At Christmas time we got a new TV and of course a new TV stand to go with it. The family and I were all stoked to have a nice new piece of equipment for our viewing pleasure but it seemed that only I was stoked to have an empty card board box.

Ah, a large empty card board box… What should I do with it besides leave it lying around under foot much to my wife’s chagrin. Then finally the $20 Halloween prop building contest a came to my rescue and gave me a reason to transform that empty box into a haunted Halloween party decoration.

This is a contest that invites forum members to build a Halloween prop for $20 or less. So, with my empty CBB (Card Board Box) and the following tools and other material, I figured I’d give it a shot. It was either that or be forced to toss out my CBB (which by this time I’d grown fond of) because we all know there is only so long your better half will let you hang on to a large, space taking, “useless” CBB.

The first thing we did with our CBB was to “open-up” the corner joints of the box’s bottom. This CBB was simply glued together with a softer glue so it was actually pretty easy to separate

Once the bottom of the box was flatten the outline of a Toe Pincher Coffin was traced onto it. The trick here is to get the proper angles for the dimensions of the box. This CBB was 55 inches long and 21 inches wide so the angles had to work for those measurements and as you can see from the photo it took more than one try to get them to look ok. Always remember that a Toe Pincher Coffin is called a Toe Pincher because the bottom is always narrower than the top. Note: The trace outline of the coffin should start & stop at the original folds of the box – meaning where the “wall” and “floor“ used to be a 90 degree angle.

Next, carefully with a utility knife, we cut along the original fold from the edge of the flatten box to the traced outline of the top & bottom of the coffin. The same kind of cut was needed for where the two side lines meet at where the cadaver‘s shoulder would be. All these cuts were completely through the CBB and were done for both sides.

The next lines that we cut were the side lines. These were 40 inches by 16 inches and we used a four foot level as a straight edge guide so that we would end up with straight cuts.

Do NOT Cut All The Way Through The Card Board For These Cuts…

This is because these cuts will be our new fold lines for the bottom sides of the Coffin.

After the new side lines have been folded, we stood them up along side the top and bottom folds. Again we used the four foot level as a straight edge guide to trace a line from where the top & bottom folds start to the corner tip of the side line. See the pictures for this explanation because it does a better job than my writing about it! Once the lines were traced the resulting excess triangle was cut off with a pair of scissors.

With all the cuts made it was time to break out the Packing Tape Gun and tape all the folds together. We taped outside and inside and from outside to inside. The Tape came from a dollar store so we were not afraid of using too much. NOTE: Where the two sides met (the 40 & 16 inch pieces) the angles had to be cut straight before taping. When all top, bottom and side folds were completely taped up solid we had the base of a very respectable CBB Halloween Coffin!

Because the coffin was intended to be a Corner Ceiling Hanging prop, the next step was to install the hanging mechanism. What better thing to use for hanging than a coat hanger.

We un-twisted the hanger, straighten it out and then put two 90 degree bends in it, each 4 inches off center. Next we cut a piece of card board which we folded together with glue and tape. Then glued and taped the folder piece to the bottom of the coffin at a point where the extended coat hanger ended when placed at the top of the coffin. The extra piece of card board was for extra strength & support so that the hanger would not pull through the bottom of the coffin while hanging.

Finally, for this stage we drilled two nice holes through the support and pushed the hanger through. Before completely pushing it through, another couple of short 90 degree bends were placed on the hanger so that the part sticking out the back would be pointing up towards the top. One more gentle bend to the hanger at the back of the coffin, so that it hanged forward, and the hanging mechanism of this prop was complete.

Because we knew that this Halloween prop was going to have red LED lights inside it and because we wanted to make sure that there would be as much inner glow as possible – We Tin-foiled the interior of the coffin.

First, we drizzled glue around and then we installed pre-cut pieces of aluminium foil. We placed the foil in sloping curves instead of sharp 90 degree corners, that way more light would be bounced back. And you can see from our test run that things were looking promising.

To install the lights, we simply made a hole in the bottom wall of the coffin and then fed the lights through the hole. To hold the battery pack we made a quick little pouch by folder a piece of card board and then gluing and taping it to the bottom of the coffin.

Of course we made sure to leave enough slack in the wire to be able to remove the battery pack from the pouch in order to change out the batteries. We also taped the lights down inside the coffin so they‘d stay in place while hanging up in the corner.

