Lumberjack Dummy Costume

Introduction: Lumberjack Dummy Costume

It's a tradition in my high school that all the seniors dress up and participate in a parade around the school. After hours and hours of planning, I used this idea (got it from America's Got Talent) and decided to make it my own. Overall, I am really glad that it turned out AMAZING. I got a LOT of compliments on it during the parade. All of the little's were in awe and it was one of the best parts this year so far. A lot of people asked me how I made it, and I'd give them a simple description, but then I thought I should publish a detailed instruction guide to how I made it. I'm a fan of, so I thought it was a good place to show you all how I made it.

Keep in mind, the only reason I made it lumberjacks is because it was cheaper to get flannels and old jeans than buying three individual costumes. If you have the funds, you can really do a lot with this idea. Before I came up with lumberjacks, I contemplated doing Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the Harry Potter series, two police officers and a "criminal" in between, the three stooges, and many other ideas that related to popular movies or tv shows. But like I said, lumberjacks were the cheapest. So this instructable will be how I did my costume in respect with the lumberjack idea.

This project will cost you anywhere between $100-150, given you have most of the tools needed. You can probably make it cheaper if you take your time and look for deals. In all honesty, I procrastinated and I did it the weekend before Halloween so I was in a bit of a rush.

What you will need:


  • Drill and 1/4 drill bit
  • Power saw (you can make do with a hand saw but a power saw really saves time)
  • Measuring Tape
  • Fabric measurement tape
  • Paintbrushes
  • Hammer
  • Sharp knife and/or scissors
  • Clothing thread cutting tool
  • Lighter
  • Sharpie
  • Fabric Needle
  • Vice
  • Hot glue gun
  • Paracord needle (not necessary but it really helps)


  • Flannels (3)
  • Old Jeans (3)
  • Old shoes (2 pair)
  • Foam heads (2)
  • Beanies (3)
  • Fake beards (2-3, depending on if you want to wear one as well).
  • Duct tape (Gray and Black)
  • Old Belts (5-6)
  • Paracord (100ft)
  • Wooden pole (about the size of a broom handle or smaller)
  • Thread
  • PVC (One 1" pole and five 3/4" poles, they come in 10ft each)
  • PVC fittings
    • 90 degree fittings (4, size:3/4")
    • three-way fitting (2, size 3/4")
    • four-way fitting (2, size 3/4")
  • Nails (about the size you would use to hang up a picture)

You will need a good amount of space to build this costume. When I made mine, I took up a lot of my basement. Also, this project took me over 24hrs to build. Granted, some of it was fixing mistakes I made, but 24hrs is a good estimate. On another note, I am very inclined when it comes to building projects like this, which means I am really good with power saws and drills. If you think you need help with power tools, have someone help you. You really don't want to mess with something that can easily cut your dominant hand off.

I did the majority of this project by myself, although I did get some help from my grandpa. I strongly advise you get someone to help you, especially when it comes to putting the costume on. It can be a hassle to say the least.

Step 1: Planning and Measurements

Before you start building, you are going to need a plan. Find out a place to build, stores where you can find all your materials, and where you are going to use the power tools (picking up sawdust from a basement carpet isn't fun). Also you need to measure yourself so the costume will fit you. The measurements I am going to provide will be the ones that applied to me. I am 5'9" with a medium build, so that can give you a good idea.

Here is where I got all of my supplies:

  • I got the majority of the clothes from my local goodwill (a thrift shop). The only thing I used that I already had were the gloves and jeans that I was going to wear. You need to make sure that at least one of the flannels and one pair of jeans are going to fit you. The other dummy lumberjacks aren't going to be picky on what size they are going to wear, but I advise that you make them a little larger than they need to be. It makes life easier on you if the dummies can move with ease. I also advise that you getting smaller shoes for the dummies. You wouldn't believe how easily they can get caught on things.
  • the dummy heads are made of styrofoam and I got them at Joann Fabrics. I pained them a similar color to my own skin tone and i got the colors i needed there (my skin tone, a darker shade of my skin tone, and blue for the eyes).
  • I got the fake beards at a Halloween store, although I'm sure you can find a way to make your own. the "beard" I wore was actually eyeliner, and that lasted all day long. So I'd say either get some brownish eyeliner, face paint, etc.
  • The PVC and the fittings I got at my local hardware store. Surprisingly, they were a lot cheaper than I thought, so that was a nice surprise.

Thankfully, I have access to all the tools I needed so I didn't have to worry about that. Although, if you don't have easy access to these tools, I'm sure you can find some people who would be happy to help out with that.

