How to Make Your Own Cremation Urn

With the rising cost of funerals and premium price tags at funeral homes, the two most affordable options are shopping for a cremation urn online and making one yourself. Unless you are burying the urn at a cemetery or storing the urn in a columbarium (either of these options may have specific requirements for the urn), you are free to use any container you see fit to hold the remains. This can be as simple as a coffee can or a few cool whip containers, or as intricate of a custom made piece as you can create. Here are a few ideas for how to make your own cremation urn.

Make Your Own Wood Cremation Urn

How to make your own cremation urn

Doug Stove has a fine tutorial walking you through the step to build your own wood cremation urn. He writes,

You may think of an urn as being more like a vase, but according to all things Google, a box can be an urn, too! Many of the wooden boxes available for purchase could be described as cheesy at best. So I designed this simple lift lid box to contain the plastic box housing the ashes of the husband of a friend. The sides are 9/16 in. thick walnut and the top and is curly ash. The corners are mitered and keyed with the same ash used for the top. The bottom panel is 1/4 in. Baltic birch plywood, glued in place to give the box additional strength.

You can follow the tutorial here.

Make Your Own Ceramic Cremation Urn

Studio Pottery With Kris Neal #4 – Make a Jar w/Lid from Kris Neal. This video shows you how to craft a hand-spun vessel with a lid. While YouTube and Vimeo are filled to the brim with instructions on making hand-spun ceramics, this one stands out from the rest because it teaches you how to create an attractive lid. When making a cremation urn, the lid is important as you do not want the interior to be easily accessible. This is well-filmed and easy-to-follow tutorial which will help you with your DIY cremation urn.

DIY Simple Wood Box Urn

How to make your own cremation urn

AJ Moses at the Woodworker’s Guild of America has written a very easy tutorial on how to build a simple yet classical-style wood box urn. This DIY cremation urn tutorial excels in showing you how to make sure you build the urn to the correct volume.

DIY Upcycled Embossed Metal Keepsake Urn

This tutorial is for a smaller box, since it is made out of a soda can.  Smaller urns are known as “keepsake urns” and are intented for holding a small amount of remains. These are useful when sharing the cremated remains among relative, or when the majority is buried. The keepsake urn tutorial above is for a rather lovely DIY embossed metal box.

Make Your Own Paper Mache Cremation Urn

DIY Cremation UrnIf you are planning on a sea burial for the remains, using a biodegradable cremation urn is both eco-friendly and wind-proof, allowing you to scatter at sea without having to pour out the remains. A simple and hand-on solution is to make your own paper mache cremation urn. This DIY paper mache tutorial shows how to make an oval shape using a balloon base. When you’re done, pour in the remains and then paper over the the top opening. The resulting homemade paper mache urn will be biodegradable for use in burial at sea or in the ground.

28 thoughts on “How to Make Your Own Cremation Urn”

  1. Thank you for this article… I never thought I would be looking for this information at my age but now that I am I am so glad its available.

  2. I am a diabetic and have gotten some very bad news. Which has me considering this. Your article states a cemetery had rules for burying an urn. What are they generally? Also how difficult is it to make one for someone who has next to no wood or metal working skills? Oh thank you for the information you have on this site. It is very helpful.

  3. Hi Ronald,

    Thanks for your question. Most cemeteries generally require a burial vault, which holds and protects the urn. The reason for this is that they don’t want the ground to cave in over time, and the burial vault prevents that from happening. But you’ll have to check with the specific cemetery to see what their requirements are to be safe.


  4. Want to have a cherry wood heart shape which locks together as halves as urns . Who should I contact. For my brother and his wife

  5. I need help with either finding or making basically a glass or metal urn but I need it to loo like the san fransico skyline its very important if you have any ideas please let me know

  6. Hi Beth,

    Silicone is often a good choice, because if you ever need to open the urn for any reason silicone is easier to get off. Otherwise, whatever bonding agent works best with the material: wood glue for wood, two-part epoxy for ceramics, etc.

    I hope this helps!

