How to Make Wooden Cremation Urns

The loss of a loved one is a sad, traumatic time. You may find that creating a wooden urn to hold your loved one's final remains a good and therapeutic way to process your grief. Local and state regulations about storing the remains of the deceased must be considered. Funeral parlors can provide a sealed cremation niche, which can then be stored in the urn of your choice. The most important aspects to consider in creating an urn are what the deceased would have liked and how to artistically express your care for them in this final act.

Things You'll Need

  • Two eight 7/8 inch-by-141/2 inch-by-seven 1/4 inch pieces of Cherry wood (front and back pieces)

  • Two eight 7/8 inch-by-eight 7/8 inch-by-seven 1/4 inch pieces of Rosewood (side pieces)

  • One eight 7/8 inch-by-14 1/2 inch-by-two inch thick piece of Rosewood (lid)

  • One eight 7/8 inch-by-14 1/2 inch-by-two inch thick piece of Cherry wood (bottom)

  • Box joint jig

  • Router

  • Portable router table

  • 1/4 inch router bit

  • Safety glasses

  • Wood burning tool

  • Medium grade sandpaper

  • Fine grade sandpaper

  • Light stain designed to bring out the natural color of fine wood

  • Varnish

  • Two clean cotton cloths

  • Tape measure

  • Pencil

  • Wood glue

  • Small paint brush

  • Hammer

  • Eight two and 1/2 inch copper nails

  • Two matching antique ornamental box hinges and matching screws/nails

  • One antique box latch (that is similar to or matches the hinges)

  • Screwdriver (if needed)

  • Large piece of cloth

  • Hot glue gun

  • Scissors

Step 1

Measure and cut six matching one inch box joints into the front, back and side pieces of the cremation urn using the box joint jig.

Step 2

Paint a thin layer of wood glue in between each wood joint and assemble the box, pushing the box joints into place. Clamp each corner and set aside to dry fully for 48 hours.

Step 3

Set up the portable router table and router with the 1/4 inch router bit. Carefully use the router to round the front, right and left sides of the eight 7/8 inch-by-14 1/2 inch-by-two inch thick piece of Rosewood which will make the lid.

Step 4

Attach the eight 7/8 inch-by-14 1/2 inch-by-two inch thick piece of Cherry wood bottom to the dry and box jointed side pieces of the urn by evenly spacing out the copper nails around the perimeter of the box and nailing the bottom into place.

Step 5

Sand the edges of the box and lid with first medium grade sandpaper and then again with fine grade sandpaper.

Step 6

Burn a design, name or other personal motive into the lid of the urn using the wood burning tool. Sand the lid again with fine grade sandpaper.

Step 7

Stain the entire box and lid using your choice of light stain and a clean cloth. Set aside and allow to dry overnight.

Step 8

Varnish the outside of the box and entire lid using your choice of varnish and a clean cloth. Set aside and allow to fully dry.

Step 9

Cut your piece of cloth to roughly fit the inside of the urn. You might consider using a favorite piece of clothing or a favored blanket or a velvet in the favorite color of the deceased for this portion of the project. Once the urn box is completely dry, tuck and fold it into the container of the urn so that it fits loosely into the four corners. Carefully tuck under the rough edges of the fabric and hot glue it into place to create the liner for the urn.

Step 10

Attach the hinge and latch hardware to the box and lid per the instructions on the packaging. And, finally attach the lid to the box. Your urn is now ready to use.


This box is designed to hold an estimated five to six pounds of human remains. Please consult with your local mortuary prior to beginning construction on this urn to determine if a size adjustment is needed.


Children should not use power tools unsupervised. Please use appropriate safety equipment when using power tools. Please use varnish and stains in a well ventilated area.

References & Resources

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