Great Grandma’s Elm Coffin

This is a full-circle Logie Timber story, perhaps a slightly strange one, but it’s pretty special. 

Alec’s grandma, Graeme Laing, sadly died at the age of 91 in 2018. She had been a part of local life here since she married Sandy Laing in 1947Great-grandma was prepared for her inevitable end and had asked Alec well in advance if he would make her coffin. Having – unsurprisingly – never made a coffin before, he was a little nervous at the request but you can’t say no to your 90 year old grandmother and really he was honoured.  

 In 2016 a huge Elm needed to be felled outside Alec’s house. The whole family stood by as Mark brought the mighty tree to the ground. This was the house where Great-grandma had lived for many years. 

This beautiful (and sadly increasingly rare) tree, was destined for a new life in multiple places. Two of these projects are particularly close to our hearts. One was the dining table, now inside this house, and the other was of course the coffin. 

 After spending a year as huge logs drying in the sawmill yard, and then another year drying after being slabbed  the timber was ready to use with serendipitous timing when it came to make the coffin. Great-grandma would certainly have approved. 

After cutting the boards on the mill and sanding them by hand (the days before we had our wide belt sander!), Alec spent what seemed like several weeks in the garage creating the design he had drawn in pencil on a flimsy piece of paper. We also had Henry Fosbrooke staying with us at the time who was building the sawmill shed, he was a welcome extra pair of skilled hands. 

 Once the coffin was built and finished to size, the head piece of the coffin was laser-engraved with Great-grandma’s initials: G E L 

Hopefully, GEL would have been very proud of her final resting place, carried by her family and built by her grandson.