Full-Size Toe Pincher Coffin

What you will need:

  • 2 Sheet of 3/8 plywood
  • 1 Sheet of 3/4 plywood
  • 20 feet of base board molding
  • 14 feet of crown molding
  • 6 8 foot pine boards (3 4in, 3 6in)
  • 4 hinges
  • 6 coffin handles from ABCO Platers Part #19 (273-81)Ph.(215)634-6983
  • 2 quarts of wood stain (I used (1)"dark walnut" and (1)"golden oak")
  • Satin or similar fabric
  • Poly-fil or pillow stuffing
  • 12in pneumatic cylinder (if you want the lid to open independently)
  • Misc. saws, routers, clamps, nail gun, drill, screws, staples, etc.

I first want to start off by thanking Scott N. for his Coffin Plans. I did do a few alterations to his plans but my coffin is basically the same as his original plans. I will go into more detail as I go along.

I followed all of Scott's coffin plans except for the original dimensions. His coffin is 17in deep where mine is only 15, which I think makes it look a bit more proportioned. I also didn't use 3/4 mdf board. Instead I used 3/8 plywood for the base as well as the entire frame of the coffin.

When I originally built coffins, they were first built out of 2x4's then covered with masonite. They looked ok but were heavy and not detailed at all. This coffin was built using no internal supports or braces, but to do so, I had to use a nail gun with 1.5in nails and alot of patients.
First I cut out the base with the exact same dimensions as Scott's. I also cut the lid out of 3/4in plywood with the same dimensions as the base. In Scott's plans he used 3 12in pine boards that he glued together. I wanted to skip this step and avoid the hassle of gluing, clamping, and sanding the 3 boards together as well as I am using a pneumatic cylinder to lift the lid and I was afraid that the pressure from the cylinder would eventually break the glue bond. If you are using a pneumatic cylinder to lift the lid I advise that you follow my advice. Now that we have our base and lid cutouts, I then cut the remains of the 1st sheet of plywood into 14in strips for the walls of my coffin .

Unless your a seasoned woodworker, I suggest cutting each piece independently and use 13-15 degree angles on all butted edges. Once you've cut all your panels and dry fitted them to ensure a correct fit then you can start constructing. I used a generous amount of "External" wood glue around all edges that were to be nailed then proceeded to nail all of the sections to my base panel. After all sections were nailed to my base, I flipped the whole thing over and proceeded to nail the tops of the panels together. Be careful if your using a nail gun because on a few of the angles the nails wouldn't go in and they were flying all over the place. After that part is done, I recommend sealing all joints with wood glue and let the whole thing dry overnight. While it is drying take your dark walnut stain and apply it to all surfaces that will not be covered by the pine boards(where the handles will be).

Now that your glue and stain are dry, start applying the pine board walls. I used the 6in board around the bottom and the 4in around the top. I once again used 13-15 degree angles on all of the joints. Don't nail or screw any of these boards onto the plywood frame because we will need to router them shortly.

Once you have all of the base and top boards cut 1 8 foot strip of 4in pine with a 15 degree angle down the entire edge. Now measure the distance between the 4 and 6in pine boards against the coffins frame. Now once you have all of the pieces cut and they fit to your liking, you will nail the 6 sections(head, foot, and 4 sides) together so you can router them with the bit of your choice. I used the fanciest one I could find. You will also be using this bit for the coffin lid. Now router all of the inside edges, and once that's done, you can glue and nail the sections to the plywood frame. Dry fit them first to ensure that you didn't miss any spots while staining with the dark walnut. I advise doing one section at at time and work around the coffin.(don't nail one panel on then jump to the next side, work from one section to the next)

Now your coffin should be coming along nicely. You may want to build this away from the view of onlookers, I built mine in July and the 4 days I worked on it, I had numerous disgusted looks and a visit by the police. Now start applying the base board to the bottom of your coffin. Now take your coffin lid and router the top edge. Once you've finished this, you can start applying the crown molding to the inside of the lid. This was the hardest part of the project and definitely the most time consuming. When you are purchasing your crown molding make sure that you purchase one that has atleast a 3/4 - 1.5in flat surface so you can nail it to your lid. Now once you've glued and nailed the molding to the lid, you can mount it to the coffin and start staining with the golden oak. You can also go over the dark walnut with the lighter stain and it will fill in the gaps between the pine and plywood.

If you are into pneumatics, you can choose to have your lid open and close by means of a 12in pneumatic cylinder mounted to the foot of the coffin. See the photos below.

In order to have the cylinder hidden I chose to build a housing over the cylinder that would not only hide the cylinder but allow me to hide plugs or anything else I decided to add to the coffin's interior. I also added a pin switch that allowed my internal lights to only turn on when the lid was opened, therefore avoiding the risk of fire. That light gets really hot in a sealed and padded enclosure, so if you don't install a pin switch, I don't recommend adding a light inside.

Regardless if you have a light or not please be careful. Most fabric will easily catch fire, if a lightbulb is near or touching it you have a potential fire hazard. I'm sure after spending a few hundred dollars and countless hours on this project, you wouldn't want to see it go up in flames. (Also the fire marshall won't approve it if he/she sees it.)

The easiest way I found to pad the inside was to first cut the fabric so its about 8 inches bigger(4in on each edge) then the area you are working on. Then staple the fabric to the edge with the fabric laying over the sides of the coffin(covering the handles).

Now add your poly-fil to the inside of the wood and cover it with the flap of fabric and staple it to the bottom wall of the coffins interior. Do this to each side, bottom and lid of the coffin and once your happy with the way it looks, add your upholstery tacks. This is a must to get that thick padded look.

Re-attach the lid and you're done.