Introduction: How to Make a Scary Wooden Fence Picket Skull

Picture of How to Make a Scary Wooden Fence Picket Skull

Trick and treat your neighbors with this scary wooden skull. Hang it on the fence close to the front door or hang it ON the front door to help greet your trick-or-treaters on Halloween. This project is fairly easy and inexpensive to make. All you need are a couple of power tools and wooden fence pickets to get stared

Step 1: Supplies

1) Fence Pickets - I used Red Cedar (5/8-in x 5-1/2-in x 6-ft) which are about $2.50 each. One picket makes one (1) skull head approximately 18" x 12" in size. You can make smaller skull heads by using smaller fence pickets (5/8 in. x 3-1/2 in. x 6 ft) which are about $1.50 each.

2) Skull pattern

3) Jigsaw

4) Drill and drill bits

5) Eye protection

6) Wood dowel rods

7) Wood glue


Small screws

Chain for hanging

Black shelf liner material

Step 2: Capture and Resize Skull Pattern

Picture of Capture and Resize Skull Pattern

1) Click on skull pattern above and hit 'print scrn' on your keyboard then copy and paste it into Photoshop (or other photo editors). Resize the image so that the center portion is the size of your fence picket width; 5-1/2 inches for 5/8-in x 5-1/2-in x 6-ft pickets

Full pattern size is about 20'' X 20"

2) Save the file and take it to FedEx Kinkos (or other custom printing establishments) and have the pattern printed


Use the attached Photoshop (psd) file for printing. Just take this file to FedEx Kinkos and they can copy the pattern for printing. Pattern is for the 5-1/2-in wide pickets

FedEx Kinkos charges $0.75 a square foot to print so this should cost around $2.00

Step 3: Trace and Cut

Picture of Trace and Cut

1) Cut out the paper skull pattern and place each piece on the fence picket and trace around it with a black marker

2) Cut out all wood pieces with a jigsaw by following the black marker lines as a guide (make sure to use eye protection for this step)

NOTE : Cutting out the nose can be a bit tricky. I drilled a hole through the center of nose first to allow for the jigsaw blade. No worries if the nose doesn't look like the pattern. I messed up a few times and ended up making a triangular nose instead and it looked great.

Step 4: Skull Head Assembly

Picture of Skull Head Assembly

1) Draw 6 straight lines across the wood skull pieces with a pencil as noted in diagram

2) Using the jigsaw, cut the dowel rod into 1/2 inch size pieces

3) Using a drill, drill holes into the side of skull pieces about 1/4 inch deep using the pencil lines as guides. This will help keep the drill bit as straight as possible as you drill. This will also help ensure that the holes in both mating pieces line up during assembly

4) Starting with the left skull piece, fill the drilled holes with a small amount of wood glue and place a small dowel rod piece in each of the three holes

5) Fill the three left-center skull holes with glue and fit the two pieces together

6) Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the right skull and center-right skull pieces

NOTE: Drill bit and dowel rod sizes are dependent on wood thickness. Try to make drilled holes no larger that half the thickness of the wood

Step 5: Finished Fence Picket Skull

Picture of Finished Fence Picket Skull

Here are pictures of the finished product. This one is approximately 18" X 12" in size.

It's a bit large but it looks great on the fence AND it's relatively inexpensive to make !!!

Step 6: Optional Ideas

Picture of Optional Ideas

If you want your skull to have black color (or any other color) behind the eyes, nose and mouth you can add black shelf liner material (or other materials) to the back. Just cut out the liner and screw it to the back. I also added chain to mine for hanging

Step 7: Other Fence Picket Skulls

Picture of Other Fence Picket Skulls

Here are a few more Fence Picket Skulls that I made.

Some I left 'naked' (raw wood) and others I stained with wood stain.

I also found some old weathered fence pickets and made skulls out of them too.


james.bowen2 made it! (author)2016-10-30

I made a few for my kids to paint. I added LED lights set inside styrofoam balls.

Luckily I own a Biscuit/Plate Joiner connect the pieces together.

KarenK116 (author)james.bowen22016-10-31

these look great and I bet the kids had a ball painting them :) Thanks for sharing. I love em :)

KentH8 made it! (author)2016-10-29

Just Completed the Skull. I used a piece of 1/4" plywood backing from a project from last Halloween so it was already painted black. Cut it with a jigsaw. I use a 1/2" drill bit in 4 places to start the nose for the jigsaw. I used 3/4" #8 self tapping screws to to hold it onto the plywood. Also used some picture frame wire in the back to hold it onto the door hanger, and painted it with white florescent paint. Keep up with the excellent projects!

