Underground economy: Halloween coffin-maker enjoys hobby


<p style="text-align: right;">Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune Retired steel worker and Halloween coffin-maker John Williams said he builds about 30 coffins per year. Coffins cost between $40 and $80. Williams said he most are made of white pine lumber.

Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune Retired steel worker and Halloween coffin-maker John Williams said he builds about 30 coffins per year. Coffins cost between $40 and $80. Williams said he most are made of white pine lumber.


Halloween coffin-maker John Williams said it just a hobby, but he’s doing stiff business.

His wares caught our eye as we drove past his home at 47418 US 20, where 20 coffins were propped up in the yard.

Williams, 73, said he’s been building coffins since 2014 and makes about 30 annually. The coffins sell between $40 and $80 and are primarily made of white pine lumber. “They’re made to last,” he said.

Rather than vampires or those involved in the underground economy, Williams said his customers are primarily residents who display the caskets on their lawns during Halloween.

Besides use as seasonal decorations, Williams said he builds some coffins with racks. They can be used to store wine although they’re not big enough to be caskets for casks.

A retired steel worker who spent years at Republic Steel and U.S. Steel in Lorain, Williams said coffin-making is hard work and his arthritis increases the difficulty, but he enjoys the undertaking.

“When you get old, you need something to do,” he said.

Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.

Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune Retired steel worker and Halloween coffin-maker John Williams said he builds about 30 coffins per year. Coffins cost between $40 and $80. Williams said he most are made of white pine lumber.

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Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune Retired steel worker and Halloween coffin-maker John Williams said he builds about 30 coffins per year. Coffins cost between $40 and $80. Williams said he most are made of white pine lumber.