Are you tired of the typical coffin/casket laying on the ground in your cemetery. Would you like to give the illusion of an open grave in your cemetery display without having to dig up your front lawn? Then just add a Coffin/Casket Lowering Device Stand.
The first Coffin/Casket Lowering Device was patented by A. C. Richardson on November 13, 1894, so it is perfect for old & new cemetery scenes.
Using this in your cemetery scene, gives a touch of realism, uniqueness & a wide variety of potential for scares (a remote rat perhaps) and hiding places for items such as fog machines & power cord junctions. Run a string of red & orange flickering lights under it to create the illusion of the fires of hell waiting to gobble up the casket & it's occupant. Tons of potential from something very simple to make.
The Casket Lowering Stand/Device can be made from PVC, wood or even metal. This one is made from scraps of vinyl railing found in the trash. The pieces are all screwed together so that it can be taken apart for easy storage.
I will do my best to explain in the pics/drawings, how this was done, since I didn't think about doing this Instructable until after the project was completed.
Step 1: Materials
Because this is an prop made from scraps found in the trash, and miscellaneous items we had laying around, you will have to adapt and use similar materials that you may have. Below are the suggested materials needed based on the type of material you use for this project.
Frame - Wood or Vinyl
Hand rail material
L & angle brackets (for use with a wood hand rail)
Paint - a metalic color like gold, silver, chrome, etc.
Frame - Metal or pvc pipe
Side outlet elbows fittings
Paint for the frame - a metalic color like gold, silver, chrome, etc.
Paint for the legs - Black
A dark color light weight fabric
Matching color thread
Clothes line rope or heavy twine (If you are adventurous you could use elastic)
Zip ties (If you are going to stack them 2 crates high)
Landscaping material to cover the milk crates
For an older (1800 or 1900's) look - 2 long pieces of rope to go under the coffin/casket and drape over the sides
For a more modern look - at least 4 sections of lawn chair webbing or seat belt material which would be screwed or Velcroed to the underside of the frame to look like it is supporting the coffin/casket
Step 2: Connecting the Frame
Make a 45 degree angle cut on both ends of the top, bottom & 2 side sections of vinyl railing. The length of the sections will depend on the width & length of the coffin/casket being used for this. You only want to make the inside opening of the frame about an inch wider on all sides of the coffin/casket.
Cut a piece of the vinyl baluster to fit into the the end of a side rail section of frame and secure it with a screw. Line up the top (or bottom) section of frame to the side section & secure it to the baluster with a screw. Repeat this on all corners.
Paint the railing on the top & sides.
If you use a wood railing, use L brackets to connect the frame pieces.
If using metal or pvc pipe you would use the side outlet elbows fittings at the corners and have to cut the longer side frame sections in half with a tee fitting between the 2 halves.
Step 3: Attaching the Legs
Cut 6 balusters to the desired height for your coffin/casket.
Paint all of the balusters black.
Since the vinyl railings comes pre-punched, you don't really get a choice of where you place the end or center legs, so just use the closest hole possible to the ends & middle. It is not critical that they are evenly spaced because the skirting will hide the legs anyway.
Use a screw through the lower ridge of the rail on both the inside & outside to secure the leg.
If you are using a wood railing you can either put the screws in at an angle or use angle brackets to attach the legs.
For the metal & PVC pipe just slide the leg sections of pipe or PVC into the fittings, they are designed to fit snug so you shouldn't need to use anything to hold them in place.
Step 4: Skirting
For the skirting you will need at least enough fabric to go all the way around the outside of the frame. How much you will need depends on how long & wide you make your frame. Ideally you should have extra fabric to give the skirt a gathered look. What you see in my finished prop is what I had on hand, so it is not gathered as much as I would have liked it to be.
Take the fabric and fold it in half so that both short ends come together. Sew a seam along the short ends.
Fold down one of the long edges to create a wide enough pocket to put the rope or heavy twine through and sew it all the way, except for an opening at the short edge seam, where you will fish the rope or twine through to create a drawstring.
Depending on what fabric you use you will need to either just cut or cut & hem the fabric to fit the height needed to cover the section between the underside of the frame & the ground. Mine is just cut and will fray but I am counting on that to give it an aged look over time.
Fish the drawstring through with a drawstring puller (basically a long plastic needle with large eye in it) which can be found at a sewing supply store or you can just use a safety pin. I have also used a chopstick and taped the cording to it.
Once you have it fished through you can place it around the lower edge of the frame rails and tighten up the rope/string. Tie it off.
Step 5: Prepare the Coffin/casket
Place a milk crate near the head & foot of the coffin/casket. If you stack 2 crates make sure to zip tie them on all 4 sides so one does not slide off the other.
Take landscaping fabric and cover the milk crates. I tucked the ends under the crates just in case we decided to do lighting around the edge but tucking it under is just an optional step.
Lay a piece of rope over the center of each milk crate.
Place the coffin/casket on top of the milk crates and then place the rope up on top of the coffin/casket. (If you used strapping instead of ropes you will need to put the frame in place before you put the coffin/casket in place.)
Drop the Coffin/Casket Lowering Device Frame over the coffin/casket. Drop the ropes down on the ground or use graveyard creatures holding the ends of the rope & you are done.