Most traditional caskets are mass-produced these days. But there are affordable casket options that are carefully handcrafted and also eco-friendly.
Barnwood caskets fit into this category. These alternative caskets may be suitable for your loved one if you prefer a casket with a rustic and simple style.
Note: The words “casket” and “coffin” are often used interchangeably. Actually, these two words mean different things. We will not be using coffin in this article.
What Is a Barn Wood Casket?
A barn wood casket is made of salvaged or reclaimed wood from old barns.
Many woodworkers and craftsmen turn old barn wood into furniture pieces. Some even use old wood to make rustic caskets. The results are hand-crafted, unique caskets with rough natural finishes.
Barn wood caskets are increasing in popularity. In 2015, top casket supplier Batesville launched their version of an authentic barn wood casket made of untreated and reclaimed lumber. Each year it becomes more and more popular.
Barn wood caskets are gaining in popularity because of their unique style and environmental benefit. But they may not be readily available at your local funeral home. There are several barn wood caskets available online.
Should I Get A Barn Wood Casket?
The benefits of barn wood casket are two-fold.
They offer an alternative look and feel to more traditional coffins. The rustic look is less formal, more unique, and has a natural handmade feel. For many people this is more fitting for their loved one.
The second benefit is environmental. The material is reclaimed and recycled so no new trees are required. And often, the finishes are natural. This lowers the time to decompose, returning natural materials to the Earth.
If you want a rustic casket that isn’t harmful to the environment, you should check out barn wood casket options.
How Much Is a Barn Wood Casket?
Barn wood caskets can cost more than $3,000. But this varies by manufacturer.
For example, Oakey & Son Funeral Home sells a barn wood casket for $3,250 while Gunderson sells one for $3,995.
Not the most economical option, but still a lot cheaper than traditional caskets made of expensive hardwood and metal such as copper and bronze.
Some funeral homes offer barn wood caskets. However, the selection will be limited. (Could only be one option.)
Finding Barn Wood Caskets Online
We find it is almost always cheapest to purchase caskets online. However, we’ve struggled to find many barn wood casket options available directly to consumers (most retailers sell wholesale to funeral homes).
But there are still options. Our favorite casket retailer, Titan Caskets, makes the Titan Rustic Oak with a textured barn board finish. It is more affordable than the price range listed for funeral homes above.
For a truly unique casket, local woodworkers and craftspeople may be able to create your barn wood casket. Many craftsmen are able to source reclaimed or salvaged wood. There may even be a personal connection to the materials used.
This will also allow for even more personalization. Together you can customize the finishes, panel style, design, and interior.
Why You Should Use Reclaimed Wood for Caskets
There are three main environmental benefits to using reclaimed wood, especially in caskets.
- Preserves natural resources
- Creates less waste
- Fewer paints and stains
Barn wood caskets are eco-friendly because they are usually made of reclaimed wood. Instead of disposing of the materials dismantled from an old barn, they can be up-cycled.
Many casket companies only use 100% reclaimed barnwood to emphasize their caskets’ authenticity—as opposed to barn wood caskets that only replicate a rustic appearance.
Preserves Natural Resources
Wooden caskets make use of thousands of tons of natural timber each year. By using reclaimed wood, there is a reduced need to log for timber resources, and trees are allowed to mature to old growth.
By reducing the need for new lumber, less energy is consumed throughout the entire cycle. Fewer trees are logged, which means a lower number of logs are transported, less energy used, lower emissions, and less waste created.
Less Need For Paints and Stains
Using reclaimed wood reduces the need for additional chemicals in two ways.
There is often no need for paint, stain, or other chemicals to achieve the rustic appearance of a barn wood casket. Salvaged wood can be left in its natural state or rubbed with natural oil for a rustic finish.
Newly harvested timber is treated with chemicals that may seep into the soil and water adding to pollution and harming the environment. Recycling wood will reduce the overall use of the chemicals.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Barn Wood Casket
If you want to create your barn wood casket, you don’t have to scour for old wood panels or buy expensive lumber with a barn wood finish.
Inexpensive wood boards such as pine can achieve the rustic look of a barn wood that you can easily turn into a casket. Simple pine caskets may be the look you’re going for.
Casket Builder Supply has extensive instructions on how to build your own casket.
Design You Casket: Size & Shape
Take note of the exterior dimensions of a casket. If you want to include handles and an overhang at the couch, this can affect the overall dimensions. You can review our guide to casket sizes.
The standard interior dimensions of a wood casket are 75 inches long, 22 inches wide, and 16-22 inches high. Caskets are also made in child size and oversized.
Gather Your tools
For this DIY project, you will need:
- Hand saw, crosscut saw, or miter box saw
- Tape measure
- Framing square
- Hammer or rubber mallet
- Screwdriver or power drill/driver
- Scraper or chisel
Prepare the Barn Boards
If you can source reclaimed lumber, great. Sources include old barns, garages, scrap yards, antique stores, and local salvage yards.
Assess each piece of reclaimed lumber for strength before using them in a casket project.
If you cannot find reclaimed lumber or any authentic barn wood board, you can transform an inexpensive pine board into barn wood. Simply follow these instructions from Family Handyman on how to make your own barn wood.
Cut the barn wood boards
A casket is rectangular and contains 6 sides with 4 walls, 1 top, and 1 bottom. Here is a sample cut list from Casket Builder Supply:
- Two (2) Bottom Frame Rails / 1in. x 2in. by 76.5 inches
- Five (5) Bottom Frame Crossbars / 1in. x 2in. by 22.5 inches
- Two (2) Floorboards (outside) / 1in. x 10in. by 76.5 inches
- One (1) Floorboard (center) / 1in. x 6in. by 76.5 inches
- Four (4) Sideboards / 1in. x 10in. by 78.25 inches
- Four (4) End boards / 1in. x 10in. by 24 inches
- Two (2) Top boards (outside) / 1in. x 10in. by 78.50 inches
- One (1) Top board (center) / 1in. x 8in. by 78.50 inches
Follow the In-depth Assembly Instructions for the Frame and Boards
Casket Builder Supply (article and PDF download) has extensive instructions on how to assemble all the barn wood boards.
If you prefer to create your own casket with a kit, Casket Builder Supply also offers a build-your-own casket kit that includes all the cut wood parts needed to build a simple rectangular casket. (Including a two-piece removable lid.)
Their kit uses pine wood, but if you follow the Family Handyman instructions for transforming wood you can use the kit to build your own barn wood casket.
Yes. Barn wood caskets are made of reclaimed wood which is helpful for the environment. Instead of discarding material from old barns, people upcycle it into barn wood caskets reducing the need for new lumber.
The use of reclaimed wood for caskets has many environmental benefits. It preserves natural resources, lowers energy consumption, and generates less waste. It also cuts down on chemicals used to treat new lumber and paints and stains used in finishing wood.
A barn wood casket purchased from a manufacturer will cost $3,000 or more. You can lower the price by building one yourself or hiring local craftspeople.
Yes. You can create your own barn wood casket using reclaimed wood or any inexpensive lumber with a barn wood finish. Simply follow the instructions of Casket Builder Supply while using reclaimed lumber as your frame and floor boards.
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