KarenK116 (author)KentH82016-10-30

wow! This looks great !!! Good job :)!

followyourheart (author)2016-10-02

Thanks for sharing, I might make a few!

I hope ya do and I would love to see them if you make any.

I made three smaller than you did. I used basic 1" x 4" strapping, so they came out 7 1/2" wide x 10 1/2" long. I cut them out with my jigsaw and glued the pieces without dowels. Next time I think I'll just cut them out of plywood. They hang from my tree outside my small shop. Here's a link to my blog:

Thanks again Karen!

nice work. They look great ! Thanks for sharing your creations :)

adam.stahnke made it! (author)2016-10-09

Ok, here we go. First time posting. I used pallet wood with different thicknesses. I sprayed it with a light coat of primer, painted the inside of the cut outs black and backed them with a recycled canvas I painted black. The cross bones are a little comical, but add to the look. I placed it on the door of my small space workshop.

KarenK116 (author)adam.stahnke2016-10-09

Wow!! I love it!!! It looks terrific! Great idea with the cross bones :)

ShawnA42 made it! (author)2016-10-02

Saw this earlier today, went to Home Depot, and just got done making it.

You can fit the lower jaw piece on the top-right of the board if you squeeze it in and slightly modify its angle (not that noticeable).

KarenK116 (author)ShawnA422016-10-03

OMG !!! I love it and I love that you used a scroll saw. It looks like you have a nice wood shop. My wood shop is on the back patio . . . . hahahaha AND it was a great idea to fit the lower jaw in up to the top-right. GREAT job Shawn. I LOVE IT !!!

ShawnA42 (author)KarenK1162016-10-08

I wish I had a great setup! It's taken over by the wife's Etsy business so I do most of my work at the edge of the garage so that I don't get wood particles everywhere! Thanks

ShawnA42 (author)ShawnA422016-10-02

I bought 2 pieces of wood and will be making a second one, maybe a third with being able to move the lower jaw to the top-right. I used a scroll saw instead of a jig and then a belt sander. I should've sanded the wood before cutting and done a better finishing sanding job after cutting up. I also slightly messed up the dowel drilling by not keeping them completely centered so don't have a flat piece. But other than that it's pretty cool. Oh, and the wood I got at Home Depot was SUPER wet inside. When I started drilling, I got crazy wet/moist wood shavings. Thanks for the instructions!

KarenK116 (author)ShawnA422016-10-03

Are you going to paint it or leave it raw ?

ShawnA42 (author)KarenK1162016-10-08

We will paint it orange and have a black backing.. I wanted to let the wood dry out some more and should've let the wood from the store dry out before doing the project too.

sstone137 made it! (author)2016-10-07

Well, I saw this a few days ago and thought it would be perfect for this years big Halloween party! :) I did a little edit to the file and created one solid piece and scaled it up a little. I fit two skulls to a full sheet of plywood. I used a CNC machine to cut them out, and gave them a paint job to match our theme. I think they came out great. Thanks for the awesome design!

KarenK116 (author)sstone1372016-10-07

OMG !!! These look terrific. GREAT JOB !!! I never thought to make them one solid piece. SUPER job and thanks for sharing :)

Jaybhill (author)2016-10-04

KarenK116, thank you for the creative and well-thought-out instructable. Really strong work, young lady! My 2 year old son, Alton, and I now have our "Whatever We Want Wednesday" project for tomorrow! I'll post pics of the two of us in action tomorrow and am really looking forward to seeing his face light up when he sees the finished product come together. Thank you for helping me blow his mind and for the fun we're going to have re-creating your work. If you accomplish nothing else tomorrow, know that you helped a single father make another wonderful memory to share with his only son. You have my vote.

KarenK116 (author)Jaybhill2016-10-05

Oh you made my day Jay :). Thank you so much for the very kind words. I hope you and your son have a delightful day today making the skull and I can't wait to see the final product. Have fun you two :) :) :) :) :)

Jaybhill (author)KarenK1162016-10-06

Well, we didn't get past the home depot trip - have a few other projects going on and ended up making the materials run our day's activity. 2 year olds make horrible contractors - jobs are never on-schedule and always cost more than the original estimate. But we had a good time shopping and will hit it again this weekend, with pics to follow. Thanks again and good luck!

