A couple of years ago I built an acoustic guitar case, constructed entirely of cardboard and duct tape. Since completing that project, I have wanted to make a new case for transporting my parlor-sized guitars.
I didn’t want to complete that exact same project, so I drew inspiration from my favorite case from the 90’s, The Coffin Case, which had a red interior and black exterior much like my previous duct tape acoustic guitar case.
My version of the coffin case is constructed similar to the previous case but has interior dimensions made to house a parlor guitar. This case is a bit smaller than the previous case, so it only required six rolls of duct tape, one large 2-ply box, and a length of chain.
After drawing a centering line down the middle of the cardboard with a ruler, I began to lay out the dimensions for the coffin shape—luckily the ridge on the top of my official Coffin Case was exactly the right size, so I transferred the measurements to my cardboard and started production.
At this point, the box was folded in half, creating an 8-ply thickness. I cut along the guideline with a mini hacksaw, which produced a pretty clean cut. Then, I filed the perimeter of the cutout, following up with some 150 grit sandpaper. I checked the cutout against the guitar and it appeared to fit well.
I split the cutout in half and duct taped two sets of four plies together to create a top and bottom for the case. I placed the guitar in between the cutouts and measured the thickness needed for a secure, yet comfortable fit. Five inches appeared to be reasonable, so I drew a 5” strip on the remaining cardboard from the cutout and cut it with a circular saw. I cut a few additional bundles of strips.
Using duct tape, I formed the outside shape for the sides of the case. I added a second layer to the inside of the case—at this point, it felt pretty solid. I spliced the ends together and then checked the fit of the guitar, along with confirming that the sides were deep enough by checking the lid. I reinforced the bottom and sides with gray duct tape and then began applying black duct tape to the bottom. I decided to create diagonal stripes with the tape and covered the bottom, pulling it tight as I secured the ends up the sides of the case.
I applied tape to the sides of the case. Starting at the bottom, I placed strips of black duct tape around the sides, progressing upward until there was about a 2” gap at the top. (I found that using duct tape meant that you had to plan out how the layers would be applied so that each layer covered the messiness of the last layer. It would never be a perfectly flat finish, but the bumpiness would at least be covered.)
I prepared the lid and sides of the case for the magnets that would hold the lid on the case. I cut small holes in ten places around the rim on the sides of the case and then cut ten holes in similar locations on the bottom of the lid. I installed the magnets such that the sides would attract the lid, and then secured the magnets with duct tape and tested the lid.
Similar to my previous duct tape case, I used a length of chain for the handle. I cut two slits in the side of the case and used some scrap brass bar to hold the ends securely in place. A couple pieces of red duct tape finished the ends nicely.
As for the remainder of the case, I placed red duct tape on the bottom interior of the case; and then added vertical overlapping red duct tape around the interior sides—starting at the bottom side interior, up and over the rim, and onto the black tape around the exterior. The red duct tape was then cut flush with the black tape and the excess removed.
To create the red stripe around the outside of the rim, I continued running the black duct tape around the side of the case in overlapping strips up the side of the case until there was a thin strip of red around the rim. I applied red duct tape to the interior side of the lid. Then, I cut the strips of tape long and cut it to shape so that there was a thin strip of black around the underside of the lid. Lastly, I used scrap cardboard and red duct tape to create a neck rest and storage compartment.
I decided to place my initials on the lid, so printed out a picture of my initial symbol on a heavyweight paper and then cut out the initials. Then, I placed tight layers of red duct tape in steps over the stencil until I reached a desired length and width. I flipped the paper over and cut out the initials with an X-Acto knife. It attached to the lid easily and look cool after a little extra cleanup with the X-Acto.
Building this coffin case was less difficult than the previous case, but it still took a bit of time. I’m happy with the result and now I have a cool case for transporting my parlor guitars.