At this point the bottom part is done (till later) so we turned our attention to the top. The first thing to do was flatten the top part of the CBB just as we‘d done with the bottom before. Then we cut the flaps off at the original fold lines.

Then we cut the “folds“ in half which happened to be 3.5 inches. Once again we used the four foot level as a straight edge guide.


If you cut a piece of card board along a straight edge, but don‘t cut all the way through, you can fold the cut back and then finish the cutting job from the other side.

Once we had the 3.5 inch strips cut to length: 41, 16, 12 & 8 inches – it was time to attach them. For this part we wanted to specifically leave spaces between the bottom part of the coffin and the new piece that we were attaching so that the red light from inside could shine out.

We placed three small pieces of tape on a strip and then held that strip above the bottom while pressing the tape firmly into place. Next we let the 3.5 inch strip hang down and we then placed a length of tape on its bottom side. Next we lifted the 3.5 inch strip up and we pressed the latest piece of tape firmly into place on the inside of the coffin.

Once we were sure these spot tape jobs were holding we then liberally taped the whole 3.5 inch strip inside and out. The concept here was that not only would the tape hold the card board strip in place but it would also act as a window pane for the interior light.

For the top, bottom and side angles we simply held the pieces up, side by each, and marked off the angles that the looked best to our eyes. Again the excess triangles were cut off and the remaining pieces were liberally taped into place all the while focusing on leaving space between the pieces so that the interior light could shine through the “window panes“.

To finish off the structure of this card board box halloween Coffin we just needed to add the top piece. So we measured the opening that was left and then traced and cut out the top piece accordingly, remembering to cut it a bit smaller so there would be cracks for the light to shine out.

Next we marked off lines to represent wooden slats. After that we drew and cut out a cross at the shoulder wide point. Finally, we then cut the top into individual strips to mimic the wooden slats.

Once we had the “wooden slats“ all cut out we taped them back together. Only this time we left various sizes of cracks in between the pieces, including no space in some areas. In other areas we cut out small chunks to make it look like missing wood. Again everything was taped together using the tape as little window panes.

To put the top in place we put pieces of tape on the inside of the top side walls and then some more on the top-side of the top piece and then lowered one corner into place at a time. As the top was lowered we’d firmly press the tape down as we progressed along. Once we got to the end we had to stick our hand through the cross and finish off the inside tape that way.

And that was it we were finished the structure – the only left to do now was to apply the finishing skin.

Even though our Toe Pincher Coffin prop was looking not too bad at this point it still wasn‘t what we had envisioned. To give it the appearance we wanted we still needed to skin it in what some people refer to as “snot rag mache“.

We used paper towels instead of tissue paper implied by the name. We simply thinned white school glue with water, (about 70/30) and mixed in a generous blob of black craft paint. We then dipped the paper towels into this grey mixture and then applied then soaked gluey towels to the outside of the coffin.

We also painted the card board sides with mixture before applying the towels. Of course for the top “wooden slats” the paper towel was pre cut into strips of various sizes. The trick here is to have the towel a little bigger than the piece of card board that you’re trying to cover so that you can bunch up the towel as it was applied.

We tried mostly to keep the wrinkles running the same way. NOTE: Because the tape window panes are supposed to let light shine through we had to wipe off any paint and glue that we got on them. Also note, where the glue didn‘t hold particularly well we just spot glued with full strength glue after the fact.

Once the new skin on the coffin dried it was time to paint/detail the new skin. Because of the grey base we only had to add some black splotches here and there making sure to leave some of the grey. This was done with a combination of wet and dry brushing so that the black somewhat faded into the grey.

Next, we then dry brushed all the wrinkles with white paint. We attempted to only do the tops of the wrinkles to really define them. After that was done we subtly painted in some “board lines” and did further light weight dry brushing with the white paint.

Then finally as a finishing touch we lightly outlined in white the cross and the main angles and shape lines of the coffin and then super lightly outlined the “wooden slats“. All this extra white was to define the shape of the coffin under Halloween lighting because as everybody knows white bounces back light.

Well in more detail than you probably wanted, that is how we built our Card Board Box Toe Pincher Coffin prop decoration.

The only left to do was hang it up, turn the lights on, enjoy and take some pictures of the finished Halloween prop.

The Finished Toe Pincher Coffin Prop

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