop and sharing her journey on and on her YouTube channel.

(Video) Cremation urn


Can I make my own cremation urn? ›

You can make your own cremation urn. It's not too difficult to make a simple wooden box. Or, if you have a special skill in ceramics, paper mache, or some other medium, you can make your own cremation vessel that way. You can also create an urn from "found" items, or things you wouldn't otherwise think of as an urn.

What can I use in place of an urn? ›

What Can You Use Instead Of Urns?
  • The Simple Container. When you get any cremation package, it will come with a simple container for your loved one's remains automatically. ...
  • Coffee Cans. ...
  • Cookie Jars. ...
  • Stuffed Animals. ...
  • Cremation Jewelry.
Aug 16, 2021

What should a cremation urn be made of? ›

Ceramic and porcelain – Ceramic is the most widely used material for cremation urns. Memorials made out of ceramic are usually unique, artful and attractive, fitting perfectly any interior. The clean smooth surface of the ceramic makes it the preferred choice for many.

Do cremation urns need to be sealed? ›

Do I need to seal the cremation urn? Sealing the cremation urn is a personal decision and there are no rules that say that you have to seal the urn or that you don't have to seal the cremation urn for ashes.

Do you keep ashes in plastic bag in urn? ›

Request that personnel at the funeral home or crematorium do it for you. Keep the original sealed container intact and transfer the ashes yourself. Simply take the plastic bag containing the ashes out of the cardboard box and place the entire bag inside a cremation urn, box or memorial chest of suitable size.

What is the best material to preserve ashes? ›

Best Materials For Cremation Urns
  • Ceramic.
  • Porcelain.
  • Marble.
  • Glass.
  • Crystal.
  • Stone.
  • Wood.
  • Fiber cellulose.
Aug 5, 2021

What is the standard size of an urn? ›

The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) has determined that the size of a standard urn is 200 cubic inches, but slightly smaller or larger urns are available and range from 175 to 300 cubic inches.

Can you put ashes in a plastic container? ›

After cremation of the body occurs, the cremated remains must be placed in an appropriate container. An appropriate container need not be expensive. The crematorium usually returns the cremated remains in a cardboard or plastic container; this meets minimum requirements for inurnment in the cemetery.

What makes an urn an urn? ›

An urn is anything that holds cremated remains. If you already have an urn, you can provide it to our staff. Otherwise, our staff will help you determine what type of urn would be best whether you plan to bury the remains, scatter them, or keep them at home.

Can I make my own biodegradable urn? ›

You can create a beautiful, biodegradable paper mache urn. Just make sure you use all environmentally safe materials. A paper mache urn can be displayed in your home for as long as you wish, and then you can use it to scatter ashes. The great thing about paper mache is that it will degrade into earth and water.

How long do human ashes last in an urn? ›

Ashes have no expiry date

There's no rush on moving or transferring them. You can keep them in the container from the crematorium for as long as you need. You might keep them in your home forever, or you might decide to scatter or bury them at a later date.

How deep does an urn have to be? ›

2) Depth: The rule of thumb is to bury the urn at least 3 feet deep. If that's not possible, you should be sure that there is at least 6 to 12 inches of soil covering the buried urn. If in doubt, at least 36 inches (3 feet) deep is a safe bet.

How much does it cost to make an urn? ›

The container's size, style, and material are all important factors in its overall cost. Most people pay $70 to $2,250 for a full sized, permanent urn and $50 to $350 for green burial containers.

What type of urn lasts the longest? ›

Natural stone could very well last forever simply because it has already lasted forever. Natural stone urns, such as those made of marble, tend to be heavier than other materials.

What type of urn is best for ashes? ›

Metal urns and urns made from cultured materials are suitable for burial. Cultured materials include granite, marble, onyx or custom blends of resin and filler that have the strength to withstand the underground forces which can cause physical stress to the urn over time.

How do you seal a cremation urn? ›

When sealing cremation urns that are made of ceramic or glass, carefully squeeze a thin bead of sealant around the cap, then place the cap back on the urn, gently pressing it into place. Be sure to follow the directions on the adhesive with regard to drying time.

