Pine Coffins

Coffins versus Caskets

Coffins should not be confused with caskets. Coffins have six sides and refer to any tapered hexagonal or octagonal box used to bury the dead in. In comparison, caskets have four sides. It is a rectangular burial box and sometimes comes with a split lid used for viewing the deceased.

Making Coffins

Coffins are not difficult to make. It all boils down to basic carpentry skills and tools. There are numerous manuals and instructions on the Internet on how to make one. Coffins are typically made out of wood. There are some made of steel, but wooden coffins are more commonly preferred, specifically pine coffins. Why? Well, for one, pine is readily available. Pine is native to the Northern Hemisphere, but it can be found anywhere. Pine wood is normally used in high-value carpentry items such as furniture and of course, coffins.

Why Are Pine Coffins Preferred?

Pine woods make excellent coffins because they are softwood. This makes them easy to work with. They can be carved or cut into different shapes and sizes. Although coffins have a standard shape, their sizes can be amended depending on the body they carry. Pine coffins are also in demand because of their low cost of construction. They are relatively cheap when compared to other softwood coffins like cedar and definitely cheaper than high-quality wood like mahogany. In olden times, parish that pay for the funeral of paupers would typically use the thinnest possible pine to make the coffins because they are cheap.

Admittedly, pine coffins cannot be compared with the quality of steel and teak coffins. However, they are sturdier compared to coffins made of other softwood. This is due to the relatively high strength-to-weight ratio or specific strength of the pine wood. Hence, pine coffins are the smarter choice if one wishes to avoid the embarrassment of having the bottom fall out!

In terms of looks, those who want an expensive-looking coffin but cannot afford the high-end price can be comforted by the fact that a coffin made completely of pure pine wood can seem upscale. Additionally, pine wood blends in easily with various paint colors. This is a plus point for those who wish to be buried or bury their dead in a specific color. Even without a paint job, pine woods are versatile in the sense that they have different shades of colors based on their age.

The environmentally-conscious will definitely find pine coffins to their taste as pine wood is natural and therefore, do not contain any harmful preservatives. This similarity is shared with cardboard coffins, in that they are eco-friendly. However, pine coffins are definitely much sturdier than cardboard ones. There are also biodegradable wooden coffins that 'decompose' along with the body. For cremation purposes, wooden coffins definitely burn easier compared to steel ones.

In their simplest form, pine coffins are not lined or padded. In Amish communities, plain pine coffins are typically used with no padding, handles or adornments. They can be rendered airtight as well, like most wooden coffins, although not as airtight as steel coffins. However, this may help for a cleaner decomposition of the body as bacteria can pass through wood easier and remove noxious decompositional discharge.

The Problem With Pine

On the downside, pine wood can easily get dents and scratches due to its softwood characteristic. This might be a problem to families who are particular about burying their dead in a coffin of perfect conditions. Pine wood also tends to shrink or swell over time depending on its moisture content. This could pose a problem for those who want to make and store their own coffins over a period of time.