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!


  1. Looking forward to seeing how this come out!!


  2. your milk carton idea is simply "genious". I look forward to future posts, and the finished project!