Do they glue urns shut? ›

The way that urns are sealed depends on how the urn is manufactured. For example, many ceramic urns have a top made to close by twisting the lid into place. This built-in seal is meant to keep the ashes in place; however, some may opt to apply additional sealant or adhesive (e.g., applying silicone sealant to the lid).

Does an urn need to be air tight? ›

No need to seal. With many of our marble or stone urns, the interior of the urn is accessed by a threaded stopper. Thus, pouring the remains is the recommended method. Some stoppers include a gasket; if not, you may want to use caulk or plumber's tape to seal the urn.

Do they glue urns closed? ›

Sealed urns may have similar lids to unsealed urns. However, they are usually closed with an additional sealant such as a wax or adhesive.

What happens if you open an urn? ›

Yes, it is generally okay to open an urn. Most say that cremated remains are sterile, so you shouldn't have to worry about your health or safety from opening an urn. There are no legal reasons why an urn can't be opened either unless there is a question of who legally owns the cremains.

Can you smell ashes from an urn? ›

If you are concerned that the ashes will smell after the cremation, the answer is no. There is no odor emitted from ashes that have been properly cremated. Even over time, you shouldn't expect any particular smells to develop. If anything, certain cremation containers will simply emit a slight incense-like smell.

What happens if all the ashes don't fit in the urn? ›

If your urn has a small opening and does not have enough room to house the entire bag of ashes, the ashes must be poured in.

What do funeral homes use to seal urns? ›

Unscrew and remove the lid in order to place the cremated remains inside. Carefully place the bag holding the cremated remains into the urn and replace the lid. Metal cremation urns can be permanently sealed using a silicone epoxy or metal glue when you replace the lid.

What can I put ashes in temporarily? ›

A temporary urn is a container (usually made of cardboard or plastic) that holds ashes immediately after cremation. The cremains are often placed in a sealable plastic bag before getting placed in the temporary urn.

Where is the best place to keep ashes? ›

If you're thinking of having a permanent spot for your loved one's urn, consider placing their urn in a columbarium. A columbarium is a room or free-standing structure located in a cemetery or church. Here, you'll find compartments for placing urns with cremation ashes.

How much does a 200 lb person weigh after cremation? ›

Cremation ashes for a 200 lbs man weighs about 7 lbs or ~3.1 kg. Cremation ashes for a 250 lbs man weighs about 8.75 lbs or ~4 kg.

Do bigger people need bigger urns? ›

In the cremation process, body fat is completely incinerated while most of what remains is bone matter, so a larger individual will often require an urn of less than equal capacity to their actual weight.

Does urn size matter? ›

As a rule of thumb, each pound of body weight equals roughly one cubic inch of ashes after cremation. It is suggested to select an urn a bit larger than the space, expected to use. Usually, created remains weigh 3-7 pounds and require about 180-220 cubic inches capacity.

What does the Bible say about keeping ashes of a loved one? ›

According to the Bible, cremating and scattering the ashes of a loved one is neither right nor wrong. Choosing to cremate and scatter ultimately comes down to the wishes of the deceased or the personal preference of those burying a relative.

Do human ashes have to be in a bag? ›

Travelers are allowed to travel with cremains in a checked bag, however it is recommended to do so in a carry-on bag to help protect the contents from the risks associated with checked baggage.

What is the difference between a cremation container and an urn? ›

The temporary container and urn perform basically the same function – they contain the remains after the cremation process. This is the “ashes box.” A temporary container is almost always a plastic container with a plastic bag containing the remains inside. A “permanent” urn is typically made from metal, stone or wood.

Do urns have to be metal? ›

Urns can be made out of various material types, and two of the most popular happen to be wood and metal. While you can get great urns made from either material, each has benefits and advantages that might win you over depending on your plans for the urn going forward.

Do urns have names on them? ›

But typically, most urns for ashes are personalized with three lines of text: a brief memorial phrase along with the person's name and dates. Sometimes a fourth line is added with a sentiment, quote, or Scripture verse. Here is the traditional format: Line 1: In Loving Memory.

Can you open an urn once it's been sealed? ›

If the metal urn is sealed with wax or adhesive, try to open it by soaking a cotton swab in fingernail polish remover or an epoxy solvent. Repeatedly run the swab along the sealed portion of the urn. You might have to wiggle the lid several times or use a flathead screwdriver to open the urn.

