Are you a fan of American westerns? If so, you probably know what it means when a gunslinger says it is time to cut down an old pine tree. This means that someone is about to die, and the wood from the pine tree will be used to make a coffin.
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Pine coffins have been around a lot longer than the 1800s. Pine has been used for coffins in America since the colonial era. The tree was abundant, and it became the common material for casket building.
Even if you associate the phrase “old pine box” with a bygone era, family members can still choose this simple material for modern caskets. Let’s learn about pine box caskets, how they differ from other casket materials, how much they cost, and the different types.
What’s a Pine Box Casket?
A pine box casket is made from the wood of a pine tree.
If your loved one wishes to be buried in a pine box casket, this usually means that they want a simple, no-frills, and environmentally friendly coffin. Most people who request a pine casket would expect that this would be one of the least expensive types of caskets available, even though that may not be the case.
The pine tree can be seen all over the world. Since it grows during the winter, it’s a symbol of longevity and eternity.
Difference between metal, wood, and pine box caskets
Caskets are made with a wide variety of materials. Some of the most durable caskets are made of steel or stainless steel. These durable caskets are rated by gauge, with a 16-gauge casket being more durable than an 18-gauge casket.
Caskets can also be made of various types of wood. Usually, mahogany, walnut, and cherry caskets are more expensive than those made of oak, birch, or maple. Typically, the least costly caskets are made of willow, poplar, and pine.
Pine caskets are some of the lightest coffins available. You can estimate that a pine coffin will weigh 43 pounds for every cubic foot compared with mahogany or cherry, which weighs up to 56 pounds per cubic foot. How much the casket weighs may be helpful if you are concerned whether the chosen pallbearers are strong enough to move the coffin after the service.
How Much Do Pine Box Caskets Usually Cost?
Pine caskets can vary in cost, between $1,000 and $3,000. The price depends on the materials used and the quality of the lining. Pine caskets built by hand by master craftsmen may also be higher in price.
Even though pine caskets are known for being inexpensive, you may be able to find less expensive options, such as cloth-covered fiberboard caskets or wicker basket caskets.
Main Types of Pine Box Caskets
Are you interested in prepurchasing a pine box casket for yourself? Has your loved one always told you that he or she wished to be buried in this modest type of coffin? Regardless, here are some types of pine caskets to consider.
1. Unfinished pine box casket
Unfinished pine box caskets do not have any stain added to the outside or inside. They are typically light in color, and they may have a fabric (cotton, silk, velvet, or satin) liner or may be left unlined.
Some companies will line an unfinished pine casket with a blanket or piece of material important to the deceased.
2. Finished pine casket
A pine casket can be finished with a transparent stain. Usually, the clear stain brings out some of the nuances of the wood grain. The stain can also add a shine to the casket. A shinier casket gives you a gloss stain and a less glossy option would be a satin-stained finish.
You can also purchase a pine casket that has a darker stain.
3. Hand-rubbed casket
You will see some casket purveyors advertise that their product is hand-rubbed.
This means that the casket has been polished to a very smooth surface by hand instead of by a machine. Artisans typically advertise that their products are hand-rubbed as a source of pride.
4. Amish pine casket
Most people know about the traditional Amish way of life. Their practice of not using electricity does not prevent them from making wooden furniture and caskets. In fact, people prefer purchasing Amish-made pieces because the label equates with high-quality craftsmanship.
Not every Amish-made piece is actually made by the Amish, though. Although the Amish live throughout the country, most furniture comes from Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio.
5. Simple pine box
The Amish aren’t the only ones selling simple pine caskets. Other companies make bare pine boxes for burial.
You may be interested in finding a company that boasts being able to have a negative carbon footprint. One manufacturer says it plants 100 seedlings for every tree it uses to make a casket.
6. Eco-friendly casket
Not every pine casket is environmentally friendly. For the casket to fully disintegrate, it can’t be made with any metal or treated wood. There are quite a few companies now that specialize in this type of casket. Look for ones made with wooden screws or a tongue-and-groove style construction.
Some people who choose an eco-friendly burial do not have their loved ones embalmed. The embalming process is completed by injecting the body full of chemicals. This chemical residue seeps into the ground as the body disintegrates.
7. Kosher caskets
Some sects of Orthodox Jews encourage the faithful only to bury the dead in kosher caskets. “Kosher” usually describes food but it is also used to describe something that is “clean” or “fit.”
Kosher caskets are made without any metal or plastics. They are fully biodegradable and great care is also taken with the type of casket liner placed inside. The casket is constructed with pegs or dowels and only biodegradable glue is used.
8. Pine coffin
Although the words “coffin” and “casket” are usually interchangeable, some people refer to a rectangular box as a “casket.” A coffin, however, is tapered in at the head and sometimes the legs as well.
While most modern caskets are rectangular, some people who choose an “old pine box” for burial may prefer to purchase a coffin that looks like those in Western movies.
9. Build-your-own pine casket
Don’t be startled by the “build-your-own” header! Some people like the idea of taking care of this piece of business before they die. Several companies are available that will help you through the coffin-building process. They provide materials and plans.
You may also choose to build a casket for a loved one. Although it is not the typical practice in the United States, other cultures across the world take great satisfaction in preparing their loved ones’ bodies for burial. Most Americans would prefer to leave that task to professionals but many find comfort in making a casket or even digging the hole for the grave.
10. Engraved pine casket
Some families choose to personalize a loved one’s casket. They can do so by adding the name of the individual and birth and death dates.
Most companies that offer casket engraving can add religious symbols or nature images to the casket as well.
11. Knotty pine casket
Some people prefer wood that has many knots scattered across the surface. This look is fashionable in cabins and ski lodges. It can also be used as material for a casket.
12. Rope-handled pine caskets
Whether you prefer the look of rope handles on a casket or wish to use the design to be friendly to the environment, many casket companies now offer fully biodegradable hemp handles.
Other Thoughts When Choosing a Casket
When you’re in mourning, you may not make the same decisions that you would have made at a less emotional time. Because of this, some families purchase a more expensive casket to honor a deceased loved one. While there is certainly nothing wrong with buying an elaborate or highly decorative casket, you may think back to conversations you may have had with the person when planning a funeral.
If your loved one often said that he or she would prefer to be buried in an old pine box, do not feel that you are tarnishing your loved one’s memory by going through with the purchase. In fact, you are showing honor to your loved one by following his or her final wishes.
- “Pine Tree: Symbolism and Meaning.” treesymbolism.com/pine-tree-symbolism-meaning.html