Intro: Jurassic Park Gate Headboard
So you've thought to yourself, hey, I'm a wicked nerd and I don't ever want to grow up. Eggggzellent. This is the place for you. In this instructable, I will show you how to build a ridiculously large, unnecessary, potentially dangerous piece of furniture for your sleeping pleasure. Its called a headboard. It's purpose is to keep the pillows from falling off your bed. BUT. Because we are makers, the puppeteers and the dreamers of dreams, we must make this pillow stopper the grandest of all, fit for a king (kong), spared no expense. So lets do this. Hold on to your butts.
Yo. I put real fire in this baby. I totally do not recommend or endorse doing that. I did my research to find components that would stand up the the heat, insulate it and burn cleanly, but I have not tested them. This has a serious potential to burn my entire house down. But I did it more for the experience of building it and lighting it once to see if it worked. So I'm saying that this is definitely not safe, and I'm not responsible if you die. But if you are interested in my stupidity, this is how I did it.
Step 1: What You're Gonna Need:
- 2 4x8 sheets 3/4 sanded plywood (cabinet grade is smoother)
- 1/4 hardboard (for templating)
- mahagony decking
- kreg jig
- drills, impact drivers
- kreg screws
- centering jig
- circular saw or table saw
- sanding device of sorts
- belt sander
- compressor and finish nailer
- textured spray paint (i used Stone spray paint)
- Muffin Tins
- Fire Glass
- Furnace Cement
- Denatured alcohol
- Black candles (yankee candle)
Here's the thing about what you need. As far as tools go, these are just the tools I used. I have access to them, so I used them. But you can skin a TaunTaun in a lot of different ways, so don't get discouraged if you don't have everything. If you run into an issue, figure out how to make it work. Get weird. There's no wrong way to eat a Reese's.
Step 2: The Design
The first thing you have to do is figure out how big to make the headboard. Measure your bed, figure out your space requirement and limitations, and do some drawings. Mock it up, tape it out on the floor, what ever helps you visualize it. I used graph paper and drew it to scale until i liked the way it looked. My bed is a queen size, so if you've got the same, you can use my drawing and dimensions if you like. This part is really up to your size limitations. I used reference pictures from the movie and stills online to get a feel for how everything lined up proportionally.
Step 3: Mill the Lumber for the 'Gate'
I used deck boards from a mahogany deck that were given to me years ago. I had about a million feet of it, and it was full of nicks and scratches, holes, and gouges. It was also patina'd pretty hard, and I wanted my gate to look kinda red. So I set up my planer to take just a slice off the top the the boards. You could sand the patina off until its red, but the planer will be much more uniform. Make sure your boards are free of any screws or nails before you do this, or you will ruin your blades.....trust me.
So next take your looong deck boards over to the table saw, and make your rips. The gate is built in two parts. The 'inside' slats and the 'outer' frame. Rip a couple boards down to 2 1/4" for the slats. Rip enough so that you can get 22 15" pieces out of it. So now you've got a stack of 22 2 1/4" x 15" boards.
Move onto the rails, where you'll need 4 pieces at 3 1/2" x 17", and 2 at 3 1/2" x about 22".
For the diagonal pieces, you'll have to glue and dowel a couple pieces together, so you can cut out the shape later. Or you could be fancy and find a really wide piece. Its up to you. With my method, cut 4 pieces at about 22" depending on the width of your boards, you may need more pieces. My boards were 3 1/2", so i just did 4. If you look at my drawing, you'll see the length of the long side of the diagonal is 9". If you're paying attention 3 1/2" x 2 is not 9". BUT, when we get to our template, you will turn it along one straight edge, which makes the long side shorter. Its much more simple than it looks in print. Check the pictures and you'll get it. To put them together, use a center jig, or find the center of the board, and drill a hole for the dowel, half the length of the dowel in each board. Spread glue on the edges, in the holes, on the dowel, assemble and clamp together. Immediately remove excess glue with water and a sponge. Make sure to get it all, or it will block the poly later on.
While you're at all this doweling, make up the pieces for your top arch as well. I used 3 boards this time, about 60" long. Drill em, dowel em, glue and clamp. Same deal with that clean up. Be diligent, get it all, it'll be worth it.
Step 4: Cut Your Diagonal Pieces
Make a cardboard template for your diagonal pieces. Instead of trying to use angles, I used a t-square to measure and mark out each line. Because my drawing is to scale, I can reference off the rails and draw straight lines with no angle finding at all. Cut out your template with a straight edge and razor, and position it on your glued up piece. ooooo now we see why it fits. I get it you say. Good I'm glad.
With the template, mark out your board. Cut it along those lines. Personally, I used a festool track saw. Its almost like cheating, because the track makes a perfect straight cut. But you could do the same with a table saw, or a regular circular saw and straight edge.
