Unlike the US, Australia has only recently started to embrace Halloween. my family though, especially my mum, has been celebrating Halloween for many years. This year Halloween falls on a Saturday so we are having a monstrous gathering with friends and family (bad pun I know!)
Each year everyone pitches in and makes props and decorations and this year I decided to make a haunted ouija board. After a little research I found a few great examples and decided to make something similar, The overall build is a little complicated but don't let that scare you, you can make this as simple or complicated as you want.
How it works is, under the ouija board there is a motor which actuates an arm with a magnet attached. The speed can be changed and there is also a remote to turn it off and on. On top of the board, the planchette (the thing which moves) has a magnet in it which the arm under board makes move. The cool thing about this is the way the motor moves the arm. There are actually 3 arms which work together to enable the main arm to move side to side. This gives a great motion to the planchette.
Time for the build...
Step 1: Check Out the Clip Below
Step 2: Things to Gather
1. Piece of flat aluminium. 10mm wide by about 500mm should do fine
2. Terminal - eBay
3. A bunch of screws, lock nuts, washers etc. These will be used for attaching the actuator arms
4. Rare earth magnets - eBay
5. 9v battery and holder
6. Speed controller - eBay
6. Vent Actuator (HVAC Motor) - If you are handy you can just grab one from the wreckers. If not you can try eBay eBay - eBay - eBay you can also try the surplus centre in the US or even type Servo Damper Denso into google to bring them up
7. remote control module - eBay
8. Scrap wood
1. Ply board. 4-5mm ply board will work fine
2. Piece of wood for the body. It's up to what kind. I used some pine 150mm x 15mm x1500mm
3. Piece of 1/4 round edging the same length as the wood.
4. Brass screws
5. 4 x brass corner edges
6. Ouija board design printed on by a laser printed paper
7. Mod Podge - eBay
8. wood to make the planchette.
9. Wood stain - any colour you want
10. wood wax
2. Drop saw
3. Stanley knife
7. Sand paper
8. Screwdrivers, Hammer, Wrenches and all those other tools that you have in your toolbox
Step 3: Modding the Motor
Before you can use the motor you'll need to do a small mod.
1. Un-screw the cowling on the motor
2. Find the 2 solder points to the motor. This is where you will need to solder some extra wires
3. Grab some wire and solder about a 300mm piece on each solder point on the motor
4. Screw back on the cowling.
Step 4: Testing the Electronics
The next thing to do is to wire everything up and make sure it all works.
I have attached a schematic which shows how to wire everything up. If you don't want to add the speed controller or the remote on/off, then you can just skip them and just wire the battery to the motor and add a switch. I wanted a little more control so I added a couple of extra control modules
Step 5: Making the Ouija Board - Design
Next thing to do is to make the ouija board. You could just buy one and mount this into a box if your feeling lazy. I wanted to make my own and try my hand at designing one from scratch. I was initially going to find a design on the net and just copy this but I couldn't find one large enough to print clearly.
As I have zero experience with Illustrator, I just designed one on PowerPoint and have included the files so you can also use mine if you want or play around with my designs to make your own.
1. Do some research on the net and find the type of design that works for you.
2. Go into Illustrator, powerPoint, Photoshop or whatever program you can use and start to create your design.
3. For borders I just did a search on Victorian borders or gothic and downloaded my favourite ones. When it can to the images, again I did a search and just made copies of my favourites
4. Once you have your finished designs, you'll need to reverse to crate mirror images of all the letters, words and numbers so they print correctly.
5. Once your happy with the designs, print using a laser printer on a3 sized paper.
I did 5 designs, printed them and then choose the 3 I liked the best to print onto the wood
Step 6: Making the Ouija Board - Printing Onto Wood
1. Once you have your designs the next step is to print the design onto wood.
2. Grab a good paint brush and spread evenly the mod podge on the paper ink side.
3. Next lay the paper down onto some ply wood and smooth out with something flat. Leave to dry for 24 hours.
the YouTube clip below goes into more detail on how to do this if you need more info.
Step 7: Making the Ouija Board - Removing the Paper
1. Once the glue has dried it's time to remove the paper
2. With a wet cloth, dab the paper until you can see the design through the paper.
3. Next rub the paper with your hand so it starts to pull away. This might take some time.
4. Once most of the paper is removed, wet the image again and keep on rubbing until all signs of paper is removed
Step 8: Making the Ouija Board - Cutting and Staining
Once all of the paper has been remove, the next step is to cut and stain the borad/s.
