Introduction: 1:2 Scale - Ark of the Covenant

Exodus 37:1-9 (NIV)

"Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long [3.75 ft], a cubit and a half wide [2.25 ft], and a cubit and a half high [2.25]. 2 He overlaid it with pure gold, both inside and out, and made a gold molding around it. 3 He cast four gold rings for it and fastened them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. 4 Then he made poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. 5 And he inserted the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it. 6 He made the atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 7 Then he made two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 8 He made one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; at the two ends he made them of one piece with the cover. 9 The cherubim had their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim faced each other, looking toward the cover."

As a person who makes a living working with his hands, and burns much of his precious time stalking the rest of you as you build some amazing things with your hands as well, it would come as no surprise that when the Bible gets really specific about the size of something, and says that God blesses these craftsmen with "supernatural" abilities to create, that my interest would be peaked. I was given the opportunity to create an art project as the final to a World Religion class I am taking, and could think of nothing better than the "Ark of the Covenant."

On a side note, I have been a member here since 2007 - when member: "Honus" dragged me in, via an internet search on how to make a light-up Green Lantern ring - and this is my first time making a contribution to the site... shame on me.

Step 1: Design

"Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long [3.75 ft], a cubit and a half wide [2.25 ft], and a cubit and a half high [2.25]."

Originally, I had envisioned a full scale wooden replica of the Ark, but once I started pricing everything, and considering my tight deadline (as I may have procrastinated until nearly the end of the semester) I reconsidered size and material. I was looking at roughly $200 in material by my original estimate, but by shrinking down to 1:2 scale, and choosing to work with 3/16" foam board, I drastically reduced cost, down to around $35.

In the design phase, I scaled down the given dimensions for the "box," but was then faced with sizing the other components (handles, knobs, attachment rings, cherubim, etc.) Once I had a vague design in hand, off I went acquiring materials.

Step 2: Materials

Foam Board - the most common size available is 3/16" x 20" x 30" in all of the basic colors, and can be found just about anywhere: Target, Meijer, Wal-Mart, Hobby Stores, but I hadn't thought to look where my wife took me, which was the local dollar store. All of the other retailers wanted $2-3 each sheet, and I managed to get away for $1 each... score!

Wooden Dowel Rod - I used 1/2" x 36" rods, and they looked good at this half scale size. I picked up the rods and a pack of caps for them both at Hobby Lobby - don't forget to grab your coupon before you go 40% off.

And then it's off to Lowes.

There I grabbed a few brass hooks from the hardware isle, 7/8" in size if memory serves correct.

Spray Paint: Allow me, if you will, to shamelessly plug Valspar spray paint. It is only my humble opinion, but I swear by this stuff. A good paint job is 80% prep work, but if you go through all the trouble of prepping properly, why not use a good paint too. A few years back, the wife and I tried it out when reconditioning and old "Power Wheel" toy, and the Valspar stuff worked great. I worked in an industrial paint shop as part of my apprenticeship, and could tell by the smell of the chemicals, that this paint was closer to the high quality stuff than your average rattle-can. No, I don't work for them, but at $4 a can, I suggest you give them a try.

Anyways, then there's the stuff I had on hand already; pretty pink glue gun with lots of hot glue sticks, razor blade knife with extra blades, slightly rusty steel square, scrap wood to keep me from slicing into the carpet or kitchen table.

Step 3: Cut & Chop

Once you have acquired your raw goods, and return home from completing your super-manly shopping trip - look, a glue gun is a type of power tool, right? - It's time to start katana slicing your foam board. I suggest using the steel rule to measure your needed lengths and making small pencil lines. Then use the steel square to align the pencil marks - and keeping the scrap wood behind the cut line - use the square as a straight edge to make your cut using the razor knife. I opted for a wavy molding around the top and bottom of the box portion, and I remember reading somewhere that it was a 3" molding, so my half-scale replica had to become 1.5." Across the top molding, I actually added 3/16" so that the lid would be captured inside of the molding, and rest on top of all the side panels.

Step 4: Foam Board... ASSEMMMMBLE!

I found the best way to attack this part was to attach things with masking tape first, and hot glue them while they were taped. Not all of the foam board was perfectly flat, but some heavy text books made quick work of that. I pretty much glued every edge that I could find. If the paper wouldn't soak through, this thing could probably hold water.

Step 5: Cherubim

With the box, trim, and lid out of the way, it was time to figure out how the heck am I going to make these cherubim. I wouldn't consider myself particularly adept at art (that's part of why my project is a big box) but I decided to try free-handing what I wanted them to look like. I made as many straight edges as possible, assuming that would make it easier to cut with a razor blade (and it was!)

Step 6: Painty McPaint Paint

Step 7: The Final Details