For Halloween this year I wanted to make some quick and easy decorations for my front porch. I wanted to make a haunted house, but also thought it would be cool to combine that with a jack o'lantern and that is how I came up with this idea. It is a really simple design that could be built with only hand tools (but I used power tools because I have them) and uses those small bits of scrap wood. In my case I used pine, but any wood would do. In the end I really like how to wood burnt finish looks and how it lights up with some battery powered tea lights
Here are the supplies, tools and materials I used in making this. The links are either to the exact tool I used, or something very close.
- Scrap Wood (any wood would do, but I used scraps of pine)
- Bandsaw and Scroll saw -or- Jigsaw -or- handsaws
- Drill or Drill Press
- Propane Torch
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Step 1: Preparing the Scrap Wood
The scrap wood I used here is from a failed project. There were some edges that needed to be cleaned up, so I used my hand plane to clean up the edges.
I also cut some of the wood at this point to be used as the start of the design. These pieces will become the side walls of the house. In this case I made two 4"x5" pieces.
Step 2: Draw the Pieces for the Peaked Roof
Take a piece of wood from the previous step and use it as a template to draw the height of the walls onto a larger piece of wood, in this case a piece of 1x8 (3/4"x7 1/4") pine. This mark was 5" from the bottom of the board.
Approximately 4 inches above that line, measure and place a mark on the center of the board. (3 5/8" from either side)
Using a straight edge connect the center mark to the marks on the edge to form a peaked house shape.
Step 3: Cut Out the Peaked Roof Parts
Using a bandsaw I cut out the first peaked roof part by following the lines I drew. You could also use a jigsaw or a handsaw for this step.
I then took the piece I cut and used it as a template to make a second peaked roof part. I again used the bandsaw to cut it out.
As I was never good at tracing lines, and bandsaws often leave marks, I clamped the two pieces together and used my hand plane to square up the edges. You could use a sander here to accomplish the same thing.
Step 4: Draw the Face
This is the part where you can get really creative drawing a face for your jack o'lantern! I went with a simple triangle eyes and pointy teeth, but don't let that stop you from doing something way cooler!
Step 5: Cut Out the Face
First I used my drill press to drill holes in the eyes and mouth.
I then used my scroll saw to (you could also use a jigsaw for this step) to cut out the design.
As you cannot make 90 degree corners when cutting, it is best to leave a bit on the edges and then come around later and clean up the cuts (as seen in the last picture)
Step 6: Make a Back Door
On the piece that doens't have a face, draw a door. I used my speed square to make it easier. First I marked 2" from each side. Then I made straight lines on those marks, 4" long. I then slid the speed square across the piece while holding my pencil at the 4" mark to connect the two lines.
I then took it to the bandsaw to cut out the door.
Step 7: Cut Roofing Material
Using some 1/2" pine material I ripped it down to 1 1/2" strips.
I then set up a stop block on my mitre sled and cross-cut the pieces to 6 1/2". I made a total of 8 pieces.
I also made a strip that was 1" wide. I made one of these pieces and it will be the cap on the roof.
Step 8: Assemble the House
Using woodglue and brad nails, I assembled the house.
First I spread glue on the front and back pieces. I then lined up the side walls and nailed them in place.
For the roof, I used the thin pieces. The first row is flat mounted on the roof and nailed in place. Each subsequent row is stacked on top of the former row and nailed in place.
For the final piece, or cap on the roof, I used the slightly narrower piece and then used my handplane to add a bevel to each side.
The nails hold everything in place until the woodglue dries.
Step 9: Add a Bottom/Floor
Now that the house is all together, I can measure the bottom and make a piece to fit.
In my case, I made a piece approximately 4"x5 1/2". I used my table saw to rip and cross-cut the wood. I then added glue and pushed it in place. Finally I added brad nails.
Step 10: Attach the Door
Using a small hinge I attached the door to the back. This will give you access to add in lights.
I first placed the hinge on the house part and screwed it in place. As this is softwood, it did not need to be pre-drilled. If you used hardwood for this, pre-drilling is a must.
I then placed the door on the house and added screws. Make sure to line up the door properly. If it is not centered well, it will not open.
I also added a small handle on the door using a small bit of pine. I added a bevel on one side, and cut it using a handsaw. I then glued it in place and clamped it until the glue dried.
Step 11: Get Fired UP!
This was my favourite part of the project by far. It was my first time trying this type of finish, which is charring the wood with fire (sometimes referred to as shou sugi ban).
Note: Fire is dangerous, always have a fire extinguisher and/or hose available to put out a fire and do this outside and in an area clear of combustible material.
Taking a propane torch, I went over the house and lightly charred it. I think this finish really adds to the spooky nature of the house. The longer you spend on this step, the darker the finish will be.
Tip: Don't stay in any one spot too long or else you will create an uneven finish (as seen in the last picture)
Step 12: Enjoy!
Add some lights and enjoy the fruits of your labour!
What I really like about this project is you can make the houses any size and with really different designs. Also pictured is a a ghost design with added parchment paper to defuse the light.Have your kids draw their own designs or download a template from the internet (just look for pumpkin carving templates)
I hope you enjoyed this project, and if you make it I would love to see a picture in the comments below.
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