Have you ever wanted a graveyard in the front of your house? If your answer is yes than I hope it's Halloween time, otherwise you might be a little bit crazy.
But i'm not crazy and it is the Halloween season, so check out my spooky tombstone Instructable for an in depth how to, all about creating some tombstone entrances to the Neitherworld.
Warning! the tombstones I built are pretty complex so bring your A-Game to the build. Also Try and add to my tombstones or come up with a completely different design using LEDs to illuminate your own spooky graves.
Step 1: Collecting the Materials & Tools
This is a somewhat complicated and demanding project, so don't be too surprised by the number of tools and materials I used. Also I'm sure you clever little builders out there can find your way around any missing items.
What I used:
- 1/2" Particle Board
- 20 or so Red LEDs
- 20 or so Green LEDs
- 1 Can of Great Stuff
- Granite Paint
- Red Model Paint
- Yellow Model Paint
- Black Spray Paint
- Acrylic Caulk
- 1 Old Scary Black & White Photo
- 8 Feet of 2x4
- 10 Ohm Resisters
- Battery Holder
- 1 Foam Skull
- Liquid Nails
- Clear Coat
Tools I used:
- Nail Gun
- Table Saw
- Router with Straight Bits
- Jig Saw
- Screw Gun & Drill Bits
- Paint Brush
- Soldering Iron
Step 2: Find a Picture & Cut Out Tombstones
1. First thing I needed to do was find an old looking picture online for my Jack the Ripper tombstone. After I found it, I printed it out and cut it into an oval shape, about 4 inches by 6 inches.
2. Next I penciled in the basic shape I wanted my tombstones. I did a little research online and found 2 different looking graves that I liked. one with the classic half round top, and the other had a more complicated curved top. I used a pencil and a string pulled tight in the center of the curves to draw both of my tombstone crowns. The overall height of my tombstones is right around 24 inches and the widths about 18 inches.
3. Using my table saw and jig saw I carefully cut out my designs, Make sure you cut out duplicates for the backs of the tombstones. I just clamped 2 sheets together and cut both the front and back at the same time.
4. Finally I drew in the lettering on the front sides of my tombstones. Routing them will be in the next step.
This is what I used, but of course you can write whatever you want:
JACK RIPPER R.I.P.
Step 3: Routing, More Cutting, Painting Black
1. Prepare you Router for the lettering by installing a straight bit set to cut about 1/4 inch deep. Also clamp the fronts of your tombstones to a solid surface so they won't move around when you start to shape.
2. Next route out where you want your picture to go. I did this by tracing the outside of the picture I found earlier and then going back and fourth with my router until I had a perfect inlay for my image to set in.
3. Next I sketched out a large crack on one of my graves and cut it out. On the other gravestone I traced around the foam skull and cut it out. I then divided the cutout piece into two parts so it would look like the skull broke through the tombstone when I reattach them later.
4. Paint all the lettering, the crack and the cut out parts black. This makes the lettering stand out more and hides any exposed particle board that might get missed later.
5. Lastly cut the back of the skull off so it will fit in the narrow tombstone. I used a hacksaw. It makes a pretty good mess, so do it in a location that is easy to sweep.
I included a wiring diagram, which will come in handy for those of you who don't have a lot of experience with LEDs. I used a 6 volt power source, not 3 volts like in the diagram, but the wiring is the same. I used a 10 ohm resister. It gets hot but so far I have not had any problems.
1. Use Great Stuff to fill the crack on the first tombstone. It expand so don't use too much.
2. Drill holes through the eyes of the skull that are just large enough to tightly hold your LEDs in place. Wire your LEDs appropriately, then pull them through the front until the LEDs are just barely protruding from the sockets.
3. Prep the skull and second tombstone for great stuff. I used some 1 inch thick pieces of wood to hold the front of the tombstone off my work bench, and then put a large piece of aluminum foil under the skull to keep any excess foam from sticking to my work surface.
4. Fill the gap between the tombstone and skull with foam, and stick the cut out pieces back where they came from before the great stuff dries, this will hold them in place.. Make sure the LED wires don't get buried. I also put a little extra Great Stuff on the front of the grave, so it looks like it is dripping out.
Step 5: Wiring and LEDs
This is the hard part. Take your time and do some research if your not comfortable with electrical circuits.
1. Start inserting the LEDs into the DRIED foam with all the negative leads on the same side. This will make it easier to wire them all together. Make sure that the LEDs are driven deep enough so that the glow is visible through the foam.
2. Next wire all the Negative leads together, and all the positive leads together. Don't forget the wires for the eyes.
3. Solder the resister to the positive end of the LED strand.
4. Test your circuit with a 6 volt power supply.
Step 6: Construction of the Tombstones
1. I ripped some 2x4s on my table saw to build up the sides of my tombstones. For one I left the round edge of the 2x4 sticking out a little (see Image) to give it a bit of detail on the side. On the other grave I nail the 2x4 flush so it came out square. I used nails and glue to hold it all together. Don't forget to drill a hole for the LED leads to exit.
2. For the base of my Jack Ripper tombstone I cut some 2x4s to size, and basically just framed around it.
3. I used PlastiCard for the curved tops, stapling it down about every inch or so. Cut the excess off after it has been nailed in place.
Step 7: Caulking & Details
1. Make sure that all the gaps and rough edges are caulked, also add some caulk to the PlastiCard just to rough it up. This gives it a little more of a stone look.
2. Put a good layer of caulking in the inset for the image. place the image and smooth it out, then caulk around the edges of the picture.
3. After it all dries take a sharp razor and cut some chips in the tombstones. Be careful and get creative to make them look worn and old.
Step 8: Last Minute Wiring & Painting
1. I cut a hole in the back of the Jack Ripper tombstone and then added my 6 volt power supply, which hold 4 AA batteries. I then added the wire lead coming out the back, which is meant to supply the other tombstone.
2. I added a simple hinged door made out of PlastiCard to cover the opening of the battery holder. then I glued the holder in place with Liquid Nails. You could also add a switch to the circuit if you wanted. I just remove a battery when I want to shut my tombstones off.
3. Because the tombstones are battery operated you could pretty much put them where ever you wanted. I have about 6 feet of 18 gauge wire that I use to connect the two graves together.
4. I used some Valspar granite paint to coat the two stones, being careful not to get any on the foam or skull. Then to finish I added some yellow and red model paint to the foam to make it look more grotesque.
5. Lastly I put a generous coat of clear spray over the image of Jack the Rippers image. Also I added small drops of red model paint to his pupils, to evil him up a bit.
Step 9: Finished!!!
Now that my tombstone are done, all I have to do is sit back and watch them bring fright to the world.
I hope some of you decide to build these and add cool new ideas to them.
Have a happy and safe Halloween, and good luck with your spooky endeavorers...
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