Introduction: Making a Plywood Gravestone for Halloween

About: Hi there! My name is Bob and I am passionate about woodworking and teaching. I have been teaching woodworking to adults for several years, and I also make videos for my YouTube channel Bob's Wood Stuff. I put…

Here is the finished graveyard. I got tired of store-bought plastic and foam gravestones blowing down in the wind, so I designed these gravestones out of 1" plywood. They are painted with outdoor house paint and attached to the ground securely with pieces of rebar.

It takes about 30-60 minutes for a single gravestone (on the lower end if you make multiple at the same time).

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  • plywood
  • measuring tape
  • straightedge or ruler
  • flower pot / round item
  • jigsaw
  • rebar
  • hacksaw or reciprocating saw (optional)
  • exterior house paint
  • paintbrush or roller
  • electrical conduit straps
  • drill
  • hammer

Step 1: Marking Out the Gravestones

Start with an 8'x4' piece of plywood and mark out rectangles at 16"x24" using a tape measure and a straightedge.

Then use the flower pot or other round item to trace a rounded corner on two corners. Other items that work: small garbage can lid, pot lid, cooking pan, bucket.

Step 2: Cut Out the Shape

Use a jigsaw to cut along the line.

Once you have cut out one of them, you can trace that for the other ones instead of tracing the flower pot.

Step 3: Round Over the Edges

I rounded over all the edges using a roundover bit on the router table.

Other options:

  • handheld router
  • file or rasp
  • sandpaper

Step 4: Base Coat of Paint

Paint the whole gravestone with a light grey exterior house paint. Make sure to get both faces and all the edges and bottom of the gravestone. This will protect the plywood from absorbing water and delaminating.

Step 5: Dab the Texture on With the Plastic Bag

After the light grey paint has dried...

  1. Paint some medium grey outdoor house paint onto a scrap of wood on the side. This will become a pallet for painting.
  2. Crumple a plastic bag up into a ball, making it as wrinkly as possible.
  3. Dab the plastic bag onto the wet paint several times to load it up with paint.
  4. Dab it around the outside of the gravestone. Make sure to only dab and don't drag it.
  5. As the bag runs low on paint, start dabbing the inside of the gravestone. This will create a nice gradient effect.

Make sure to do both sides and the edges.

Step 6: Paint Funny Names (optional)

Paint funny names and epitaphs onto the gravestones. It helps to draw some guides with pencil before painting the words, or to use a stencil.

Step 7: Attach Metal Straps

Cut some pieces of rebar to 16" long with a hacksaw or reciprocating saw. If you have a bench grinder you can sharpen one end a bit to make them easier to use.

Screw on some electrical conduit straps or metal straps to the back of the gravestone. If the conduit straps are too loose on the rebar, bend them more flat.

Attach the screws loosely, so the rebar can slide in and out of them.

Step 8: Set Up the Graveyard

Drive the rebar into the ground using a heavy hammer, making sure to avoid sprinkler lines and gas lines.

Then slide the metal straps over the rebar and tighten the screws. This should stick the tombstone securely to the rebar and the ground.

Step 9: Add Dirt and Spotlights

Add piles of dirt in front of the gravestones to enhance the look. Add some spotlights on the gravestones to make it look cool in the night time and add spooky shadows on the house.

Thanks for looking! Please vote for me in the Instructables Halloween Contest, and also check out my YouTube channel.

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