Student builds coffin

Not too many people contemplate the idea of building a coffin or casket for themselves or one of their family, but that is what Matthew Hendicott did back in 2004.

It is a heart warming story that has probably been repeated many times before and since. But most people think that building a coffin or casket is beyond their expertise and/or the funeral industry would not accept it.  Neither is true.

Matthew built his coffin as part of his Higher School Certificate industrial technology project.  It had a special significance in that it was build for his then 74 year-old Nanna, Suzanne Field.  The story goes that she used it as a coffee table until the time came to use it for what it was built for. It was a fancy piece of woodwork that deserved being preserved for many years.

Considering it was constructed from solid timber – unlike most of the modern coffins made from chipboard, veneered to look like real wood – it is a shame the family didn’t demand of the funeral industry that it become a family piece of furniture that could be re-used. This is the case in other countries like the USA and the UK.  And renting a coffin is acceptable elsewhere and should be the case in Australia.

From the initial drawings to the finished product it took eight months.  It was a labour of love and it received wide media attention with reports in the Newcastle Herald (Grandsons’s gift an afterlife highlight, Gabriel Fowler, 08.09.2004, page 3), That’s Life magazine and a news story on NBN-television.

If you have a story about a family built coffin, please post it here.

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