There are a number of artisans who offer do-it-yourself coffin and casket kits. You can order a kit online and receive your casket kit via UPS or FedEx in a few business days. Here is a list of our favorite casket kits as we've reviewed them for quality, environmental impact, and cost.
This century-old family owned business in Canada offers a variety of caskets and casket kits. Their flagship casket kit, The Socrates, boasts a zero-metal fastener design with dove-tail wood joinery and an arched lid. While one of the more costly of all the casket kits we've found this is a fine casket and still at a fraction of the cost of a typical wooden or steel casket available at your local funeral home.
Back in 1995, I attended the funeral of a well-loved gentleman who spent his 85-plus years living in the same modest country home where he grew up. He was a craftsman, skilled with wood, stone and soil, frugal as old-timers often are and simple in his tastes. But when I went to pay my last respects, I thought I'd somehow walked into the wrong funeral parlor. His coffin was huge, streamlined, made of shiny blue fiberglass and sporting more-than-ample fake gold hardware. It looked like something designed in a NASA wind tunnel. I learned later that this space-pod-to-eternity had cost $5,000, and that was the biggest shock of all. I couldn't have been any more surprised if my old friend had leaped out of the coffin wearing a silver jumpsuit and sequined go-go boots.
But coffins don't have to contradict the life of the person whose body they contain. You can make a wooden coffin yourself (or hire a woodworker) ? it?s really very easy. Besides saving a bundle of money, making a coffin can reflect and celebrate the life of a specific person, providing a reminder of happy things at a time when sadness holds the upper hand. The best coffins are joyful epitaphs in wood. Several coffin plans exist in the image gallery to help get you started on making a homemade casket.
Advanced woodworkers may want to build a coffin from solid wood, and the drawings in the image gallery show you how to proceed. But if you don't have the tools or advanced skills to build the solid wood casket, you can use hardwood veneer plywood, following the same coffin plans. Regardless of the approach you choose, building a coffin is engaging, well within the reach of those with moderate skills, and a great way to be reminded of the need to live well now. Take it from me, there's nothing like building your own casket to be powerfully reminded of your own mortality.
I'm focusing on coffin plans with hardwood veneered plywood for two reasons. First, it makes this project easier than using solid wood, opening the handmade coffin option to more people. It also eliminates the need for equipment-intensive operations like milling and edge-gluing, while making the most frugal use of high-grade hardwood forest resources. Veneered plywood also is widely available and economical compared to many sources of solid wood.
If you build a coffin for a particular person, make the inside dimensions about 4 inches wider than the shoulder span and 5 inches longer than standing height.
Read more: Homemade Caskets: You Can Make a Coffin
During the spring and summer months, when no Liberty Caps are available, Oregonians can use another variety of psilocybin mushroom in the genas Panaeolus. It is easily collected in quantity on piles of rotting hay in manured cow fields in the Willamette Valley, where most of the population of the state lives. This mushroom, although small, is twice as fleshy as the Liberty Cap, yet the dose is the same: 20 mushrooms. That is to say, the Panaeolus is less potent. Moreover, the quality of its effect is not as good. Particularly when fresh it tends to produce symptoms of toxicity. Some persons experience nausea with it; I get a peculiar and uncomfortable restlessness for an hour after eating it. The toxicity is reduced on drying but not eliminated. And the Panaeolus is less effective at triggering visual spectacles. Nonetheless it is a popular mushroom during the warm months.
One of the more powerful woodland species of Psilocybe is P. baeocystis, which occurs throughout western Oregon and Washington. It is a larger mushroom than the Liberty Cap, and two caps may be sufficient for a strong experience. Last fall p. baeocystis turned up in large numbers on the mulch under rhododendron bushes in a municipal park in the middle of Eugene. It was collected and used by many people. Just before Christmas a bookstore here in Tucson was offering them for sale at $1.50 each ("Limit; 12 to a customer"). They were advertised as "Psilocybin mushrooms from Eugene, Oregon," and sold out in a few days. Other species have been turning up in unusual places. A species that may be Psilocybe cyanescens, related to the derrumbe ("landslide") mushroom of Oaxaca, began growing heavily on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle in the fall of 1973. Word of it got out quickly, and students began eating it to the consternation of University officials. The mushroom appeared to be spreading by way of a bark mulch used by the buildings and grounds crew; at least, each time a new area of the campus was mulched, it came up in great numbers.
During a trip to Washington State last October I found this mushroom growing abundantly on a lawn in front of a commercial nursery just south of the state capital at Olympia, It was first discovered there by an Oregon collector now living near Olympia who was taking his laundry to a Laundromat next to the nursery and noticed the mushrooms on the lawn. He tried them and confirmed their activity. They are lovely, chestnut-brown, fleshy mushrooms that readily turn blue (cyanescens means "blue-turning") and have a persistent annulus or veil around the upper stipe, an unusual character in this genus. Some users call them "Washington Blue Veils" and rate them as strong as the Liberty Caps. They grow in clusters, the stipes arising from a common point. When 1 first met up with them, I recognized them at once as the mushrooms I saw in the visions of my first Liberty Cap experience.
I had a chat with the owner of the nursery about his lawn. He had not failed to notice large numbers of young people, especially students from nearby Evergreen State College, crawling about on his property picking mushrooms. "Sometimes it gets so bad, I have to turn the sprinklers on to get rid of them," he complained. I explained to him what the mushrooms were, assured him that no one could get hurt with them, and got permission to collect specimens for identification. He told me his staff had prepared hundreds of similar lawns all over Olympia using the same mulch and manure. It was Indian Summer in Washington, too, with almost no mushrooms anywhere. Heavy sprinkling had brought them up in front of the nursery. But next fall, when the rains will probably come as usual, Psilocybe cyanescens may well turn up all over the state capital. . . .
The essence of the revolution in consciousness occurring all about us is the emergence of unconscious forces long denied by our culture and the beginnings of attempts to integrate them into the fabric of our individual and social lives. Mushrooms are external symbols of those forces and their invasion of our outward lives is a dramatic and encouraging sign of the progress of this great change,