Inventor Donald Scruggs and the Screw-in Coffin

By Rebecca Horne | August 6, 2010 9:17 am


For the full gallery of Donald Scruggs’s clever Easy-Inter burial system, hit the jump.


  • Chris

    Brings a whole new meaning to getting screwed.

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  • Rhacodactylus

    I realize that people have religious reasons for “needing” to go into the ground, but this seems like an awful lot of work when it just a pile of meat. I likely have a while before my time comes, but I’m not oober concerned with just being thrown out, or composted or whatever is most efficient for those left behind. I don’t know what happens after you die, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll be done with my body.

  • Jayne

    re: “Donald Scruggs at a cemetery near his home in Chino, California, April 2010”

    Why are there no shadows on the ground yet a dark shadow on his hat? The lighting on the ground is from above, the lighting on Donald is to the right.

    I think this picture is photoshopped. Bad form, Discover. If you wanted this picture, you should have actually gone there, or skipped the picture. This is a visual lie.

    • Rebecca Horne

      Hello Jayne,
      This photo was taken on location, by the photographer credited, just as indicated. This photo was taken using artificial lights, which may explain the effect you noticed.
      Kind regards,
      Rebecca Horne

  • Uncle Al

    “”you could practically wave goodbye to everyone as you’re being screwed into the ground The Internal Revenue Service reserves exclusive right to that process execution, granting rights to Homeland Severity for airport executions,

  • ccs

    Definitely artificial light, Jayne. The overcast is too dark to light the subject at that distance. I thought it was photoshopped too, until I looked closer.

  • Jayne

    I apologize, fill light never occurred to me. Its still very odd that the light is on his face, shirt, pants but no sign of the light on the tombstones or the grass, and his feet are missing but the grass doesn’t look long enough.

    It makes a good illusion.

  • David

    Jayne (and anyone else interested in technical details):

    This was shot on location at a real cemetery. It was a cloudy morning, intermittently drizzling, and the overcast sunlight provides all of the ambient light in the cemetery. Because the softened sunlight is coming from behind the subject it also puts a soft rim light on his shoulders which helps separate him from the background.

    I added one artificial light on a stand just outside the picture on the right, directed at the subject. This becomes the main light illuminating his face, hat, shirt, belt, etc.

    There actually is evidence of the artificial light elsewhere in the picture if you know what to look for: I used a slightly warm filter on the light that’s hitting him, so that the background would look slightly cool in comparison. Most of the light landed on the subject, but some of it spilled onto the tombstones in front of and behind him. That’s why they are a slightly warmer tone than the tombstones in the background.


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  • jeo

    It’s quite a striking photo, thanks for the details. It’s a shame that when you do such a great job, people’s first instinct now is to think it’s ‘shopped.

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  • Neil

    This is a cool idea for conserving real estate in cemeteries. I can imagine the problems one may encounter when ‘screwing’ your loved one and you hit a rock or some other obstruction and the coffin breaks, what a mess!

    Although from now on, you would be able to say that you ‘screwed them’ in a loving way,……

  • Don Scruggs

    David Friedman, his assistant, Ruben, and I spent about six hours in an old, old cemetery near my house. The weather started out at 6 a.m. with a fog and a light rain and got intermittently worse. The shots were taken under an overcast sky, between short showers, using natural light and a large flash reflector. David is very meticulous and as a result gets very, very good pictures.

    Incidentally, the Screw-in Coffin’s real name is “Easy Inter Burial Containers”. I have now performed the structural and weight reduction phase of the project and worked out the industrial engineering of how to efficiently and economically build them in production. I have also filed applications on several variations and several pieces of installation equipment. Marketing is the next step and starts soon.

    Donald E. Scruggs (although I got by Don)

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  • Larry Kaumeyer

    Please let donald Scruggs know that I have all the answers he would ever need regarding installation, of the Burial Container. He may want to contact me to discuss at his convenience.

    Larry Kaumeyer
    Almita Manufacturing Ltd
    Canada’s Leader in the Design, Fabrication and Installation of Screw PIles

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  • Rodney Murphy

    I find Don and his ideas to be innivative and direct. In my many years of knowing Don every trip inside the thought process of this man leaves me inlightnend and bewildered.I continue to look forward to new ideas from this inventor.

  • Caroline Hancock

    The New York Times Real Estate section of Sunday, August 15 2010 had an article called “Graveyard Gridlock,” about how so many more New Yorkers die each day than can be accommodated for burial within the city limits. (Apparently, people who’ve struggled to live in the city feel that they’re entitled to “live” there forever…) The article mentions the slightly startling fact that “London allows people to be buried upright,” so Don’s “screwy” invention seems quite timely. However, we can’t ignore the fact that the world will also run out of space for vertically buried people, since there is an infinite supply of us. Personally, I’m fine with the human version of composting; the problem is that I doubt my survivors will feel the same way…

  • funeral home Austin

    Do you might have any references for what you wrote here?

  • Ilse Rivera

    This blog is awesome. I enjoyed reading this post. Keep up the great job.

  • Mindy Lea

    I know this post is a few years old but I felt it to ask………………..Is/was there going to be/has there been an urn made as well, for those who wish to be creamated and then buried??

    I think this is a very unique, out of this world EXCELLENT idea. If it helps to conserve plot space and ground breaking in cemetarys, I am all up for it. Also, if it helps reduce people walking over graves where people are buried, even better. NOTHING more disrespectful than someone walking over top of a grave. Dead or not, it shouldnt be done.

  • Pamela Scruggs

    Mindy Lea, the container can be made to order so it can accommodate an urn or pet remains, actually it can be as large or small as the customer wishes. Because of the nature of the container (i.e. threaded body) it can be placed vertically in the ground or into the slope of a hill (which resolves your issue with people walking on graves).

  • David Casper

    Don Call me
    626 9623937
    or cell 626 5920630


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About Rebecca Horne

Rebecca Horne ( is an artist, multi-platform freelance writer, and award-winning photography director. She launched Visual Science for in March 2010. She also writes about science and photography for The WallStreet Journal. You can reach her at


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