Monday, September 27, 2010

Boarded up windows

I tried this last year and it didn't work out as well as I had hoped.  This year, I built a frame which would friction fit between our brick window-casing on the front of our house. 

The frame was made to roughly match the window style (frame with a cross in the middle) made out of 1x4 material.  I bought some industrial velcro and ran a strip vertically down each outer edge of the frame.  I'll take a photo of the frame and put it up here tonight.

Foam Boards:
The wooden boards were made out of rigid insulation sheets that you can get at any home improvement store.  I cut them about a foot longer than the width of the frame to allow overlap and to allow them to be mounted on odd angles.  The steps were pretty easy:  1. cut out a strip of foam to whatever width board you want, 2. use a knife to cut the edges of the board, 3. use a pen or blunt object (or a knife) to trace/cut the grain of the wood into the foam, and 4. paint them up!  On the back of each board, I ran a piece of velcro (opposite side of what went on the frame) horizontally about 4 or 5 inches on each side of the board.  This allows me to position them at various angles between the two vertical strips of velcro on the frame.

For the paint, I painted them with a dark brown base coat and then lightly dry brushed them with a lighter color brown.  I could have spent more time on them, but I needed to move on to other projects.  Busy, busy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Graveyard Columns HowTo - Part 3

Almost there!  I've painted each column with a latex semi-gloss black for a base coat as seen here:

Then, I took some gray latex paint and brushed over the top of the black.  Make sure not to cover up the black base color entirely.  The black will be visible in the low parts (made by the water and blow torch).

Once this dries, I'm going to add a bit of white to my gray to get a little lighter color and use a sponge to hit it gently to make some highlights.  Of course, you could add as many colors and shades as you like (green for moss/lichens, etc).  If I have time, I may try some of those, but for now, this will be good enough.

Until next time...
Happy Haunting!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Graveyard Columns HowTo - Part 2

I've been working on finishing the columns this weekend.  I'm pretty far along now.  I cut the rest of the foam board and glued them to the panels, trimmed out the primary (test) column and made a top for it.  I don't have the procedure down just yet for the top.  It works, but I can probably improve on it for the next one I build.  Here are some photos of the first column before painting.  The texture you see on the foam is from spraying the foam with a spray bottle to wet it and then taking a blow torch (outside people - toxic fumes!) and lightly wave it back and forth.  It causes a really cool weathered effect.

Here you can see the top is separate from the base for easy storage

fully assembled - just need paint!
closeup of the top-not crazy about this and will probably change the design for the next column.
Texture using water and blow-torch.
the front (pulled away here) and back have the vertical corner mouldings attached.  The side foam pieces fit behind the other side of the corner moulding.  Each panel has a base plate which is glued and nailed to each panel (about an inch off the ground so the ground doesn't cause the panels to shift if it is uneven - in theory anyway).

Next up - painting!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Graveyard Columns HowTo - Part 1

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm trying to make some graveyard columns for my haunt.  I have the basic construction done and thought I'd share some photos with you.  This post will only cover what I've actually done so far.  I'll post another with relevant photos once I'm further along.

Here's what I used (so far anyway):
  • 1x4 lumber to build the face plates for each column
  • plastic milk crates
  • wood screws to assemble the face plates (wood glue helps too)
  • mini bungee cords (found a bundle of them at Home Depot)
  • small eyelet screws (hooks would work as well I guess - something to hook the end of the bungee cords to)

First things first.  Decide how many columns you want and how high you want your columns to be.  Obviously, more columns, more milk crates.  Taller columns, more milk crates.  I settled on using 5 milk crates per column (and keep with my 4 columns for the yard).  So I scavenged the internet trying to find some free or inexpensive plastic milk crates (all the same size).  No real luck second hand (I even called the local grocery stores to see if they would get rid of any - no luck).  I did find that Wally-world (Wal-Mart) had a set of 6 for like $24.00.  At $4.00 each, not terrible I guess.  So I ordered them.

Next, I went to Home Depot and bought some 1x4s to make the face frame.  I experimented with how wide to make the frames.  Unfortunately, the milk crates were not perfectly square - one side was an inch or so longer than the other.  However, I figured it would be nice if I could make all the frames the same size so as not to have to keep track of which ones go on which side (we'll see if that comes back to haunt me).  I'm not going to give specific dimensions now since I'm still not entirely sure this will work.  Once I am done and (hopefully) have succeeded, I'll post a final list of materials and measurements.  Here are a few photos of how the face frames turned out (4 for each column, of course):

You can see one of the eyelet screws in the middle brace of the frame above.  There are similar eyelet screws in the top brace and bottom brace as well. 
I used a pocket hole jig to attach everything together.  It works well since you don't need to clamp everything (I build one using biscuits and soon realized it would take 100 years to finish since I had to clamp and wait for them to dry).

After the frames were assembled and the eyelet screws attached, I found a bag of mini (10") bungee cords at Home Depot.  These work perfectly - and you could shorten them by tying a knot in the end if need be.  The tension seems to be just right though out of the box, er bag.

Next, the assembly.  Starting at the bottom, place a milk crate on the ground and lay the four panels around it.

Place a bungee cord through one side of the milk crate and attach it to the eyelet screw.  Run it to the other side and attach it to the other eyelet screw.  Run another from the other two faces:

Place two more milk crates on top of the first.  Notice the third milk crate has a hole drilled in it to allow access to the middle eyelet screw.

Bring the face plates up and attach with two more bungee cords.

Add two more milk crates and attach as above.

There we have it!  Of course, now the plan is to cut some foam board and glue it to each face frame and paint it.  I'm also planning on using some corner moulding on the corners of the columns.  I think this might help keep things square and hide the edges of the foam.  Here's what that looks like:

Part 2 should be up soon!

Happy Haunting!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Graveyard columns new and improved

For the last two years I've put out a cemetery fence with columns for Halloween. It definitely adds to the feel of a cemetery of course but it also helps keep kids from running through the lawn and potentially tripping over the wires and cables that light up the other decorations.

From Halloween 2009

The columns were made out of 1x2 lumber and then covered with sheets of regular white beaded styrofoam and painted. They worked pretty well but they were heavy and a pain to store in the off season. So, last year I decided I would try and come up with a column that looked just as good but could be easily disassembled for storage. I think I might have figured something out and it centers around milk crates.

My thinking is that I could get some plastic milk crates and stack them up to whatever height and then create four panels (one for each side) that could be attached (and, of course, removed) easily. These panels would then be covered in foam board and decorated like normal. When Halloween is over, I can simply remove the side panels and stack (they should stack and store quite nicely) and then unstack the milk crates and use them for storing other Halloween decorations.

As soon as I start this project, I'll post photos and a more detailed how-to (assuming it works out well that is).