Introduction: How to Make a DIY Coffin Shelf

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Here is a spooky fun project that adds a little creepy to any room or vanity area and who better to teach you than Drac himself. This handmade DIY coffin shelf wall display is perfect for displaying all those small spooky collectables, shoes, makeup, scary movies, or even use it as an outdoor shelf in the garden or conservatory of your haunted house. You can make this custom gothic coffin shelving display unit any size, shape, or painted finish you choose or follow along with our measurements and details on how we designed and fabricated our coffin shelf. We stain ours with a steel wool and vinegar mixture to give it a beautiful aged natural wood look but you could paint yours a solid color and add some more decorative details to it. If your looking to make a fun DIY Halloween prop or want to make an easy home decor project fit for a gothic bedroom Elvira would love then you have to check this out.

We recommend watching the video above and follow along with the written steps.


  • Cardboard/Paper (2'x6')
  • 7 Cedar Fence Pickets (1"x7.5")
  • Wood Glue
  • Finish Nails
  • Sandpaper 120 Grit
  • Screws (Optional)
  • Stain/Paint/Spar Varnish (Optional)

Tools Used:

  • Circular Saw
  • Screw Gun
  • 1/16" Drill Bit
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  • Punch
  • T-Bevel
  • Framing Square (Optional)
  • Speed Square (Optional)
  • Box Knife
  • Straight Edge/Level

Step 1: Step 1: Making a Template

We cut a cardboard box large enough to layout in at least a 2' x 6' area to draw out our coffin. Using a level or a straightedge we draw a centerline. Then we start marking out the outsides of the coffin. We are making this one 66" high, 16" wide at the top, 14" wide at the bottom, and 22.5" wide at the shoulder level. (Tip: We chose the shoulder width based off the width of three 7.5" fence pickets to make it easy) We also measured our shoulder level to come up from the bottom 53" high. Using our straight edge again we connected all our marks giving us the outside of our coffin shelf. Then holding a piece of fence picket just inside the drawn lines we traced along the other side of the board to give us all our inside edges of the coffin. Once the inside and outside lines are complete you can find all the angled ends of each piece you will have to cut. This is also a great time to map out your shelf locations. We spaced out four shelves evenly (about 14" apart) Finally we cut out our template using a box knife.

Step 2: Step 2: Cutting the Sides

We used (7) 7.5" wide x 6' tall cedar fence pickets to make this coffin. We start by using a T-bevel to help transfer all your angles from the template to the cedar picket boards. This not only gives us all our angles but it also gives us all our lengths as well. We also gave ourselves straight reference lines using a square to help guide us during cutting out our pieces. We adjust the base plate on our circular saw to match the angles drawn on the wood and start cutting our lengths one at a time. After each cut we hold the board inplace on our template to get the proper marks for our next cut going all the way around the edge in order.

Step 3: Step 3: Cutting the Backboards

Place three of your best fence boards tightly together and lay the template over the top. Now you can trace your coffin's outside edge onto the fence boards. Once you have your lines you can either clamp them on the edge of a table or screw them into place to keep them from moving while cutting with the circular saw. Once all your pieces are cut your ready to assemble.

Step 4: Step 4: Start to Assemble

Using a 1/16" bit and a screw gun pre drill 3 to 5 holes for your nails to help prevent the wood from splitting. Using plenty of wood glue you can use a finger to spread it evenly. Holding your pieces tightly together start hammering your finish nails in the predrilled holes. Once down to the woods surface you can use a punch to drive the nails beneath the surface of the wood. Do your side boards first and then attach the backboards spacing the nails every 8" to 10" or so.

Step 5: Step 5: Cut and Install the Shelves

Using the template one more time transfer the shelf location marks to the side boards on the coffin. Remember to pre drill and apply penty of wood glue and then start installing each shelf into its place. I used a speed square to help insure that each shelf was level and straight. Be careful not to smash your vampire fingers. After we nailed in 5 finish nails at each joint of the sides we flipped over the shelf unit to hammer some nails through the back to go into each shelf for added strength.

Step 6: Step 6: Sanding and Finishing

Wipe away any excess glue with a damp rag and now your ready to prep. I went over the whole coffin shelf with 120 grit sandpaper to get rid of any splinter and sharp edges. For the finish we chose a vinegar and steel wool solution we made to stain and give the wood toe pincher coffin a natural old aged look to it. You could paint it a solid color and it wouldn't be a bad idea to use a clear coat so you won't get any spots or water cup rings in the future.

Step 7: Step 7: the Results

Once dry the shelf is ready to stand up and your ready to start decorating. It stands up on its own pretty well but you could always make a wider base plate or screw through the backside into the wall for extra security. This project was super easy and can be made with minimal hand tools in an afternoon. Even Dracula himself could make this coffin prop. We hope this project inspires you to create something fun and spooky for your home or dungeon. Thanks for reading!

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