Montana Made: Urns & Caskets by Brad Opheim

Posted at 4:56 PM, Oct 16, 2018

VAUGHN – Brad Opheim has always liked working with his hands.

“I always enjoyed carpenter work, and I knew it all along. I just never saw fit to get into the business until somebody told me I missed my calling,” Opheim.

But it wasn’t until a tragedy happened in his family that pushed him to follow his dreams.

His nephew passed away in a car accident 16 years ago. It was then, Brad built his first casket.

“It was a labor of love building his casket for him, I really miss the kid,” Opheim said.

Now, Brad’s a pro at it. It takes him two days to create his caskets which are made of blue pine wood.

“It’s pretty easy, I know my dimensions right off the top of my head,” Opheim said.

He uses blue pine wood because of its uniqueness.

“It’s [the color] caused by the bark beetle that has infested the pine trees. It’s actually a mold that grows in the tree that finally kills the tree and so that’s what makes the different patterns and so forth in the wood. People find it beautiful and I do, too,” Opheim said.

He knows it’s an odd job, but someone has to do it.

Opheim made these custom order book-like urns for someone’s mantle.

“It gets people’s attention that’s for sure. It’s not the first thing I typically say. You get quite an array of different remarks on that,” Opheim.

His business is run through word of mouth and he’s already taking orders for family members, friends, and mutual acquaintances that just so happen to still be alive.

“There’s several in rafters up and down the valley, around the country, that people have pre-purchased,” Opheim said.

Opheim can make custom-make urns. This one pictured holds his dog’s ashes.

But most of the time, the caskets and urns he makes are for people he knows.

“If I know who it’s for, it’s kind of awesome to have that time to reflect on them and how they have changed my life or been a part of my life,” Opheim said.

If you wish to purchase a casket or urn through Brad, you can contact him at (406)-965-3006 or (406)-590-3375 or you can email

“At the end we are going to end up in one or the other, in an urn or a casket, it’s just part of life,” Opheim said.

Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News