1. You need to make sure that there is enough space around the Ouija board to ensure that when mounted, it isn’t covered by the wood box. If you follow the path I took and router the inside edge of the wood, then you will need to leave about 30mm around the edge of the board
2. When cutting ply you need to be careful when cutting against the grain of the wood. If you use a circular saw you’ll find that it just tears into the wood and splinters it. A tip is to use some masking tape along the spot you want to cut. After my first cut I decided just to use a Stanley knife with a bevelled edge to cut through the wood. It look a little longer but the wood didn’t splinter at all and I got very clean cuts
3. Once you have the Ouija boards cut you need to stain. It’s up to you how deep you want to go with the colour. Give the board a couple of coats and then leave to dry
4. Lastly I gave the board I finally chose a coat of clear varnish. This protected the board and also made it smooth for the planchette to go over.
Step 9: Making the Box
Once you have the ouia board sorted, its time to make the box. This really can be made many different ways, I decided to router the inside so the ouija board could slide into place. You could just as easily add some corner pieces of wood to the inside the box and mount the ouija board too this.
1. Grab your router and set it so it cuts a 6mm groove about 20mm from the top. How far down you make the cut will depend on the height of your edging. Mine was 20mm.
2. Cut a piece of the wood for the box to a length of aprox 500mm long. Router out a groove as above. This section will make up the long sides of the box
3. Put the Ouija board into the groove and mark where you need to cut.
4. For the end sections, you’ll need to make sure that when you are routing these parts, you don’t go right to the ends. This is to ensure you can’t see the actual groove when the box is together.
5. Measure and cut 2 sides and then carefully router the groove remembering to start about 5mm from the start and finishing 5mm before the end.
6. Next screw the box together. I initially went with some plain old steel screws but didn’t like the finish so decided to go with some brass ones and make a feature out of them. Remember – you will need to remove one of the ends to slip the board in so don’t glue anything together and screw one end lightly together.
7. Lastly, cut a piece of ply for the bottom of the box and nail onto the sides. AGAIN REMEMBERING NOT TO NAIL ONTO THE END THAT YOU WILL NEED TO REMOVE LATER.
Step 10: Making the Box - Aging and Staining
To give the box a look that it has been around for a while, I decided to age the wood. This is s simple process but if you want to learn more – check out this 'ible
1. Brew some strong tea paint this onto the wood. Let it dry for 12 hours before moving onto the next step. This will help give the wood a “stained” look
2. Grab a cup of vinegar, any vinegar will do – I used apple vinegar, and cut some 0000 steel wool into it. Mix and leave for 12 hours
3. Once some of the wire has dissolved, you are then ready to paint onto the wood. Paint on the mixture and let dry. I only did one coat as I found it was enough. The more coats you do, the more aged the wood will look.
4. Lastly stain and then add some furniture wax.
I also did this ‘ible which also goes through the process a little further
Step 11: Adding the Motor
I work for a truck company so was lucky to get this vent motor for free. As in the beginning of this ‘ible, you can find these on eBay or even get one from the wreckers. The only change I made was to add a couple of wires and also remove a pin from the lever
1. Work out where the best spot will be to put the motor. Remember, the bar on the motor must be able to move freely so make sure it isn’t too close to the side of the box.
2. I added a small bolt and lock nut to the motor as you can see in the below images. This is where the secondary arm will be mounted.
3. Most likely you will need to raise the motor. This is to ensure that when the main arm is moving side to side, it is close to the bottom of the Ouija board as possible.
4. Glue down a couple of scrap pieces of wood to mount the motor on and also add a piece along one of the long sides of the box. On top of this, glue another piece of wood but make this only about 40mm wide. This is where the main arm will be attached to.
5. Once the glue has dried on the pieces of wood you can then start attaching the motor. Mount into the wood with some screws. If you need to raise the motor use some washers
Step 12: Adding the Arms
Once you have the motor mounted, It’s time to make the arms that will move the magnet side to side. There isn’t any real science behind this, all you need to do is to make sure that when the motor arm is pointing down, the large arm is straight. I have included a drawing which shows this.
1. For the larger arm, cut a piece of aluminium so it is about 30mm from the top of the box.
2. Next drill 3 holes in one of the ends. The reason you do 3 is in case you need to adjust the bar at all.
3. Add a long screw, a couple of washers and a lock nut and tighten so the bar can still move but doesn’t have much play.
4. Drill a hole slightly smaller into the small piece of wood you glued earlier and screw the arm into place. The top of the screw will have to clear the routed section.
