A Grave Matter…

Do it yourself coffinsDo-It-Yourself Coffins: For Pets and People

An ALB tipster put me on to this title.  I was DYING to get my hands on it.   With a bit of gallows-type humor (mostly puns), this book details wood carving for coffins for both humans and pets.  Really.  No, there is nothing WRONG with this book.  It really is a good choice for a wood working  collection.  Given the condition of the copy I saw, this particular book has been well loved.  I will not “out” the owning library because maybe they have a huge woodworking patronage (or a rather macabre clientele).  Personally, I cracked up at our carpenter author on the back in his death garb and the details of how you can make a coffin double as a coffee table.

I died laughing.


Do it yourself coffins


  1. I like the idea of the coffin-table! It must be very reassuring to know that, should you die suddenly, your family doesn’t have to worry about finding a coffin. Simply use the coffee table. And it gives your interior that Addams family feel.

    On a more serious note, I can see the utility of explaining how to make coffins for pets.

  2. Doesn’t Dale Power do a whole series of woodworking books? The name just sounds familiar.

  3. the reviews of this title are really bad. apparently, it’s more about the concept than the finished product.

  4. Coffintable, er, coffeetable?

    Okay, what happens if the wordworker dies while making his coffin? Has a heart attack, gets a nasty saw injury and bleeds out, or was kinda old and frail in the first place (as some of the hardcore woodworkers I’ve met are)? Would they be buried in their incomplete coffins, would their likeminded friends finish the job for them, or would their families go out and buy a box and defeat the dead woodworker’s economising? What if the coffin was complete, yet the survivors thought it was ugly and wouldn’t use it?

  5. I gave a shocked burst of laughter when I saw this post. I own a copy of this book! We use it more as a Halloween decoration than a craft guide, but we still have the option of putting it to use!

  6. There is a newer title on the subject (owned by my library system):

    Fancy Coffins to Make Yourself (Schiffer, 2001)
    also by Dale Power.

    It got a good review in Library Journal!

  7. Well, I’m just an old hippie, but DIY funerals and homemade coffins sound pretty good to me. Isn’t that we way we all used to take care of our dead loved ones not so long ago? I think Jessica Mitford discussed this issue in The American Way of Death, way back in the 1960s. Have you looked at the costs of funeral homes and coffins lately? Wouldn’t you rather your family pay off their mortgage in your memory, or take a sweet vacation?

  8. “how you can make a coffin double as a coffee table.”

    It’s the Clarissa model! 😀

    Actually I think it’s quite nice to do a DIY coffin or funeral; the whole funeral industry squicks me out. Wrap me in a shroud and put me in a pine box, I say!

  9. You ought to make huge poster-size copies of the cover of this one and the Goth one from an earlier post and use them as Halloween decorations.

  10. I was looking at this book and thinking “I know I have seen this book before, we have to own it.” Sure enough I checked the online catalog and my library is the only one in the system to have it. We have all had some good laughs at this books expense.

  11. Oh yeah, keep the book in the collection. But watch carefully the people who borrow it. Maybe give their names and addresses to the local authorities… Just to be on the safe side.

    (Kidding BTW. lol)

  12. There’s no reason it should be weeded, I just have to wonder why it was purchased to begin with. Like the Passsion for Donkeys book from a previous post, this title makes me wonder what the buyer had in mind when (s)he saw it in a magazine and said, “Wow, we really need this book!”

  13. I recently read ” A household guide to dying”
    by Debra Adelaide (Penguin, 2009) and the main character uses her own coffin as a table and has her children draw on it. Good read.

  14. My husband, a carpenter- and one who’s always loved the macabre, has this book and has made 2 coffins. For his tools.

  15. This doesn’t strike me as a book to be ousted. I agree with Brenda. Read Mitford’s book and you might not think the subject of this one is that funny.

  16. I can’t remember where, but I remember seeing a news story a few years ago about some guy who stored his wife in a coffin-table! This is one of those subjects that makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but does have the potential of generating some good conversations about death and final wishes. Not sure I’d buy the book without a fairly major section on woodworking or DIY, though. Did you know you can order coffins through Costco?

  17. I have to wonder if this is legal. Would the funeral home and cemetery allow this? I dare someone to call and ask!

  18. Good find! Is it only a coincidence that you posted this after the recent New York Times article, Home Burials Offer an Intimate Alternative?

  19. There’s a guy in a nearby town who makes custom coffins. A local newspaper had a great article about him several years ago… he claimed most of his customers were using their coffins as coffee tables or wardrobes.

    And BarbG: at least in NH, funeral homes cannot force you to buy a coffin from them, so you can legal supply your own. My guess is that most states allow it.

  20. Huh. I thought everyone was going to point this out, but I guess it’s just me. I was fascinated by the title because I wanted to know how to train pets to build their own coffins. Dog training AND wood working – THAT’S a useful book!

  21. I worked at Borders for a few years and this book was one of our favorites to look through.

  22. How do you bring this up tastefully to grandma? “So, um, Nana, I was thinking about your birthday present…..and thought you’d like something I made with my own two little hands…” This is the best book ever, and should NEVER be weeded!

  23. BarbG, not only is it not necessary, but forcing a customer to buy the coffin from the cemetery might fall under restriction of trade.

    This book was published the year after the re-issue of Mitford’s book. I have a feeling that wasn’t a coincidence.

  24. Hi mary, I hope you don’t mind that I used your pictures of the book – in return I give a lot of weblinks on the topic at the bottom of my article: http://www.ceiberweiber.at/index.php?type=&area=1&p=articles&id=1344

    I think people should save their money and use descriptions from the internet instead of buying DUY coffin making books. I hope my collection of web resources can help them (I personally am fascinated by the IKEA coffin but I think it was more art work 🙂

  25. I read a series of articles within the last year about do-it-yourself funerals. One in the NYTimes, a couple on the web at life-hacking and dyi websites. This was/is a hot topic in some quarters?

  26. Hi! saw that you visited my site. I saw elsewhere on the web how people make coffins for furniture items so they can get use of their “investment” before being buried in them. Would you help me out and be a part of my “name the coffin” contest? I’d appreciate it.

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