Simple Tombstone




Introduction: Simple Tombstone

About: Full time College student (Computer Science and Engineering Major) with a passion for building stuff with whatever is on hand at the time. Been tearing stuff down and putting it back together my whole life. ...

After many years of use, the tombstones that we used were worn out. So as I was making them I decided to make an instructable on how to create a personalize tombstone for a Halloween graveyard. 

There have been many webpages and probably a couple instructables on this subject, but this is my version with a couple hints that might help others with the same project.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

The list of materials can be found at your local hardware store and craft store

The Materials are-
  • White Foam Board (found at Lowes in a 4 foot by 8 foot sheet in the insulation area)
  • Liquid Nails or Loctite Powergrab (glue that won't dissolve the foam board)
  • Spikes (found in hardware 8" Hot Galzanized Spike; 2 for each stone)
  • 1/2 Pint Latex Primer (White or Gray)
  • Stone Spray Paint
  • Black Paint Pen
  • Scissors, Tape, Pattern
  • Spray Glue
  • Small Piece of Plywood (For Base)
  • Black Spray Paint
  • Newspaper
  • Foam Brush
  • Nails

  • Jigsaw, Bandsaw, Styrofoam Cutter, or other cutting tool
  • Drill with drill bit (for the spikes)

Optional Materials-
  • Spanish Moss

Step 2: Patterns

I searched the internet for the shapes of tombstones that I liked. Then I downloaded the picture and put it into Corel Draw to outline the basic shape and turn it into a pattern.

If you don't want to do this, or don't have the software, I have included some of the stones that I drew if you want to use them. If you don't want to use my drawings, then you could always print out a picture of the stone you like to whatever size you want and trace the outside. You could also draw it free hand onto the protective coating that the foam has.

A freeware program thats like Corel Draw is called Inkscape

Step 3: Cutting the Basic Shape

Print out the pattern that you like. Cut and tape the pattern together.
Use spray glue and attach the pattern onto the 1 or 2 inch thick foam board

After the pattern is attached. Take your cutting implement and start with the straight cuts first. Then do the curved cuts. I used a jigsaw to cut the foam board because it was the easiest for larger tombstones. Small tombstones were easier to do on my bandsaw.

Remove the protective film from both sides of your foam board.

*Tip: If you mess up cutting the shape, you can either keep it that way (Halloween is suppose to be creepy and it will look old) or you can use a file to fix your mistake.

Step 4: Rough Cut Stone

I have seen many websites say to use a pencil torch and a spray bottle of water to make the foam look like stone. I don't like this method so I thought of a different way to make the texture of rough cut stone.

Using 1 light coast of latex primer (or no Primer) and a heavy coat of the stone spray will give the appearance/texture of rough-cut stone (The chemicals in the spray will lightly dissolve the foam)
Use 2 or more under coats of primer in order to maintain the original smooth foam texture.
Experiment using latex/spray finishes on scrap pieces of foam before trying it on your actual tombstone

I usually do one coat on the face and back of the tombstone and two coats on the sides because I don't want the sides to dissolve too much once I spray the stone paint.

Step 5: Base

For the base of the tombstone, I use a scrap piece of wood. I usually cut it so that its three inches longer and 1 1/2 inches wider than the base of the stone. You can paint the base board black. 

Drill holes large enough for the spikes at the edge of the board.
I drive nails through the board where the stone will go in order to attach the stone. 

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Take the black paint pen and decide what you want your stone to say. Write that saying onto the stone with the pen. Then clear coat the entire stone so that it will last for years to come.

Some people use a Dremel, pencil torch, or wood burner and inscribe the epithet. If your doing this project in a hurry, then use the pen. If your doing these to look as real as possible, then use the dremel or pencil torch.

Attaching the base to the tombstone is the next step.
After driving the nails through the board, put a couple beads of Liquid Nails or other adhesive and force the stone down onto the nails and adhesive.

Optional: I put my adhesive all over the base board and then put spanish moss in front of and to the sides of the stone. It gives it a more aged look with the spanish moss around the base.

Step 7: Presentation

Find a nice spot in your yard. Take your spikes and attach the stone to the ground through those holes that you drilled into the base board. 

Throw some fresh dirt in front of the stone to show it as a freshly dug grave. Add some bones half buried too.

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    4 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Ive used a similar process in the past with good results but some of our favorite "headstones" are the ones we made 10-12yrs ago from scrap plywood that have weathered and decayed from being "stored" between the shed and fence with the other weather resistent pieces. Do you have a better shot of the torches on either side of the tombstone in the last pics?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for the added effort, Im looking for ideas on old looking torches to go on either side of the coffin entrance, probably wont get done for this year though


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yea we've use fence boards and they've lasted a very long time. I can get a picture of the torches tommorrow.