In this stage, make sure you have a general procedure on how you are going to build this project. Having a plan like this helps save time.

Step 2: The Attaching Poles

These are pretty much the most important part of this costume. This is what makes the dummies move as you move. In my planning, I had a PVC pole at almost every major joint. This came out to be a total of ten poles that would connect me to my impressive-bearded friends. Two for each ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, and hand. I have seen other designs where people also have the elbows, but I decided against it mostly because it would be even more of a hassle to put the costume on and off.

I have found that a good length for the connecting poles to be 52". I wouldn't advise going too much longer or shorter than this. Basically I measured my shoulder to my fingertip and got 26" and multiplied that number. This means that when the project was done, I can touch each dummy if I had to make last minute adjustments to the clothes.

Because you have 10 PVC poles, you can only get two 52" poles out of 10'. Cut out two 52" poles out of the 1" diameter PVC pole, and eight 52" poles out of four 3/4" diameter poles. Make sure you have one 3/4" x 10' pole uncut.

Now that you have 10 attaching poles, you need to drill the holes. Start with the 3/4" diameter poles and drill a hole through the pole at each end. Make sure the holes are drilled from the same direction. Next, drill one hole in the middle from the same direction as the other two (remember, half of 52" is 26"). This is where a sharpie and measuring tape really come in handy. Note that all the 3/4" attaching poles except two will have holes in the middle. The ones without the holes in the middle will be used for moving the hands.

The two poles that have a diameter of 1" will be used as the poles for the shoulder. They are going to take on the most weight (thus the reason they are thicker than any other pole). Like the 3/4" poles, you are going to drill a hole at each end. The holes in the middle, however, are different. Instead of one hole, you are going to drill two holes that are perpendicular to the holes at the end. Make sure these holes are centered, and that they have about ~1" of space in between.

Now that the cutting and drilling is done, it is time to wrap the poles. This step is optional, but I think it looks better warped than have it stay white and expose the writing that comes from the factory. To wrap the poles, I used black duct tape. I found that it is easier to wrap it longways instead of going around and around the pole like you would normally wrap a cylinder (it also saves tape, and looks better). When you wrap, make sure that you don't cover the holes at the end and in the middle.

Step 3: The Dummy Frame

The frame for this dummy is actually pretty simple. I could've made it more complicated but I didn't feel it was necessary. This is where the body measurements come into use.

*For future reference, whenever I tell you to cut a piece of rope, fuse each end of the rope so it doesn't fray. To fuse it, use the lighter and melt the end of the rope until it is just about to boil (this doesn't take long) and then wait for it to cool down. This will save rope in the end, so trust me on this one.*


-When in doubt, overestimate the lengths. You can always make a pvc pole shorter, but you can' make it longer once its cut (unless you have a special fitting)

-Cut the longest pole first, and work your way down to the shortest pole.

-Don't glue anything together until you are absolutely sure it will fit you and the rest of your costume. I suggest waiting until the last step to glue things together.

-Write down the measurements in a notebook

-Take in account the size of the fittings, they can add up to 1 1/2" to the total length.

-Do your best to not waste material. You don't want to go back to the hardware store to get another 10' PVC pole just because a certain piece is just too short by an inch.

-Remember the pieces you cut for the attaching poles? there should still be some pieces left over that can be used.

When you look at my plan, you will see that there is no thigh piece. That is no mistake. There actually isn't supposed to be one. There is only supposed to be rope there. In fact, the majority of the joints will be rope. The rope that I used is called paracord, and when I used it on the dummies it helped them move with ease.

Note that when you are cutting the shoulders and hips, you need to cut that total length in half because the fittings don't let you put the pole through. You also need to subtract the open space in the fitting from the total length of the shoulders/hips.

Use my plan as a template of sorts, but remember this is based on my body measurements and it surely won't work for everyone. For example, the length of the poles that go into the shoes will vary.

When all the pieces are cut, you start drilling holes like you did for the connecting poles. For the shoulders and hips, drill two parallel holes next to each other at one end of the piece. For the legs, drill one hole at one of the ends of the piece. For the arm pieces, drill a hole at each end, making sure that they are parallel with each other. At the ankles of the dummy, drill a hole in the 90 degree fitting without drilling into the connecting poles. Near the shoulders of the dummy, drill a hole in the 4-way at the side that fits the torso part. Make sure you drill into the torso pole.

