LOCAL NEWS

Woodworking Hobby Turns Into Coffin Business For Provo Man

Oct 18, 2019, 10:43 PM
...

PROVO, Utah — At a time of year when thoughts turn to ghosts and ghouls and vampires, a coffin, understandably, might seem a little scary.

Creating that coffin or casket out of simple planks of wood, however, is a process that can actually be quite sentimental and introspective, according to Michael Scheetz.

“It’s helped me have that examination of what I want in my life, how short it might be, how long it might be, what am I going to do,” he said as he stood in the middle of his two-story workshop located behind his house.

Scheetz chanced upon the craft of coffin construction more than a decade ago.

“A coworker was making preparations for his mother,” Scheetz recalled. “His mom was 95 at the time and he knew that I loved woodworking and he said, ‘hey, could you make a cedar coffin for my mom?’ I had never done anything like that before.”

Scheetz made a cedar coffin with hinged lids and a lining on the inside.

“It turned out gorgeous,” Scheetz said. “I was displaying old-fashioned woodworking at a colonial event, and behind me, I had the coffin on display and it just got so much interest that people were asking for my number and wondering how much I charged and it just rolled from there. I was getting more calls and more requests for simple pine box caskets.”

Within a year-and-a-half, Scheetz had a business.

The Craft Of Coffin-Making

Today, he offers traditional wooden caskets through American Handcrafted Caskets and Coffins.

His wife, Wanda, designs and picks the linings.

“I had different ideas of how to do it,” she said. “I wanted to do it more how like you would do upholstery.”

Wanda Scheetz said the couple often tries to incorporate the person’s life into the end product.

“We’ve put fishing rods on some, golf clubs,” she said.

In one case, Scheetz said a woman liked her cherry red car so much, she wanted her casket to match.

Scheetz obliged and made a casket modeled after the car.

While most of his business involves families with immediate or near-future needs, Scheetz said about one-third of his customers are looking for caskets and coffins for the long-term, or even for decoration.

One client bought a casket with shelves inside to place next to a piano in a parlor.

Another purchased two caskets to house food storage and camping gear.

Coffins & Connection

Scheetz said the process can become surprisingly personal.

The couple tries to get to know the families and people for whom the coffins and caskets are intended.

“It’s more meaningful when I cut or carve or grind or sand, I know who this is going to be for and it’s important for me to do a good job,” Scheetz said. “After the event, we make sure to make a copy of the obituary and we read it as a family.”

Through the process, Scheetz has forged connections he never expected to make.

“I didn’t bargain for that,” he said. “It’s been an amazing experience.”

Now retired from his other job as a water worker, his casket and coffin business has led him to contemplate his own mortality.

He said he’ll probably make his own casket someday.

“I think about it more,” Scheetz said. “I think it’s a way for me to leave my mark and I’m learning that, for me, leaving a mark is important.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Salt Lake City police responding to a shooting at the Downtown West apartment complex. (SLC PD)...
Michael Houck & Lauren Steinbrecher

One person in critical condition after shooting at Salt Lake City apartment complex

Salt Lake City police are investigating a shooting with several people detained Sunday evening. 
1 day ago
Layton police responding to a barricaded suspect in an apartment building. (Courtesy: Phoenix Antho...
Michael Houck

SWAT arrest fugitive who hid in an Layton apartment complex

A wanted fugitive is in police custody after hiding out in a Layton apartment complex Sunday afternoon.
1 day ago
Guest Haus, one of the six businesses, taking part of the recycling pilot program....
Shelby Lofton

Park City introduces reusable food container pilot program

Tossed food take-out containers could be a thing of the past for Park City as it's launching a pilot program that reimagines the doggie bag.
1 day ago
The three car crash, causing roads to be blocked on SR-36. (Courtesy: Colleen Shuman)...
Michael Houck

Three vehicle crash closes portion of SR-36, one person flown to hospital

One person has serious injuries after a crash caused a trailer to flip and strike another vehicle Sunday afternoon.
1 day ago
Wildlife officials responding to the cougar incident....
Michael Houck & Lauren Steinbrecher

Trail runner hurt by cougar in Millcreek Canyon, DWR found and euthanized the animal

A runner was hurt by a cougar after accidentally into it on a trail in Millcreek Canyon.
1 day ago
Paraglider crashed into mountain and was hoisted to the U of U in critical condition....
Brooke Williams

Life Flight responds to critical condition paragliding crash up Olympus Cove Sunday

Paraglider crashed into mountain and was hoisted by Life Flight to the U of U in critical condition.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Woodworking Hobby Turns Into Coffin Business For Provo Man