  7. My step father is going to make my ash box can u tell me what the diametions would have to be
    I weight or will weigh 160lbs
    My boy dog weighs 75 lbs
    I have ashes from a 55lb boxer to come with me and i would say roughly 4cups of ashes which are of my 2 other dogs that have passed and already cremated. .they have already told me they would put us all together. .my male dog will be cremated with me..i hope u can give me all the diametions

  8. Hi Kim,

    From your comments, you’ll need an interior capacity of 350 cubic inches. I’d do a little more – say 400 cubic inches. If you’d like a traditional rectangular box, you could aim for inside dimensions measuring about 9″ wide by about 6.5″ high and 7″ deep. Multiply the dimensions together to get how many cubic inches it will hold… in this case, 9 x 6.5 x 7 equals 409.5 cubic inches, which should give you plenty of room based on what you’ve mentioned. You can adjust the dimensions up or down to suit your needs or your design.

    I hope this helps!


  9. Hi Lisa,

    Yes, it is ok to do just about anything you like. However, you will want to contact the cemetery to see if they will allow a DIY urn vault (if you are burying the urn).

  10. Yes you can! Easiest way would be to line the boot with a plastic bag, then pour the remains inside and tie off the plastic bag with a twist tie.

  11. I like the idea of the urn and enclosed ashes biodegrading in the earth.

    So would need to consider a material which will disintegrate over time.

    Do you have any suggestions, please.

  12. I have my son’s ashes in a plain wooden box. Are there any rules that would prevent me from decorating the outside of the box with pictures before it is interred, if it is tastefully done?


  13. Hi Marsha, of course you can do that! Decorating the urn yourself is a wonderful idea, very personal. There are no laws or rules against it.

  14. Really great blog! Thank you so much. I want to make a papier mache floating (dissolving) urn, but my question is regarding the thickness of the underside of it – the bowl (or boat) shaped underside. I have searched (including the two links you provide for papier mache), but can find nothing on the thickness required for it to dissolve at a reasonable time frame. Any ideas? Thank you.

  15. I’ve never worked with paper mache personally, so I can’t give you specifics other than to say that you will want it to be as thin as possible all around, yet sturdy enough to hold about 4-5 lbs (female) or 6-7 lbs (male) of cremated remains (if you are using all the ashes). The biodegradable urns we sell have uniform thickness. Hope this helps!

  16. I seen your wonderful wooden urns & how to make them, I was wondering if would able to make a urn out of one of my ceramic dolphin? I’ve been surfing the internet but can find any how tons. Thanks

  17. Hi Deb,

    Great idea! If the dolphin is hollow, you could make a hole in it, place the ashes inside, and then fill the hole with a rubber plug or stopper. Or, perhaps easier, you could affix the dolphin to the top of a wood urn, like this one:

    In that case, the urn would serve as a “base” and the dolphin would be like a decorative bust or display on top. Hope this helps!

  18. Hi there,
    I want to make a rocket ship urn for my soul mate and wanted to know if polymer clay would be ok? Would I need to treat the clay with anything once it’s been oven baked?

    Thank you

  19. Hi Sue,

    You can use anything you like, so polymer clay will be perfectly acceptable. I’m no expert on clay, but I would imagine that a clear finish coat will help preserve the piece and keep it looking great for a long time to come.

  20. I had a idea my dad passed away and we thought about somehow making his cowboy boot into a urn anyone know how to do this and ideas

  21. Hi Linda,

    That should be a fairly simple thing, depending on how you want the final memorial to look. I’d take the boot, line it with a plastic bag, then pour the remains inside. Fill it 3/4 to the top. Seal up the bag and push it down a little ways, then you can either make some sort of shaped filler to cover the top (perhaps some sort of bean bag to create a barrier, then a clay or wood “lid” shaped to fit inside the boot), or simply stuff the top with something. That would be the easy, simple, DIY start. You can mount it to a wooden or stone base, or perhaps have someone who works with leather sew a lid or closure to the top of the boot, perhaps a zipper. Lots of options for creativity!

Leave a Comment