Do cremated ashes dissolve in water? ›

Human ashes are like sand and they do not float. They will not dissolve in the water; instead, they will descend into the ocean until they hit the floor. Can we have a service or a mariner's farewell ceremony before we scatter ashes?

How long will a salt urn last? ›

As such, the time it takes to break down will vary. For example, a natural salt biodegradable urn could last for decades on land. When placed in water, it dissolves in a few hours. Urns made of paper might survive in good condition for months in a home, but break down as soon as they become wet.

How do you separate ashes for an urn? ›

How to divide cremated remains. Most crematoriums return the ashes in a plastic bag, placed in a "temporary urn" made often from cardboard. This will work fine to divide ashes. If the funeral provider is dividing for you, you would ask them beforehand and provide the urns or containers you have selected.

Can you get DNA from human ashes? ›

Can You Get DNA From Cremated Remains? Yes. DNA testing is often done on the bodies of the dead, even after they've been cremated. The immense heat of the cremation ovens breaks down the body's organic matter, leaving bone fragments and teeth behind as they don't disintegrate during the cremation process.

Is it OK to keep human ashes at home? ›

Is it OK to Keep Cremains at Home? There's nothing bad about keeping cremated remains at home. Even though the practice is legal, those from specific faith communities may object to the practice. Some religious faiths, such as followers of Islam, Eastern Orthodox, and some Jewish sects forbid cremation.

Do ashes hold energy? ›

From a scientific standpoint, cremated ashes do contain a little energy (energy here being “the ability to do work or cause change”).

Does the whole body fit in an urn? ›

Most standard adult urns have an interior capacity of about 200 cubic inches, while "companion urns" (for two people) have a capacity of 400 cubic inches. A 200 cubic inch cremation urn, which is the industry standard size for an adult urn. Will fit the remains for almost all adults.

How much weight does an urn hold? ›

Urn Size for Human Ashes
Deceased Pre Death Weight POUNDS / STONE / KGURN SIZE / VOLUME REQUIRED Cubic Inches / LitresWEIGHT OF ASHES (Approx) grams / kg
1lb / 0.072 stone / 0.45kg1 cubic inch / 17ml13 g
62lb / 4.5 stone / 28.5KG62 cubic inches / 1 Litre850 g
168lb / 12 stone / 76.2KG168 cubic inches / 2.8 Litres2.17 kg

How long does an urn last in the ground? ›

According to experts, cremains in the ground will generally stay as they are for decades. While they can technically biodegrade, it's a prolonged process. For example, it could take years before they mix with the soil in a garden.

How long do cremated ashes last in an urn? ›

Ashes have no expiry date

There's no rush on moving or transferring them. You can keep them in the container from the crematorium for as long as you need. You might keep them in your home forever, or you might decide to scatter or bury them at a later date.

What size urn is needed for cremation? ›

Standard Size Cremation Urns

The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) has determined that the size of a standard urn is 200 cubic inches, but slightly smaller or larger urns are available and range from 175 to 300 cubic inches. Generally, cremations are one cubic inch for each pound of body weight.

What are the dimensions of a cremation urn? ›

Box-type urns will often be rectangular, with the long side measuring 10-12 inches. The two shorter dimensions might be between 6-9 inches. Vase-shaped urns will typically be around 9-13 inches tall. These urns will have a diameter of around 6-9, depending on how tall or squat they are.

Do you put ashes directly in urn? ›

Pour the ashes directly into the urn, or place the ashes in a plastic or biodegradable bag and insert that directly in the urn; and. Place the lid back on top and insert the locking pin.

How much does a 300 pound person weigh after cremation? ›

Fat burns away, leaving bone mass to be incinerated into “ashes.” Cremated remains, regardless of the size of a person in life, usually weigh between 4 to 6 pounds.

How deep do you dig for an urn? ›

The general rule of thumb is to bury the urn at least three feet deep. If this is not possible, there should be at least 6 to 12 inches of soil covering the buried urn.

How many cups of ashes does a human make? ›

Sources in the funerary industry state that one pound of human or pet weight equals one cubic inch of cremated remains. If a person weighs 150 pounds, expect to receive about 150 cubic inches of ashes, which is about the same as 10.5 cups.


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