KarenK116 (author)Jaybhill2016-10-06

Yes, those things always happen, especially with a 2 year old. I'm looking forward to your picutures.

clark77494 (author)2016-10-06

Going to make it this weekend. I'm going to use it as a door hanger for Halloween. Instead of using Dowels, I'm going to fasten it to 1/4" plywood, since I have plenty of scrap stock. Keep the excellent ideas coming! :-)

KarenK116 (author)clark774942016-10-06

That is an excellent idea Clark !!! Please post some pics ....

EvelynF3 (author)2016-10-05

This is a great idea! Love the clear and concise directions. Thank you!!

KarenK116 (author)EvelynF32016-10-06


Klappstuhl (author)2016-10-04

Could add a sensor to it and make the lower jaw move with a servo as well, come to think ot it! Maybe use a Raspberry Pi to have it make a scary laugh as well! :D

KarenK116 (author)Klappstuhl2016-10-04

That would be awesome .....

Ltleredwtch (author)2016-10-03

Voted for you! I am going to make this! Will post photo when done. I am going to paint the openings with gid paint.

KarenK116 (author)Ltleredwtch2016-10-04

Thanks for the vote. Post up some pics if you make any. I love seeing what everyone does with it

KarenK116 (author)Ltleredwtch2016-10-03

Thanks for the vote and I can't wait to see your creation. I can't wait to see what it looks like painted :)

Cris DIY (author)2016-10-04

I kiked this very much! Maybe I´ll try to make one too :). (voted)

KarenK116 (author)Cris DIY2016-10-04

Thanks for the vote. I hope you make one :)

JanineY1 (author)2016-10-04

Love it!!! Can't wait to make a few!! This is right up my alley..

Mokra (author)2016-10-02

Cant beat using a CNC to cut them :D. Copy the picture, go to SVG, use Fusion 360 to scale the 5.5". Than cut and place to fit on the wood :D. Great idea love it :D Voted for ya

KarenK116 (author)Mokra2016-10-03

WOW !! I wish I had one :) :) Thanks for the vote

TwistedFrosty (author)2016-10-02

You should try one of these white paint skull with bright green eyes and mouth and put it under a black light

KarenK116 (author)TwistedFrosty2016-10-03

Great idea !!

jennikaye72 (author)2016-10-02

LOVE IT - what an awesome idea!! BTW, I voted for you to win the Halloween contest sponsored by Instructables! Good luck & I hope you win!! : )

ShawnA42 (author)jennikaye72 2016-10-02

I voted as well!

KarenK116 (author)ShawnA422016-10-03

Thanks for the vote :)

KarenK116 (author)jennikaye72 2016-10-02

Thanksfor the wonderful comment and thanks for the vote too

ShawnA42 (author)2016-10-02

If you're printing from home and don't know how to resize everything correctly, just save this image and print it at 100%. To do this, go into "Page Setup" and adjust the Print Scaling to 100% normal size. Do not let it "Fit to Page". It should print on either 4 or 6 pieces of paper which you can then stitch together using tape or transferring it to a piece of large cardboard.

KarenK116 (author)ShawnA422016-10-02

Great idea Shawn. Thanks for the information. It will come on handy for those that don't want to get it printed other than home.

jgudmundson (author)2016-10-02

Really like this, going to Home Depot and get materials to do this !

KarenK116 (author)jgudmundson2016-10-02

I love that your going to make one. Please post a pic when your finished

patpenguin (author)2016-10-02

Well done Instructable! We will definitely be making some of these. Thank you for putting this together. Great explanations, great pictures, very well done.

KarenK116 (author)patpenguin2016-10-02

Thank you so much for the nice comments. I hope ya make some of these. They are really fun and great for Halloween. Put up some pics if ya make any. I would love to see them

seamster (author)2016-09-29

This is such a great idea!

I've got so much scrap wood piling up in my garage.. this is a perfect way to use up some of it. Simple idea and wonderfully executed. Nice!

KarenK116 (author)seamster2016-09-29

Thanks, it is a good way to use up old wood. The older the wood the better the skull looks. Put up some pics if you make any. I'd love to see em

About This Instructable




Bio: Recently I read that there are over 60 million American households that participate in some form of crafting in a given year. Well, I am ... More »
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