Now that all the pieces are cut and the holes are drilled, you can start assembling the dummy frame. Make sure the hole between the torso and the-way fitting line up. When you tie the arms to the shoulders, make sure that they can move easily in any direction, making sure the lengths between are as short as possible. When you tie the legs to the hips, make sure there is at least a foot in between the two pieces, but I strongly advise you have an additional half foot of rope there for adjustments. That also goes for the arm pieces. The last piece of rope you will need to assemble the frame will be for the hole we drilled in the torso and 4-way fitting. In the end, that will give us the option to disconnect the top from the bottom of the dummy.

Step 4: Making the Harnesses.

The harnesses are what connect us to the rest of the costume. Without the harnesses, the dummies can't move as we move. For this project, we use a total of six harnesses, and they are made out of the old belts we have collected.

The legs are more simple than the chest, so we will start with those. In my design, we need four leg harnesses, two for the ankles, and two for the knees. They are both the same design, and the only difference is the size of them because our knees have a wider diameter than our ankles. The knee harnesses are actually going to be placed right above our knee, that makes it easier to move around.

The leg harnessed can be made by two belts. First, sever each belt from the buckle, you aren't going to need that. Second, cut the belt in half. Wrap the half belt around your ankle or lower thigh (depending on which harness you are working on) and cut it to size. Make sure you have an additional 3 inches to work with. Once it is cut to size, drill two holes at one end of the belt and one hole at the other end. Cut a piece of rope, and tie a knot the end of one end. Thread the rope starting at the side with two holes, and thread into the hole closest to the end of the belt. Continue the thread into the neighbor hole. Make the belt into a circle and thread the hole into the last hole at the other end of the belt and tie a knot. Do not cut the excess rope. Do this for each leg harness.

(Note: you may not be able to tie a knot after threading the rope through the last hole on your ankle harnesses. The idea is to get the harnesses on and off easily. I was able to tie a knot in my knee harnesses but not my ankle harnesses.)

The waist harness is quite simple actually. First, get a belt that fits you and put it on as well as well as the pair of jeans you will be wearing with the costume. When you look at the sides of your jeans, you will see the seams that go all the way down the pant. With a sharpie, mark the belt were they cover the side seams of the jeans. Take off the belt and drill holes where you marked, making sure they aren't too big. Once the holes are drilled, get some rope and tie a knot at the end of one end. Thread the rope through the hole. Do not cut off the excess rope. Put the belt back on the jeans and leave them there. The waist harness is now done.

The chest harness is the most complicated one. This one requires two belts. Get one of the belts and make sure it fits around your chest firmly. It should be high enough for it to almost touch your armpits. As for the other belt, cut off the buckle and cut the belt in half. The second belt will be use as the shoulder straps. Sew the shoulder straps to the other belt. When you sew, make sure the buckle will end up in the center of your chest, it makes it easier to put on and off.

Before you say it, yes, it is going to look like a bra. #noshame

Once the shoulder straps are sewn on, you need to drill two holes on each strap. Mark the center of each shoulder strap and drill two holes on either side of the mark, leaving a space of ~1" in between.

Congrats, you are done with the harnesses.

Step 5: Preparing the Clothes

What are three lumberjacks without flannels and jeans? Naked. Now obviously you don't want to go exposing yourself and your bearded friends to the public, so you need to make some preparations to the clothes.

Lets start with the jeans you are going to be wearing. Put them on and mark the side seam where the knee harnesses will be at. Take them off and with a seam cutting tool, cut the seam of that area. It should be about 1" long. Once the seams are cut, there should be a hole there where you can have the harness rope going through. Measure the distance between the top of the jeans down to the start of the cut seam. Use that measurement to cut seams of the other two jeans that the dummies will be wearing. There are more cuts you need to make before you put them on the dummy. These cuts will differ for each pair of jeans. Cut two holes by the front pockets of one pair of jeans and another two holes by the back pockets of the other pair of jeans. You do not make any holes near the pockets for the pair of jeans you are going to be wearing.

The three flannels will each have different cuts in them. The flannel for the front dummy will have two cuts on the back of the shoulders (shoulder blade area). The flannel for the back dummy will have two cuts as well, but they will be on the front of the shoulders (collarbone area). Most flannels have seams around these areas, so you can just cut along these seams.

The flannel you will wear will be a little different. Most flannels have seams at the top of the shoulder. You need to cut two holes along these seams, one for each side. Make sure that these cuts are a little bit wider than the shoulder strap of your chest harness. It also helps to put the harness and flannel on to mark the area where you can cut.

Remember, if you mess up on any of this, you can sew them back together. I can tell you that I had to do that a few times.

Step 6: Dressing Your Dummies

While you dress your dummies, you will most likely have to do some adjustments to the framework, so keep that in mind. In fact, the adjustments will be the hardest part in this step.

