Virtually all the crosses and crucifixes produced at Chapel Craft are sold to funeral homes. A cross or crucifix has long been a traditional gift given by funeral directors to their Christian families.
Chapel Craft crosses and crucifixes are still made by hand in the Mark Thomas shops. Our artisans build crosses from hardwood or brass, or a combination of wood and brass.
Brass comes in 6-foot strips, and is cut to length using a special saw. The cut pieces are sent through a power sander which removes defects left in the brass from the factory, leaving a nearly perfect finish. Each piece is then examined by a skilled artisan, who hand-polishes away any remaining flaws. The brass is notched in a computerized mill, drilled, and fastened with a brass rivet.
Once assembled, crosses that will become crucifixes are stamped with INRI, the Latin initials for “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (or “Judeans,” in some translations—the letter J had not yet been added to the Latin alphabet.) The brass is lacquered to preserve the finish, and the corpus (the body of Christ) is attached. The corpus is made at a zinc die-casting factory in Iowa using a Chapel Craft die.
Walnut crosses start out as select boards that are sanded, cut to width and length, notched using a dado saw blade, matched for color, glued, and assembled using a foot-operated press that applies just the right amount of pressure. If a strip of brass is to be added to the cross, a sawcut is made in the wood. The polished brass strip and the walnut each get a coat of lacquer before assembly.
Each piece is carefully inspected before being boxed in a two-piece gift box and shipped to funeral homes across the United States.