Introduction: How to Build a Coffin (DIY Halloween Decorations / Crafts)

About: Weekly how-to project videos about #woodworking, metalworking, and more. #Maker. Created by Johnny Brooke.

Looking for a project to add to this year's Halloween decorations? Check out this DIY coffin build! You only need a saw and drill to complete this simple woodworking project. Watch the video and follow along to complete the build!

Step 1: Cut Out Your Pieces

The coffin is built from the following materials:

  • 1 8 foot long 1x12 (I used whitewood for this project)
  • 1 8 foot long 1x8
  • 1 ¼" exterior rated screws
  • Paste wax

Cut two pieces, 40" long, from your 1x12. These pieces will make up the top and bottom of the coffin. Mark in 2 ⅛" from the sides at the top of the coffin and in 1 ⅛" at the bottom of the coffin. Mark 9" down from the top, and then connect your six marks. Cut these angled lines using some kind of saw (I used a circular saw).

Next, cut your long side panels at 31 ⅛", then continue cutting your side pieces to fit the rest of the coffin. Mark your angles and cut them by matching them up at the miter saw or circular saw. You do not need a super tight fit on these angles, just make sure any gaps are facing towards the inside of the coffin.

Step 2: Assemble the Coffin and Trim the Edges Flush

Using the 1 ¼" exterior screws, assemble the coffin. Start by placing the top onto the coffin and screwing the top onto the sides. I also added a small bracing piece to each edge where the side panels meet. I attached these with screws. Make sure to pre-drill, as this wood is thin and prone to cracking.

Once the coffin is assembled, you can flush up any overhanging areas with a flush cut saw and/or router with flush trim bit. This is optional.

Step 3: Cut Out Shape in Coffin Lid

I decided on a cross shape, so I traced it onto the lid and cut it out using a jigsaw.

Step 4: Burn Your Coffin!

I used a process called "shou sugi ban", a Japanese technique of burning the wood. This process is a type of finish, and will preserve the wood as well as color the wood. I used a giant propane torch for this process. After the wood was burnt to my taste, I scraped off the charred pieces using a wire brush. I then wiped down the entire piece with mineral spirits to remove any loose charred pieces. For finish, I used paste wax for a light finish.

Step 5: Add Lights!

For lighting, I strung in a strip of LED lights through a hole I drilled in the back of the coffin and attached them to the inside of the coffin using CA glue. The built-in adhesive on the LED strips wouldn't hold well since the surface was covered in paste wax. After adding the lights, I also added some fabric to the inside of the lid to diffuse the light coming through the cross cutout. After attaching the lid, the coffin was finished!

Step 6: Creep Out Your Neighbors and Trick-or-treaters!

This project is definitely a spooky addition to any porch. The total cost was roughly $60, about $40 for the wood and $15 for the lights. Hope you enjoyed the build! Please subscribe to my YouTube channel here if you did!

Halloween Decor Contest 2016

Participated in the
Halloween Decor Contest 2016