Plans for Building a Toe Pincher Coffin

The toe pincher is an old-fashioned six-sided coffin design that, unlike the more modern rectangle, immediately evokes death and the macabre by its recognizable shape.

This coffin design can hold a person up to 6' 3This coffin design can hold a person up to 6' 3" tall.
For this reason it is a popular prop at haunted houses and other Halloween events. With a little bit of woodworking know-how, you can build your own with just a half day's work.

Draw a full-sized template on the shelf paper. Tape several sheets together if necessary. Start by drawing a long cross. The cross' bar should intersect the beam at 58 1/2", leaving 17" inches at the top. The bar itself should measure 17" on each side. Use a carpenter's square to make the cross perpendicular. Draw a 2' line perpendicular to the top of the cross and a 17" line across the bottom. Connect the endpoints at the top and bottom of the template to the bar of the cross. You will use this template when measuring and cutting the side panels.

Draw a template on shelf paper for the base of the coffin. Repeat the process you used for the first template, with smaller dimensions. The beam's measurements should be 57 3/4" and 16 1/4"; the bar should measure 16 1/4" on each side. The top and bottom lines should measure 22 1/2" and 15 1/2".

Measure and cut the wood. Cut the base according to its template. Measure and cut the six side panels in accordance with the first template. Each side panel should be 1' in width.

Dry-fit the side panels onto the base to make sure that they fit properly. Connect all points with wood glue, then with wood screws.

Measure and cut the coffin's lid. Do this by laying one of your plywood sheets on top of the bottom assembly. Trace the outline of the assembly onto the plywood.

Attach the piano hinge to the lid using the smaller wood screws.

Plug any remaining holes with wood filler. Coat the coffin twice with wood stain.

Things You Will Need

  • 3 3/4" by 4' by 8' hardwood plywood panels
  • 2' piano hinge
  • 1/2 pound 1 5/8" wood screws
  • 1/2" wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • Shelf paper
  • Wood filler
  • Power drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Circular saw
  • T square
  • 2 quarts wood stain

About the Author

J.D. Richards has worked as a writer and journalist since 2005. He has written for various publications, including the alt-weekly "Creative Loafing" in Florida as well as Manhattan's "New York Press" and "Blackbook Magazine." He graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in journalism.