Step 5: Initial Sanding
Before we start to assemble, its a good idea to do a little sanding, before it gets too hard to reach. Each of the boards you cut on the table saw has at least one right angle, sharp edge. We dont want this. We want each board to look individual, so we break the edges. Set up some kind of sander upside down in a clamp or vise with some 80 or 100 grit paper, and pass the edges of each board over the paper. Totally a by hand thing, it doesn't need to be precise. In fact, the variations make it look more 'jungle gate like' to me. You also avoid splinters in the final product by doing this.
Step 6: Kreg Drill the Slats, and the Outer Frame
You're going to be drilling about a hundred A HUNDRED holes. So get set up comfortably. Start with the back slats. Drill two holes in each, split up evenly.Make a mark on your table so you know where each board needs to go to put the holes in the same place. Place your boards with the planed red side facing away from you and drill away, Merill.
Next, drill the holes for where the rails meet the cross rails. Refer the the picture of placement.
Step 7: Screw Together
Do the back slats first. Use a square to set two stop blocks into your table. Then position all of your pieces so that you are pushing square into the stop blocks. Refer to pictures. Screw 2 sets of 11 pieces together.
Next, screw the outer frame all together. Make stop blocks for pieces like the outer rails and diagonal pieces and cross rails. If they cant move before you screw it together, they wont move when you do. We want no movement, and square, symmetrical sides.
Step 8: Take This Time to Sand
While the three sections are apart and flat, sand them. Use a DA sander or a palm sander to smooth them right out. I elected to go to 320 in this step.
Step 9: Assemble the Headboard
Now you can screw the three sections together. Lay everything together and position it so that the spacing is equal. One thing to remember about kreg screwing is that it pulls everything. So your outer frame may not be perfectly square. This is bad, because we need it to fit square inside our two columns. So measure the top distance, (should be 59") and compare it to the bottom. Most likely, the bottom will be ding toed, because it is unsupported. So attach your back slats to the top of the outer frame first, then square out, mark and attach the bottoms. check everything when you're done. You want 59" from outside to outside of both the top and bottom of the side rails.
Once you're sure its square, rip two support stabilizers about 2" by the length of the board. place it on edge, clamp drill and screw it to the back. This prevents the headboard from flexing in the middle. See picture.
Step 10: Have a Beer. or Apple Juice or Whatever. Wonder What the Hell You're Doing With Your Life
Crucial to the creative process.
Step 11: The Top Arch
For gradual curves, I like to make a router template, and route the curve instead of sanding it. It makes it look so much more uniform. So. Refer to your drawing (or mine) for your curve dimensions. Cut a piece of hardboard exactly the same size as the length of your headboard. This is important because both the head board and arch get sandwiched by the columns, so they must be the same. Rip the board wide enough to support both the top and bottom curve.
Screw the board down to your bench, and mark the center. If you look at the drawing, and arch can be viewed as a rectangle as well. Look at the picture. You can just make out a faint line that connects the bottom corners at the bottom and the top. So. If you measure from the bottom center of the imaginary line to the top of the bottom arch, and the top of the top arch, you can mark that on your rectangle hardboard. From either bottom side edge of the hardboard, you can measure up, in our case about 6 3/4" up to get the termination of the top arc. Phew. You might need another beer. or apple juice.
Rip a piece of pine, or oak, down to 3/8"x 1" x 65" so serve as your curve template.
Start with the bottom curve on the right side. Lay your pine piece along the bottom edge of the hardboard, and put a nail into the bench directly at the edge of the hardboard. Do the same on the left side. Now, when you push the pine piece in the middle, it should bend against the nails, in a uniform bend. push it up to your first mark, and put a nail behind it to keep it in place. Voila. Nice curve. Good job. Now mark it with marker, and move your nails up to the top arc, using the same process.
Check the measurements, love the way it looks. Use a jig saw to cut the shape pretty close to the line. Then use a belt sander to just get rid of the marker line. If you do no more than than, the curve should be pretty damn near perfect. Finish it with some hand sandpaper to fix any mistakes you made.
Now you can put your template on your piece that you made up a while back. clamp it in place and leave it there. Use the jig saw to hog away most of the material, you only want about an 1/8" left for the flush cut router bit to take off.
Load up your router with a top bearing flush cut bit, and take small passes. And I mean small. Mahogany has a tendency to splinter when routed, so go slow and take little bits at a time. Make sure the bearing is tight and rides right on the hardboard, and nowhere else.
If you route it correctly, there should be very little you have to do to smooth out the curve. The last thing to do is to put a small roundover on both arcs, or just break the edge with sandpaper.
Sand it to the same caliber as the headboard, and admire your handiwork. Remember this is completely frivolous and has the potential to end your dating career. Revel in your new found dungeons and dragons time.
Step 12: The Corbels
These hold the other 'torches', and the top ones slide out to hold your phone while it charges.
I dont have any measurements for these, I just kind of made them up. They are about 4" long and stick out about 3"
I'm not a smart man. I wont lie and say it didnt take me all night to figure out how to make these. Cuz it did. Just dont get frustrated, and try to remember all your high school trig. You'll fly right through it...ha.
