Homegrown coffin

DIY Coffin

 

A number of our families have chosen to skilfully craft their own coffin either for burial or cremation.

If you have the time, expertise and tools, a bespoke coffin is a fitting gesture.

Timing

Don’t underestimate the time involved, sometimes a coffin is required on the day of or day after death.

Here are some guidelines:

Natural Burial

Coffins for natural burial must be constructed of biodegradable, sustainably grown timber. No metal or plastic fittings are permitted with the exception of metal screws and nails. No toxic glues, oil based paints or synthetic stains or varnishes should be used.

The coffin must be lined with natural fibres, cottons, linens or wool fleece. The waterproof membrane should also be biodegradable – we recommend corn-starch film.

Conventional burial or cremation

Whilst it is not essential to follow the same requirements for a natural burial – it does make sense to minimise the environmental impact of burying or burning man made materials.

Construction & design

A four sided rectangular ‘oblong’ coffin is simpler to make than a six sided ‘kite’ shaped coffin. Information on designs and construction are readily shared online – search DIY coffin.

Handles must be secure and load bearing – a full length rail handle enables more pall bearers than the standard six handles. Rope handles can cut into your hands if the coffin is being carried any distance.

Ensure that the coffin is well constructed and will bear the required weight – test it.

FOR CREMATION, THE COFFIN MUST HAVE A COMPLETELY FLAT BASE

Coffin interior

If you are planning to line the interior of the coffin a simple draped quilt, blanket or sheet will do or you can fully line using fabric cut to size and upholster using minimal tacks or staples. The coffin should have a leak proof membrane underneath the textile lining.

Size does matter

Consider the logistics of transferring the coffin in a vehicle and through doorways.

EXTERNAL DIMENSIONS OF STANDARD COFFINS
NOT INCLUDING HANDLES
LENGTHWIDTHHEIGHT IMPERIAL
Small1702mm508mm331mm
5’7” x 20” x 13”
Medium1855mm559mm356mm
6’1” x 24” x 14”
Large1982mm610mm407mm
6’6” x 24” x 16”

 

Burial

When booking a burial, cemeteries require the exterior dimensions of the coffin (including handles) so the correct size hole is dug. Coffins over a certain width and length may incur extra charges from the cemetery. An oblong (four sided rectangle) coffin may also incur an extra fee.

LOCAL CEMETERY STANDARD DIMENSIONS INCLUDING HANDLES & BEFORE INCURRING EXTRA WIDTH FEES
LENGTHWIDTHHEIGHT
Karori2080mm690mm500mm
Whenua Tapu2400mm690mm500mm

 

Cremation

Cremator doors at our public crematoria are a fixed height and width.

LOCAL CREMATORIA MAXIMUM COFFIN DIMENSIONS
LENGTHWIDTHHEIGHT
Karori2400mm750mm500mm
Whenua Tapu2400mm700mm500mm

If in doubt call your local cemetery, crematorium or contact us for advice.