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Pallet Toe-pincher Coffin: Tutorial

23157 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  Dead cat
Don't know if anyone has noticed, but I've been slowly transferring my photo album tutorials to the blog here. I've fixed some broken pieces (picture links), put on a fresh coat of paint (better explanations) and added a few more goodies to them (videos). This next one was my very first tutorial in the summer of '08. Yeah, I took a lot of pictures back then :eek:

This coffin is made to be very sturdy because it houses pneumatics for a Vampire in Box (VIB).

Here's a video of it in action:

Let's begin the tutorial....

The inspiration for this project is ScareFx's $25 Full-size toe-pincher coffin. http://blogcrypt.com/ScareFX/2397/

You will need three to four pallets to get enough wood pieces for the top and sides.

Materials Needed:
3 - 4 pallets
1 sheet of plywood
1 box of 1" drywall/wood screws (coarse thread)
1 box of 1 3/4" drywall/wood screws (coarse thread)
Three 6' long 6" wide wood fence planks
10' of 5/8" thick manila rope
Three 4" black strap hinges (gate hinges)
20' decor chain
6 nails
Rusty lock
Coat-of-arms type decoration

Tools needed:
1/8" drill bit
7/8" spade drill bit
Hand saw
Reciprocating saw
Circular saw
(optional) jig saw
Tape measure
Two saw horses
Occasional helper...

Separate Pallets: Use a reciprocating saw to cut off the pallet nails to separate the boards. Why saw off the nail? Because these are evil, twisted shank nails that do not come apart easily when you try to pry them apart. Just easier to cut them off. This is a lot of work and you need a helper to hold up the pallet as you cut.

Pick Choice Pieces: Lay out the best gnarly pieces of wood to make your lid. This lid will be 6' long and 27" at the widest point.

Cut Cross Braces: You'll be making three cross braces to attach the pallet wood together at the top, center and bottom of the lid. Measure the center of the lid and subtract 4 inches to get 23 inches. Cut 23" from a fence plank to give you your first cross brace.

Cut the remaining 49" fence plank in half lengthwise using the circular saw. This will give you two 3" wide boards. Use these pieces for the remaining top and bottom cross braces being sure to give yourself a 2" gap on each side of the finished lid. You need the 2" gaps in the cross braces to give you clearance for the sides of the coffin when the lid is attached and closed.

Assemble Lid: At the top, bottom and middle of the already laid out lid pieces, slide the cross-braces you made underneath. Be sure to have that 2" clearance on all sides.

Screw Together: First, a word about pre-drilling. Do not skip this step. Pallet wood is old and it really wants to split. If you do not pre-drill your holes it will split like no ones' business. You've been warned ;)

Pre-drill holes (2 for each board) and screw together using the 1" wood screws into the cross brace. Repeat the procedure for the top and bottom being sure that 2" clearance is there.

Add Additional Reinforcement: Flip over and add another cross brace for stability. I used a skinny piece of left-over pallet wood for that.

In case you noticed.... The center cross brace in my picture isn't wider (6") than the other top and bottom cross braces. That was a mistake of mine. The wider piece is easier to screw into the two sets of wood. Also, you'll notice that I didn't give myself the 2" clearance on the left side of the middle cross-brace and at the top cross brace. Now I'll have to hand saw that off :( At least I still got the 2" clearance for the very top and bottom of the lid right :D

Cut Toe-pincher Shape: You will now mark the outline of the toe-pincher. For the bottom angle take a long board and starting 16" from the top and 3" from the edge of the bottom, mark a straight line. Repeat for the other side. For the top angle start at that same 16" mark and 3" from the edge of the top side, make a mark. Repeat for the other side.

Cut off the marked edges to form the shape of your coffin.

Finish Cut Cross-Braces: You must make sure that the cross braces gives you enough clearance for the sides when you close it. If too long, cut off with a hand saw.

Lid nearly done but not nearly scary enough...

Attach Accent Boards: Pre-drill and screw in accent boards from the pile of left-over pallet wood to give it a creepier look. They also firm up the boards if you screw in each board to the accent piece.

Finish Cut Accent Boards: Cut off edge of accent boards with saw.

Top is done!

Draw out Bottom: For the bottom of the coffin, there is no need to use pallet wood. Plywood is fine. Place top of lid on the plywood and trace out. Be sure to swing one side of the top lid to the edge of the plywood so it saves you from having to cut out one of the sides.

Here you can see the pattern made.

Cut Bottom: Cut out bottom using circular saw. Bottom and top is now complete.

Choose Wood for Sides: Decide how deep you want your coffin. To me, 12" is too shallow and 18" is too deep. I settled on 15".

Now determine which pieces of pallet wood would work for the header, footer, two sides and two angle sides. Pick evil-looking wood for best effect. The wood sitting at the foot of the coffin is long enough to make the header and footer when they are cut it in half.

Cut Cross Braces for Sides: Lay out the side wood to get ready to screw together using the plywood bottom as a working table. Make sure that you have enough wood to make the sides at least 14" (1/2" bottom plus 1/2" lid plus 14" = 15" deep coffin.)

