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Plain Pine Box Casket Kit Instructions

Figure 1 - Build this plain pine box casket in less than an hour with this casket kit.

These are instructions for assembling our Plain Pine Box Casket Kit.

NOTICE! These instructions are specific to the version of our casket kit made prior to July, 2021. In July, 2021 we changed the kit to offer two sizes. The kit now comes in standard and large sizes. The instructions for these two sizes are just a little different and the sizes of the panels are different.

Printable instructions (PDF)

Before You Begin

Gather a few helping hands from friends and family. For many, the shared time to assemble a casket for a loved one is a healthy part of the healing experience.

Assembly of this casket kit will take about an hour. Take a few moments before you begin to get familiar with the parts, the assembly steps, and gather a few tools. Review all assembly steps before proceeding with step 1.

It is best to work on a flat, level surface. If you don’t have a large table or workshop, the floor will do. Clear some room where you will have a nice level surface to work and plenty of space.

Lastly, mistakes happen. If you install a rib in the wrong place, don’t panic or get frustrated. The glue has a working time of 5 to 10 minutes, so take a few moments to fix it and everything will look great.

Figure 2 - The kit contains all wood parts and wood screws to assemble a casket.

Kit Contents

  • 2 Lids – 39 ¼” L x 26” W
  • 1 Floor – 76 ½” L x 24 W
  • 2 Sides – 78” L x 16” W
  • 2 Ends – 24” L x 16” W
  • 20 Ribs – 15 ¼” L x 1” (square)
  • 1 Bag Screws – 1-1/2” Combo

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • Drill or power screwdriver
  • Wood glue
  • Woodworking clamps (optional)

Figure 3 - You will need a small bottle of wood glue, a power driver, and a tape measure.

About Rib-style Joinery

This casket kit uses simple wooden ribs for structural integrity and easy assembly. These ribs also allow you to conceal the screw fasteners internally providing a clean, finished look from the outside of the casket. Carefully position the ribs to make it easy to precisely align the panels during assembly. The rib joints get their strength from two sources: glue surface and screws. We use Elmer’s wood glue to provide a superior bond between the ribs and the boards. You need not use very much glue—if the glue squeezes out of the joint then use a little less glue in the next joint. When you secure with screws and glue, position the screws in the center of the rib. The screws provide a tight fit while the glue bonds without requiring clamps.

For a metal-free casket, the screws can be removed after the glue sets (2-4 hours). Consider reinforcing all panel joints with wooden dowels or Miller dowels.

Figure 4 - To make assembly easier, start the screws in the ribs before beginning. Be sure to align them in the center of each rib to avoid splitting.

About Hi-lo Screws

This kit uses about 100 metal screws with a combo drive head for either Phillips or a #2 Square drive bit. These screws have self-tapping About Hi-Lo Metal Screws hi-lo threads designed to provide superior pull-out strength, are easier to drive than conventional screws, and reduce splitting and cracking of the wood. Do not overtighten these screws. You can stop driving the screw when the washer head makes contact with the wood surface.

Step 1: Attach Ribs to Panels

Start with the End panels (short sides) that measure 24 by 16 inches. Place one rib on each 16-inch side. These vertical ribs secure the corners where the long and short sides meet. Align the ribs flush with the top edge of the End panel—this will be the top edge of the casket. The bottom edge will have a ¾ inch gap to fit the floor. Be sure to run a bead of glue on each rib before placing it.

Figure 5 - Apply a bead of wood glue to each rib just before attaching them.

Figure 6 - While aligning the ribs flush with the top edge of the End panel, it can be helpful to use a block to keep them aligned on the side edge.

Next, use a straight edge to place a rib along the bottom edge of the End and Side panels. These ribs will secure the floor. Place the ribs precisely 5/8 inches from the bottom edge. This will align the floor such that it is 1/8 inch proud. This ensures that while the casket is moved and displayed, the outside lower edge is protected.

Figure 7 - Use the jig included to place ribs 5/8 inch from the bottom of the casket.

Step 2: Attach End Panels to Side Panels

Start with one long Side panel and lay flat on your level work surface. Attach a short End panel to the long Side panel. Be sure the floor ribs are on the bottom edge of both panels. Repeat for the remaining short End panel. Next lay the remaining long Side panel on the work surface.

Figure 8 - An extra set of hands will be helpful to hold the End Panels against the Side Panels while gluing and screwing them together.

Position the other three sides on top of the remaining long Side panel and attach with glue and screws. Align the sides for a nice flush outside corner. If you don't have a helper, use clamps to secure the sides in place. This completes the 4 sides of the box.

Figure 9 - Be sure to get help keeping the corners aligned flush.

Step 3: Attach the Floor

Place the 4 sides of the casket upside down and lay a bead of glue on all 8 ribs that will secure the floor. Place the floor flat on your work surface. If the floor is warped, place on the table with the warped side down so the floor does not rock.

Figure 10 - Flip the box upside-down and place a bead of glue on the underside of all the ribs in preparation for flipping it back on to the floor.

Next, flip the 4 sides of the casket over and place on top of the floor. If the floor is warped, get a few helping hands or some clamps to push down on the sides until the floor is flat. Secure with 3 more screws in each floor rib.

Figure 11 - Flip the box over on to the casket bottom. 

Figure 12 - Put 3 screws in each floor rib. Be sure not to over-tighten the screws!

Step 4: Attach Ribs to the Casket Lids 

There are four ribs for each half of the casket lid. The ribs serve two purposes. First, the ribs help keep the lid in position when placed on the casket box. Second, the ribs will help prevent the casket lid from warping under the influence of humidity and temperature changes in your environment. It is very important not to use glue to secure the ribs to the lid. Use screws only. If building a metal-free casket, then use glue and dowels to join the ribs to the casket, but do not use glue between the rib and the lid panel.

Position the ribs as shown. Place the outside ribs in the center of the panel and 1-1/4 inches from the outside edge. The remaining 3 ribs should be evenly spaced and placed no less than 1- 1/8 inches from the outside edges.

Figure 13 - Place the outside lid ribs 1.25 inches from the edge. REMEMBER - DO NOT USE GLUE ON THE LID RIBS!


Figure 14 - Position the ribs on the lids as shown. These will keep the lids in place and prevent warping.

Lastly, set the lids on the box and you have a completed casket!

Figure 15 - Be sure to sit back and admire your work before you move on to finishing and handles!

Optional Upgrades

Customize your casket with handles

This plain pine box kit does not include handles. There are many different options to choose from. Popular options for this casket include thick cotton rope handles, bale handles, and swing bar handles with wood dowels.



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