Dress your dummies while keeping an eye out for any potential adjustments to the frame. The entire arm should be the size of the arm of the flannel, and the entire leg should be shorter than the jeans. In fact, I had to cut the bottom of my jeans by couple of inches because they were too long. You don't want the legs of your dummies to be longer than your own legs. In fact, the legs should be off the ground by an inch or two when the costume is done.

During this time, make sure the joints of the dummy will line up with the joints of the dummies. Make adjustments as necessary. You can also put the shoes on the dummies as well.

For each shoe, drill a hole on each side near the back. Put the PVC foot in the shoe and get a piece of rope about 6" and tie a knot at the end of one end. Thread the knot through one side of the shoe, through the 90 degree PVC fitting, and then the other side of the shoe. Tie a knot once it is all threaded through. Do this for each shoe.

Step 7: Connecting the Dummies

Now the costume is starting to come together. In this step we connect all of the attaching poles to the dummy. Lets start from the bottom and go up to the top. Remember that the thicker 1" poles are used for the shoulders and the poles with no middle holes are used for the hands.

Lay your dummies down and make sure they won't get tangled once all the poles are attached. Get some rope, tie a knot through one end of it, and thread it to the outside part each shoe through the hole you drilled when dressing the dummy. Make sure the rope goes through the right holes (ex. right hole of right shoe). Tie a knot once the holes are threaded through and thread the rope through the hole in the PVC attaching pole. Do this for each shoe, making sure that you don't get the feet mixed up (front dummy left foot attached to back dummy right foot).

Now that the ankles are connected, continue on to the knees. Before you do anything, write down the length of rope you used that is in between the hip and leg pieces of the dummy. First, untie the leg piece of the dummy. Use the rope that once attached the hip and leg and tie a knot about 2" above the area where your leg piece was tied. Then, bring the attaching pole through the seam we cut in the jeans. Thread the rope through the attaching pole and tie a knot to secure it into place. Thread the rope through the leg piece of the dummy and tie one last knot to finish the assembly of the leg. Do this for each leg.

To connect the hips of the dummies, start with putting the attaching pole through the holes we cut near the top of the jeans (by the pockets). Get some rope and tie a knot at the end. Start threading from the bottom of the outside hole to the top. Then bring it through the attaching pole and then back down to the hip of the dummy, this time through the hole closer to the center of the body. Pull on the rope to make it tight and tie a knot to secure it. Continue with the remaining hips.

Connecting the shoulders of the dummies are very similar to the hips. First, bring the 1" attaching pole through the hole we made in the shirt. Get a piece of rope and tie a knot and the end. Start threading from the top of the outside hole to the bottom. Bring it through the attaching pole then back down to the shoulder of the dummy, this thine through the hole closer to the center of the body. Pull the rope to make it tight and tie a knot to secure it. Repeat with the remaining shoulders.

The hands are the easiest bit. Get a piece of rope, tie a knot at the end, and thread it through the bottom arm piece. Then thread it through the attaching pole and tie a knot to secure it.

Now the attachments are done. You are getting closer and closer to finishing the costume!

Step 8: The First Test Run

This is where an extra person really comes in handy. In fact, I really don't know how it would be possible to do it without help.

Start by connecting the flannel you will be wearing to the shoulder attaching poles. First, get the shoulder harness and bring the shoulder straps through the two holes we cut into the shoulders of the flannel. Then, get a piece of rope, tie a knot at the end, and thread it through one of the middle holes of the attaching pole starting at the top. Thread it through the holes of the shoulder straps and bring it back up to the other middle hole of the attaching pole. Keep in mind that the flannel you are wearing is going to be attached to the costume, so you cannot wear it without the costume unless you remove the rope. Trust me when I say it's easier to keep the flannel attached to the costume.

Connect the jeans to the flannel by the harness we made with the belt that is going to be around your waist. With the belt on the jeans, thread the holes we put in the belt through the hole of the attaching pole. Pull to make sure its tight and tie a knot to secure it. Yes, it is as easy as that.

Now comes the hard part. Putting the costume on for the first time. Put on the leg harnesses and make sure the ropes are facing out, it helps when you put on the costume. Once the harnesses are on, have someone nearby as you put on the jeans (remember they are connected to the costume) because you're gonna need help making sure everything is straight. Now, bring the rope from the knee harness through the seam you cut and thread it through the attaching pole. Pull on it to make it tight and tie a knot to secure it. Do the same with the ankle harnesses except you aren't pulling the rope through the jeans.

