Hand-Made Urn for My Dad.





Introduction: Hand-Made Urn for My Dad.

About: Married father of 5 (4 boys and 1 girl). A Captain in the Fire Department with over 25 years of service. Grew up turning wrenches at my fathers garage. That turned into a love of building things with my hands.

My Father passed away this summer rather unexpectedly. This was the man who taught me how to work with my hands and find the joy in doing so. Rather than buy some ugly urn from the funeral home, I told my siblings that I would make the each a custom urn for Papa. I'm building them in birth order. So, this one is my sisters.

Step 1: The Actual "Urn".

I scored some Harley piston chambers from a friend who works with motorcycles. My father was a mechanic. He owned a rather successful towing and repair shop here locally. So I figured I had to incorporate something "motor" into his urn. He was a big motorcycle fan in his younger years too.

Step 2: The Container Placement.

I wanted the bottle holding Pop to be secure. More importantly, it shouldn't move if the piston is tilted. Using 3/4 red oak stock, I traced the bottle out. I then cut the bulk of material in the circle using Forstner bit. After that, I placed it on the lathe and cleaned it up. I drilled counter sunk holes in the bottom of the piston chamber to hold the glass bottle cup in place securely.

Step 3: Piston Chamber Lid.

I was going to originally use an actual valve cover from a motorcycle. But the more I thought about it, it would be way cooler to make something on my own. Something unique. I had a hard time at first figuring out how to make sure the lid was secure. I didn't want any exposed hardware, since the chamber is aluminum I couldn't use magnets. But! Once poked around with one I found the actually, the piston wall was steel. Now, a lot of you are saying "no kidding"...and that's pretty much how I felt too. Duh..once the oak was traced, cut and shaped I traced out the piston wall and sunk the magnets so they contacted the steel of the piston wall. This would work great If it never moved. Mine won't. So I made those two plastic sleeves to recess into two of the push-rod holes for added measure. I also made a cap for the bottle. One where the handle of the bottle sits into. I placed magnets on the side to help hold the bottle securely.

Step 4: The Box.

Since my Dad was such a hard working man, I figured his urn should have a job too. So, I made it a display box that doubles as a secret storage container as well. One where Sis could store her mementos of dad all together in one place. I came up with this idea when I finished roughing the base (now a box) and I realized 10"x 10" x 5 1/4" was a really large base. I didn't want to cut it down because it came out so well.

On a side note. They just opened up a Rockler Woodworking store close to me. I went to the grand opening and bought this box joint jig they have. Man, I tell you. You have to get one. It made making the box joints a breeze. I actually made the box in a day. And this is the first box joint I've ever done that didn't look like high school wood shop. There's a couple of guys showing it in action on you tube. The Australian guy was the best.

Step 5: The Secret Latch...

I came up with a pretty neat way of latching the box closed. I used this spring hinge I had leftover from a previous project. I flipped it around so it would push and not pull. Using a router I made a recessed pocket on the front that would act like a ornate name plate, I used a piece of thin marble I had and epoxied a thin piece of oak to the back. I trimmed it square and then went to work on the latching part.

Step 6: Latching Mechanism.

This proved to be the most difficult. The latch is just aluminum C channel set opposing. When you push the marble latch in, it causes the lid to be free to lift. For whatever reason, I lacked the brain power to get theses lined up properly. It took several grinding sessions for the marble latch to bed flush. Once I got that, I disassembled everything and went to seal the box. During that process I had the bright idea to paint all the C channel. I didn't realize how precise I had got it on the rough in because the paint threw it all off. I took it all apart again..sanded all the paint off...it didn't line up once more...took me several hours of grinding to finally get it to close flush on the front. I'm not sure why this was so difficult. If you have any ideas, I'm all ears.

Step 7: Top and Bottom.

I lined the bottom with felt to make it look finished. The bottom of the box and the bottom of the lid are 1/2 oak. I used #20 biscuits to recess the bottom a bit. I used a router on the 1/2 oak on the lid to make a recess pocket for the part of the piston chamber that stuck through the lid. I didn't want it to be seen when you lifted it. I notched that as well, I used that to make a stop for the marble latch. That way you can only push it in so far. I also used spring hinges to assist with opening and closing the lid. That piston chamber weighs over 9lbs!

Step 8: Final.

I just took a bunch of picks here. I laid a square next to it if you want true measurements. The box was built out of 3/4 red oak planking. Thanks for looking. If you have questions, send them my way.



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    If you provide the piston chamber and don't want it to open (see the other one I made) I could make one for $200. If you want it to open, $250. If you want me to provide the piston chamber (they're hard to find) $350.

    If you provide the piston chamber and don't want it to open (see the other one I made) I could make one for $200. If you want it to open, $250. If you want me to provide the piston chamber (they're hard to find) $350.

    I would love to have one for my father. his urn broke and I need a new one. What would you charge?

    A beautiful urn and tribute to your dad. You've inspired me to me to get off my butt build one for my mother. We lost her Christmas morning 2012..thank you for putting it out there.

    Quite a thoughtful tribute.

    I'm sure that he'd have appreciated it.

    I actually had two piston chambers. The black one pictured and the "diamond cut" one used on this project. I forgot to take a pic of both of them. Since I was done, I just took a picture of the one I had left. I also cleaned them with parts cleaned and then wire brushed all the carbon off. I haven't brushed the black and silver chamber yet.

    Beautiful tribute to your dad, my condolences on your loss. One quick question about the cylinder, did you have it cleaned up by sand blasting it? I noticed in the earlier photos it was some what dirty and the finished piece it nice and clean.

    This is beautiful work! And what a wonderful tribute to your dad. :)

    what a beautiful work! My prayers are with you and your family.

    regards from Argentina

    Fantastic job. A wonderful memorial, and beautifully executed.

    An amazing project and one I'm sure anybody's dad would love and appreciate.


    Brother, this is the most amazing thing I've ever owned. You made me cry. I am so proud of your talents and I know Dad was too. I can't believe we lost him so fast, definitely the southpaw of the summer and its all so fresh and painful. I can't think of a better resting place for a gearhead like him and it's gonna make me smile when I see that urn on the mantle. Thank you and I love ya! - Sis

    Bless you and your family. Your father is proud of you, I am sure.

    Very inspiring mister!
    Your father will be looking down at you right now and tell everybody up there what a great man you are!

    Bless you man! This is beautiful!!!

    My pop passed away the year before last and my mom this past year.

    I have a Masonic theme urn to make for pop, and a crafty one to make for my mom.

    Looks really good and a great way to celebrate your fathers life by showing what he loved to do