How to Build a Small Cardboard Coffin

Updated April 17, 2017

Spend a chilly autumn afternoon getting in the Halloween spirit, while doing something positive for the environment, by crafting small coffins out of recycled cardboard. Gather up old cereal or moving boxes to use in the construction of the small caskets. Fill the completed coffins with sweet treats for party guests, or display them on shelves, mantels or tables around your home as part of your Halloween decor.

Draw a 2-inch horizontal line on a piece of cardboard. Measure up from each end of the line 6 1/2 inches, and make a small mark. Measure 1 inch out from each of the marks, and make small marks. Draw diagonal lines connecting the ends of the 2-inch line with the second set of marks to form a U-like shape.

Draw a second 2-inch horizontal line 10 1/2 inches above the first. Draw diagonal lines connecting the tops of the first set of diagonal lines with the ends of the second 2-inch line. You now have a coffin shape. Cut the shape out with scissors.

Trace the coffin shape on another piece of cardboard, and cut it out so you have two identical shapes.

Cut a 1 1/2-by-25 1/4-inch strip of cardboard for the walls of your coffin. Fold the cardboard at 2 inches, 8 5/8 inches, 12 5/8 inches, 14 5/8 inches and one last time at 18 5/8 inches. Make all the folds in the same direction.

Lay one of the coffin-shapes pieces of cardboard on your work surface oriented the same way you drew it. Run a line of hot glue along the bottom 2-inch edge. Place the first 2-inch segment of the cardboard strip in the glue so it stands up. Continue drawing lines of glue along the edges, working on one section at a time, and placing the strip in the hot glue to build the sides of your coffin.

Paint the body and lid -- the second coffin-shaped cardboard piece -- with acrylic paint. Let the paint dry for an hour.

Cut two 1-inch strips of 1/4-inch-wide ribbon. Place the coffin up on its long left side. Line up the long right side of the coffin's lid. Use dots of hot glue to attach half of the ribbon pieces to the inside of the coffin body and half to the coffin's lid at the top and bottom of that long edge to give it hinges.


Embellish the outside of your coffins with anything from rhinestones to ribbon to stickers. Write your guests' names on the lids of the coffins if using them to hold party favours. Use a craft knife to cut out the cardboard pieces if using scissors makes your hands sore or your cardboard is particularly thick.


Always be careful when working with a hot glue gun. Avoid contact with the hot glue and the nozzle of the gun; both can cause painful burns.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • 1/4-inch-wide ribbon
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About the Author

Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Ainsley Patterson has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her articles appear on various websites. She especially enjoys utilizing her more than 10 years of craft and sewing experience to write tutorials. Patterson is working on her bachelor's degree in liberal arts at the University of Michigan.