The Dale Maley Family Web Site


Wood Urn for Ashes

I was asked by family members to design and build a wood urn for a relative's ashes. I had never built one before, so I searched the Internet to get some ideas on what type of box to build.  The ashes of the relative will be spread on some family timber ground, so the top should be hinged.

I Googled and found out the industry standard in the US for the volume of the ashes is a minimum of 200 cubic inches.  The box design must hold at least 200 cubic inches.

I also saw some wood urns with wood crosses on them...........

Here is my design from Sketchup.........

If possible, I wanted to use corners that could be made from 3/4" thick red oak, versus 1-1/4x 1-1/4" stock.  I have 3/4" thick red oak in stock.  You have a glue joint if you glue up two pieces of 3/4" thick stock and plane it down to the 1.25x1.25 size, which I wanted to avoid.  In Sketchup, I found a design that would work with 1/4" thick oak plywood panels.....

I got the scale of the cross dimensions from the other box above that I found on the Internet.

Router Bit for Lid Edge

I have a lot of bits, but not that many for edge work.  I found one old Craftsman carbide bit, and I exchanged the larger diameter bearing for a smaller one.  This gave me the edge look I wanted on the lid of the box........

Right and Left-hand side panels first

Assembly of the rest of the box

I cut the little tenons using my scroll saw, which worked fine.  Do not use the band saw because you will break the fragile 1/8" thick lip!

I used the wound string and 16 penny nail method to draw up the 4 corners of the bottom decorative molding.

Had to Fix the Pin Nailer

I had almost quit using my pin nailer, because it jammed too often.  I dis-assembled it and found the piston was sticking badly.  I cleaned up the piston, lubricated it with 10W40 motor oil, re-assembled...........and it worked fine.  It really works well for securing the 1/4" decorative molding at the bottom.

Little Maple Cross

I used a carpenters shim or wedge to glue up the 3 pieces of the little cross.  It will be easier to glue this cross assembly to the box, versus trying to get all 3 pieces separately glued and clamped to the box.

I used a tape measure to properly located the small maple cross on the front panel. Once I had it in the proper position, I marked the spot with blue masking tape.  Then I could apply glue to the back of the cross, then properly located it using the masking tape........while I clamped it up..........

Ready to Varnish

Used Golden Oak Stain

I did 2 rounds of 220 grit sanding and clear gloss polyurethane.

I was going to use Behlen's grain filler on the top to make it super smooth, but apparently I used all of it up on previous projects........and never reordered any for inventory. I went ahead and ordered a quart for my inventory for use on future projects.

Finished Wood Urn Box

Closing Comments on This Project

My design using 3/4x3/4 red oak for the corner stiles worked pretty well.  The 1/8" thick lip is fragile, and I broke one using the big band saw to cut the tenons.........but was ok using the scroll saw to cut the tenons. Gluing up the little cross first into one unit versus 3 was a good idea..........and the masking tape method of locating the cross assembly for gluing worked well. I used a wet artist's brush to remove the excess glue in the corners of the cross, and a wet rag to remove the rest.

The relatives were very pleased with the finished wood urn box.