5. Next cut a smaller arm. The size of this arm will depend on the distance between the arm on the motor and the main arm. Measure the distance (with the motor arm pointing down and the main arm pointing straight up) and cut. You will also have to drill a hole in the main arm where the 2 arms meet so you can mount them.
6. Drill a couple holes in each end and mount one end to the motor arm. The other end mount to the main arm. Again use screws, washers and lock nuts to hold the arms in place. Do them up so you remove any play in the arms.
7. Lastly test and make sure everything works. See the next step for a clip on how it looks
Step 13: Arm Test
Step 14: Adding the Magnet and Speed Controller
1. Grab something sharp and scuff the bottom of the magnet as well as the top of the main bar. \this will enusre the glue has something to grab hold of.
2. Add some good strong glue and attach the magnet on the bar. let set for a couple of hours.
1. Remove the knob on the speed controller
2. Drill a hole in the side of the box big enough to fit the end of the speed controller. Push it through the hole and screw down the controller as per the below image.
Step 15: Modding the Remote Receiver
1. De-solder the ir receiver from the module
2. Attach 3 wires to each of the legs of the ir receiver
3. Solder the wires to the module making sure that each wire is soldered to the correct solder pad
3. Drill a hole next to the one that was made for the speed controller
4. Screw down the module to the inside of the box as shown below.
5. Next tape the ir receiver against the hole you just drilled. Make sure the sensor is facing out.
Step 16: Battery Door
1. Mark out on the bottom of the box a small rectangle big enough to use to change the battery.
2. I used a stanley knife to cut out the section. Yes it took long than a saw but it made sure the cuts were done correctly.
3. Sand the edges of the door and the opening
4. Next glue on a small hinge and a magnet onto the door as shown.
5. Once the glue has dried, attach another magnet so it will act as a latch
6. Add some velcro to the battery and stick it to the inside of then box
Step 17: Final Touches
1. It's now time to slip into place the ouija board. First un-screw one end of the box. Remember how you kept a couple of the screws a little loose. This is the reason why!
2. Carefully slide the board into the grooves and push into place, making sure that it slides into
2. Once in place, turn on the motor and check if the magnet is hitting the bottom of the ouija board. if not, add a few more magnets as shown in the images. They should rub against the top of the board.
Step 18: Penultimate Step for the Box
1. Screw back into place the end board. Make sure that the groove fits into the end of the ouija board.
2. Add the corner brass edgings
Step 19: Adding the Corner Edgings
1. Measure and cut the corner edging pieces. I just used a drop saw and cut each end at 45 degrees. Pretty simple but it wasn't actually something i'd done before so I was pretty chuffed on how they turned out,.
2. Next stain each piece and once dry add some furniture wax.
3,. To enable the sides to be removed and also to be able to slide out the actual board, I decided to screw the corner pieces from the outside. Plus the screws I picked are quite decorative and add a little bling to the box
Step 20: Making the Planchette
1. Draw your design on a piece of wood. I just used a odd bit of wood that I had lying around
2. Cut out the basic shape and then use a dremel with a sanding bit to create then curve in the planchette
Step 21: Sand Away
The piece of scrape wood I used was from a fence paling so it was a bit rough. I had to give it a good sanding to get the finish I wanted.
1. Sand the top and sides of the planchette until you have the finish you want. The smoother the better.
2. Next drill a hole about 1/3 from the top. Sand the hole until smooth
Step 22: Adding Wax
1. Once you have the finish you want, it's time to wax the planchette.
2. Rub the wax onto the wood and then remove any excess. This will bring out the grain ion the wood. I did think about paining it to make it darker but I think it looks good raw
Step 23: Test Planchette
Before I went ahead and started to drill holes and add magnets to my planchette, I decided to make an test one. This was just a scrape piece of wood (again) where I added some pieces of felt and where I could also move the magnet around to decide the best position. I suggest you do this as It will give you some ideas on where to attach the magnet top the planchette.
Step 24: Adding the Magnet and Felt Feet
1. Once you decide the best place to add the magnet, create a small cut-out section in the bottom of the planchette and glue the magnet into place. Remember to make sure that the polarities are correct!
2. I also added some felt feet so the planchette moved smoothly across the ouija board.
Step 25: Done - Finally!
So you should now have your very own, haunted ouija board. Hopefully the planchette moves smooth across the board and all the controls work as they should. This was a really fun and interesting project and I really had fun making it. Although it does take some time to make, it was definitely worth making it.
I'll add some photos from Halloween to the 'ible as soon as I can.
if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments