Introduction: Make Your Own "Iron" Throne
Do you dream of being King of the cul-de-sac? Or how about Lord of the lawn? If so, then you're going to need a throne! We built a Game of Thrones inspired Iron Throne for our medieval-themed Halloween party. It's not, by any means, a sword by sword replica of the one on HBO, but it was a real hit. It's made of common materials and just takes time to put together. That sure beats spending 30 grand for an official copy!
Our main requirements were having a throne of respectable size and enough heft and durability to handle party guests (some in chain mail) posing on it throughout the evening.
We built this over the course of three weeks (although someone could probably reproduce it in at least half that time) with roughly the following materials:
- a plastic Adirondack chair
- 1/2" pink foam insulation - roughly two 4x8'sheets
- metal tie-down strapping, I used about 8' in length
- wooden yardsticks, I used about two dozen of them
- several sheets of 1/8" thick craft foam
- various screws, duct tape, liquid nails, and latex caulk
- latex primer paint, grey spray paint, metallic paints
And for the platform:
- 4x4' piece of 1/2" plywood
- a couple 2x4 boards
- one 2x2 board
- two stair risers (or make your own)
- two 1"x12" boards 4' long for the stairs
- screws and paint
Step 1: Finding a Swordless Seat
You can certainly build the throne completely from scratch, but you'll save time by starting with a chair to build off from. I found a plastic Adirondack chair that made a great, inexpensive (less than 15 bucks), and lightweight starting point. The flared, vertical slates of the back resemble the shape we're after and the high chunky armrests are a good foundation to build from.
Step 2: Elevating Your Art
With the base chair selected, I was able to start sizing the whole project in terms of rough height, width, and depth. I decided I'd build a platform for the throne with a couple steps since you really don't want to be looking up to anyone if you're sitting in the Iron Throne.
Don't forget: If you're not building at this on-the-spot, it's very important to keep things sized, or modular, so you'll later be able to fit through doorways! In my case the throne can be moved separate of the platform, and the throne can *just* be angled to get through 36" doorways.
The platform was framed with 2x4 lumber, with one cross piece and extra bracing right under where the rear chair legs will rest (with the majority of the weight). Legs were added with 2x4s and 2x2s and 1/2" plywood was attached to the top.
Since the Adirondack leans back quite a bit, I added a 2x4 toward the back of the platform to raise the rear chair legs. I also added some extra bracing to support the back of the chair because it's quite flexible.
Step 3: Framing With Sticks
Next I used yardsticks to flesh out some key shapes of the throne. Yardsticks are a great building material because they are straight, sturdy, and cheap - these cost about 70 cents a piece at a home improvement store.
I used short, flat head screws to attach the yardsticks to the chair, taking care that the screw points always faced away from the seating surfaces. I extended yardsticks from each of the chairs vertical slats, most of these would later become sword handles.
I widened the shape of the front legs, and used a bit of 2x4 to join multiple sticks at the bottom. I also began to close in the sides of the chair (inside and out) with a couple criss-crossing yardsticks.
Step 4: Layering Up the First Few Swords
This existing back of the chair will become swords pointing down. I cut strips of pink foam insulation and liquid nailed it to one side of the yardsticks to begin forming swords. The thickness of the foam (1/2 inch) evens it out nicely with the chair surface. In the area of the sword handles I just cut it down to the width of the yardstick.
On either side of the chair back, we'll have our the first couple upward pointing swords. Same routine here: rough cut foam to a taper and glue it to the front of the two yardsticks.
Then I repeated those steps to glue foam on the backside of the yardsticks. For the downward swords the foam was trimmed so it'd fit right into the back of the chair. There will be a little gap (the width of the yardstick) between the front and back foam pieces so small strips were glued in to fill that in. In the later images you can see the sanding process starting to shape the handle and blade areas. There was a LOT of sanding ahead at this point, but an electric palm sander helps tremendously.
I also began adding foam pieces for the hilt guards. For most of these I left off the back half of the guards because there would be another layer of swords behind them. In the photos you can also see the foam starting to get primed with latex paint (to seal it against the spray paint later).
Step 5: And Now a Thousand More!
From here it's a matter of adding a LOT more blade shapes to fill in the open spaces on the sides and cover the chair surfaces. I used some different materials for this.
First I found some 1" wide metal tie-down strapping, that I bent around the arms in a few spots. This is sturdy metal so, along with the yardsticks, it helped add a framework to build off of. It's possible to cut yourself on the edges of the metal so I covered it with duct tape around the arm rest.
Then I cut a bunch of strips of craft foam - 1/8" or so thickness is good here - around 1" to 1.5" wide. I started with simple rectangular strips, but then cut a tapered point to them. The craft foam is a great addition since it can wrap and weave around chair shapes and glue down easily. Also, even with adding it all over the chair surfaces, the chair will remain comfortable - not that comfort is really a feature of the Iron Throne.
Next I needed a few swords in front that, well looked better than simple strips, so I want back to carving up pink insulation foam. The four swords on the front of the chair are shorter, but were built just like the ones on the back of the chair.
Then it was just a matter of filling things in more and more. Vary the direction of each piece, but follow the lines of the chair when possible. In the television throne there are no open spaces you can see through, it's just solid swords, but I decided to stop short of that, to shave off some time, but also to avoid turning this into a big blob.
Step 6: The Last Few Swords
With the sides and front of the chair pretty well filled in I just needed to finish some layers of foam on the chair seat and back and, most importantly add a row of blades along the top to finish off the iconic look. I decided on adding 7 blades fanning out around the top, placing them between each of the foam swords we made earlier. Here again you can go crazy and make a couple dozen, but this was a good number without crowding things too much. Here again I spent a couple more hours with the palm sander to shape everything.
A couple of wooden spheres were added to give the front swords pommels. They are attached by screws from the underside of the chair's arms.
Before the next step of painting I used a bunch of latex caulk to fill any gaps around the entire project. It did a good job of smoothing the layers together to give it a melted together appearance.
Step 7: Painting and Last Touches
Making sure all the foam insulation was primed first, the entire chair was then spray painted. A thorough coat of dark grey primer was used first. Then I followed up with a coat or two of "hammered steel" paint. The hammered paint doesn't impart much texture to the throne, but it does give it an evenness to all the different materials used.
Gold and copper highlights were added next to set off the pommels and hilt guards. These were mostly just washes to add character without getting too shiny.
Thinned black paint was brushed on to darken the sword handles and to better define all the foam edges and give the layers more dimension. To add some highlights to some of the blades I rubbed on some oil-based aluminum colored paint. It's subtle, but the extra metallic finish catches the light a little more.
And that's pretty much it. The chair was placed on top of the platform and I screwed down the back two legs just to keep it from shifting. All assembled it reaches over seven feet tall.
Not only is an Iron Throne decoration awesome in it's own right, but you'll have a ton of great pictures with party guests posing on it!