To make the needed cross braces use the remaining fence plank from the lid construction that was cut in half (3" wide piece) and cut twelve 12" pieces. If you don't have enough wood, grab another fence plank, cut in half lengthwise and continue to cut your needed pieces.

Grab another fence plank (6") and cut off two 12" pieces.

Screw Sides Together: Using the same procedure you used to make the lid, pre-drill and screw in the side boards into the cross braces. First use the 3" wide cross brace for each set of pallet wood and then use the 6" wide cross brace to join the two sets together. Be sure to have the cross brace level with the bottom of the side. There will be a large gap left at the top. This will allow the lid to clear when closed.

Mark Length to Cut: Here's how the side looks when held up on the bottom. Mark where the side of the coffin angles away to the header. You will be cutting the excess of the side off.

Square Mark and Cut: Using a square, mark off the needed amount. Cut off with a circular saw.

Make Top Sides, Header and Footer: Bottom sides are done. Make the top angle sides and the header and footer but do not cut to the proper fit. You will do that later on.

Cut Anchors: Using the thick wood from the center spine of the pallet, cut off eight 5" pieces of wood.

Mark Anchor Placement: While side is held up in place, slide up one of the pieces of wood you just cut. That will serve as the anchor for the side. Mark the placement with a marker. Put side back down on floor.

Screw Anchors in Place: Pre-drill and screw in 1 3/4" screws in three places on the wood anchor. Use two wood anchors for the one side. Repeat process for the other side.

Screw Sides into Anchors: Put the sides into place. Pre-drill and screw in 1 3/4" screws through the sides into the wood anchor. Do a total of three screws for each anchor.

Measure Footer: Measure the opening at the footing between the two sides. Using your square, measure that on the footer/header piece and cut the footer out with a circular saw.

Screw in Anchors and Footers: Again, mark where a wood anchor is needed for the footer, pre-drill and screw in. Attach the footer to the wood anchor. You can see that I also had a space open for the MIB wiring to fit through.

Screw Sides to Footer: Pre-drill and screw in each side into the footer. I screwed in each board to make it very solid.

Mark, Cut and Screw in Top Sides: Measure the distance from the end of the top angle sides to the header. Using your square, mark off and cut the top angle side side to fit. Mark, pre-drill and screw in anchor wood and attach the top angle side. You'll notice that I had to cut the wood anchor to be shorter. There wasn't enough room for a 5" wood anchor.

Add Cross-member: To add strength, use another cross member to span the side and the angle side together. Pre-drill and screw in from the other side.

Repeat all of this for the other top angle side.

This shows the other side.

Mark, Cut and Screw in Header: Follow same procedure for the footer to attach the header. All the sides are on!

As you can see, there are cross braces everywhere! I hope you remembered to leave a 2 inch clearance at the top or the lid won't fit on.

Make the top even: The lid is on to show that the top edges will have to be evened up so the lid fits nicely.

Mark Depth: Measuring from the bottom plywood, mark the perimeter of the coffin 14 1/2" high. Cut this out with the circular saw.

Cut is done and pretty even.

Screw from Bottom and Extras: To add rigidity, pre-drill and screw in 1 3/4" screws from the bottom up to the cross pieces in the inside. Do that for each one. Also, go around and screw in all loose boards until you feel comfortable that it is strong. I did this because this will end up being a MIB and will take punishment from pneumatics.

Side Accent Pieces: Lid fits nicely. Now it needs an accent piece on both sides. Again screw the accent piece to each board to make it much more rigid and scary.

Now with accent piece. Much scarier.

Mark Rope Openings: To make the rope handles measure and mark two holes 7" apart halfway up from the bottom of the coffin. Get it as close to the angled part of the coffin as you can.

Drill Hole: Drill out with the 7/8 spade bit.

Make Rope Handles and Attach: Cut the manila rope into four lengths (2 1/2' each). Insert one rope into the hole and knot. Repeat for the other side.

Here you can better see the placement.

Attach Lid Hinges: Screw in three 4" black strap hinges (gate hinges) onto the long side of the coffin.

Separate Decor Chain: Separate the decor chain into two 10' lengths.

Attach Chain to Bottom: Slightly hammer in a nail, hook the chain over it and hammer the nail again to bend it over the chain. Drape the chain crosswise over the coffin and pound in another nail to keep in place. The extra chain is draped onto the back nails to add to the rattling sound.

Nail Corners: To keep the chains from falling off the edges put a nail in each corner.

Lock: Place lock where the chains cross each other.

Coat-of-Arms: Screw in the coat of arms plaque near the top of the lid. TADA! You are done :D Let the drinking commence (if you haven't already).

Thanks for checking out this tutorial.
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How did you get the lid to slam? I have a split top casket that i pull behind my hearse and i tried to get the lid to slam useing a windshield wiper motor. It worked but was unreliable and eventually quit working. A friend came up with the idea of useing a winch motor to power it and that is my next step.
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