Step 13: The Columns
Lay out your sheet of plywood, get your t-square and your drawing. Mark out all of your lines, and remember that there is a front and back to both columns. Cut them out using your preferred method, like my track saw. Use a hand saw or jig saw to finish the cuts from the table saw or circular saw.
You want this one piece of plywood to look like three blocks of stone. So load a pointed plunge bit into your router, set it to just over a 1/4", and set a straight edge across the board. Route all the horizontal lines to make it look like blocks.
Take whats left of your plywood, and rip 4" strips to act as the sides of the columns. You need 2 at 59" or however high your columns are, and smaller pieces for the angled sides.
The top corbels slide out, so you need a slot in the face the size of the sliding piece. make up a routing jig that you and reference to an edge on either side. See pictures. Route your slot, and finish it with a handsaw. Adjust the fit with a file.
Locate where your bottom corbels mount, mark them and nail or screw them in from the back.
Assemble one sides of each column by nailing the long continuous 4" piece on first. Nail from one end to the other, making sure it is flush.
For the angled sides your going to have to cut some angles, which I did not take pictures of. Sorry. Start from the top of the column. put your piece in flush, then mark and cut the angle that is exposed at the top. Each section can be done this way. After you nail those sides in, you can fill the gaps between each 'step'.
At the top of the column about 4" down, put a snug piece in. This serves as a bottom for the 'firepit'. It provides a bottom stop for the fire cement we will be putting in. Make sure it is snug, or the cement with drip down. No bueno.
Now you have the face and sides of each column with the back exposed. Slide your top corbels in, and put a stop on the back of the slide so it cannot come out.
Lay your back on top of the sides, line it up and fasten it. I used screws in case i had to take it apart because, I dont know, what if something caught on fire?
Flip the columns on their side and use a belt sander to sand an arch around all for sides of the bottoms, almost like each column will have 4 'legs'. This is so there is minimal contact with the ground, in case your floors are out of level.
Fill any nail holes, sand, and break all sharp edges.
Step 14: First Assembly
This part is a bit tricky. You're gonna need a helper. Make marks where the bottom of the head board and arch should go, and also how far it sets back from the edge of the column. I used about 3/4"
To aid this fit up, put dowels into your headboard and arch. Drill out your holes, and insert center marking pins to get the location of the corresponding holes in the columns. Then you and your helper attempt to line everything up, push it together and mark the holes. Use your brain and some measuring to make sure the holes are right, and drill.
Drill a few kreg pocket holes in both the headboard and arch for fastening later on.
Put it all together and stare at it. Then take it apart for finishing.
Step 15: Paint
Put a base coat of gray paint on first. This makes it a lot easier to do the texture, and uses less texture paint too!
Let it dry, then tape off your opening at the top of the column. Also, make sure to spray with the top corbels pushed in, or the texture will mess up your fit.
Mask off an area to paint. Do this or allllllllllllll of your stuff will be textured. Fact. Put a mask on, and go to town. I only put two coats on, because it doesnt build like you think it would, it just kind of fills in. It looks like stone, feels like stone. Two coats was good enough for me.
Step 16: Finish the Wood
Take the headboard and arch into your shop and sand them until theyre soft and smooth. Brush on a coat of your desired poly. I used clear semi gloss. Wait until it dries, sand with a higher grit and re-coat. You should do about 3 coats, and a couple on the back too just to seal it all up. As a last step, sand with a really high grit, then use a beeswax based furniture finish and buff to a shine. Like BLAOW!!
Step 17: Set the Tins
Open up your fire cement, and start spooning into the cavity at the top of the column to about 3/4 of the way to the top. Then press in the tin and center it in position.
Lay a piece of wood across the top and screw it down, so that the cement pushes the tin flush against the top of the column. Use Bondo spreaders to scrape the excess away and flatten the cement.
It dries by air or heat, so the top will dry pretty fast, but it will still be wet underneath. You really have to heat it to get it to set up. SHUCKS. GUESS WE'LL HAVE TO LIGHT IT UP.
Step 18: Final Assembly
Get a helper to position everything together. Use a ratchet strap to keep everything together, and screw the pieces to the columns. We're so good. Look what we did. Its a monument to our lack of natural predators. And we love it.
Step 19: Light It
For some reason this didn't post yesterday. Oh well. Actually NOT oh well cuz THIS IS THE BEST PART!
Fill your tins with fireglass to just below the rim, then VERY CAREFULLY pour denatured alcohol in almost to the top. Dont spill any. If you do, it will light on fire, when you light it on fire. Fire in places we dont want fire is bad fire. Dont do bad fire.
Next, sprinkle a good amount of salt into the tins, and mix it around with a spoon. The salt helps the flame burn yellow instead of blue. Set your candles on the corbels.
Use a stick lighter to light everything, and make sure you have a way to put it out, BEFORE you light it. Either something to starve the top like a pan, or a fire extinguisher if things get dicey.
And there you have it. A flaming symbol of nerdhood that John Hammond himself would sleep with. Good job folks.
For a video of this baby in action, head over to my photobucket album, and check out my other stuff while you're at it!
Thanks for looking!