Now that your legs and hips are attached to the costume, it's time for you're upper body to be attached. You are going to put on the flannel like you put on any shirt, except you need to put on both sleeves at the same time. Have someone hold up the shoulder attaching rod and hold open the flannel so you can get in. You need to put your arms through the harness and the flannel at the same time. Ass soon as the harness and flannel are on, buckle the harness together so it doesn't get loose, then get an old towel or other cloth to put in between your shoulder and the harness. Trust me when I say the weight of the costume will make your shoulder ache.

Now that the costume is on, try it out a bit. Have your helping hand make any adjustments to the costume if they are needed (most likely will). Once everything is ay-okay, use the hot glue gun to glue the shoulder parts to the 4-way PVC fitting, the hips and torso to the 3-way fitting, and the feet and shoes to the 90 degree fitting. Don't glue the torso to the 4-way fitting because we have the hole there to disconnect the top and bottom if need be. Once all that is said and done, take off the costume so you can make the finishing touches.

Step 9: The Finishing Touches

Did you really think I forgot about the heads and hands? Don't worry, your bearded friends will have heads. And hands. And beards. Cause you know, whats a lumberjack without a beard?

Lets start with the heads. Get the styrofoam heads and put on the beards first. Some fake beards come with an adhesive. If you have one of those, peel off the back and put the beard on the head. If the fake beard does not have an adhesive, use a hot glue gun to attach it.

Once the beards are on the dummies, put on the beanies and use a sharpie to trace the lining of the beanies. Take the beanies off and paint the heads with the skin-colored paint with the lines helping you so you don't paint an area that you don't need to. If you want to paint the entire head, go ahead. I didn't because it isn't necessary. Don't be afraid to do multiple coats. During this step, paint the eyes using the eye color for the iris, white-out for the white in the eyes, and a sharpie for the pupils. Paint the lips and eyebrows using the darker shade of the skin-colored paint.

Once the heads are painted, put the beanies back on and nail them into place.

With the remaining PVC, cut a 3/4" diameter piece to 4". With that piece, push 3 out of 4 of those inches into the bottom of the styrofoam head. Use a hot glue gun to secure it into place. Once the glue is cooled down, put the head on the open spot of the 4-way PVC fitting on the dummy frame. Get some nails and secure the neck of the flannel to the bottom of the head.

The hands are made using plastic bags (the kind you get at a grocery store) and any kind of glove. Put 1-3 bags into the hands. Use a knife to cut two small holes in the cuff of the glove on opposite sides. Next, untie the rope connecting the arm and the connecting pole. Use that rope to go through one side of the glove, then the connecting pole, the other side of the glove, and then tie a knot to secure it all. Use duct tape to secure everything and tape the sleeve to the glove.

The last finishing touch is to make sure the shoes don't go haywire. As I'm sure you have noticed, when you are hooked up to the costume and start walking, the shoes do indeed go haywire. To fix this, duct tape the shoes to the attaching pole so they won't flop around like a fish on land. The back shoes would be easier to duct tape than the front, just an FYI.

Step 10: One Last Thing

So you can walk like a lumberjack, can you use the same tools a lumberjack uses? Well maybe you don't have to be able to use an actual axe, but it's nice to have one to make sure people don't assume you look like three people with beards, a flannel, and jeans. Also, don't get an actual axe, make a fake one. You can also buy a fake one if you want, but where's the originality in that?

All you need for this is a wooden pole of sorts, cardboard, and duct tape. Cut the wooden pole into three parts of about 2'-3'. Cut six axe-like shapes out of cardboard using scissors or an exacto-knife. Use duct tape to tape the cardboard together and then tape it to the wooden pole. Once it is all taped together, drill two holes in the wooden pole. One at each end, but don't drill one into the "blade" of the axe. Get a piece of rope, tie a knot at one end, and thread it through the two holes, then tie another knot at the end of it. These are going to be around you and the other two dummies. Gotta complete the costume, am I right?

Step 11: Just Some Last Tips

Congratulations! You finished the lumberjack dummy costume. Remember, is much easier to put on and take off with a helping hand. Also, don't forget a cushioning cloth between your shoulder and the harness. My cushion was too thin and I paid the price afterward. My shoulders were literally red for a few hours after I took the costume off.

If you make changes to my costume design, please let me know what changes you did. I am very interested to see what you have done to make it better!

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    7 weeks ago

    Which AGT episode did you get the idea from. It's awesome!!!


    4 years ago

    * Bursting into song* : I'm a lumberjack and I'm o.k. ... ;)
    Looks cool.