How to build a cemetery entrance for your home Haunt. Really adds the extra touch! As a bonus, it gives you a place to put things out of the weather!
I added several lights, outlets and shelving for my stereo, but really you could pretty much anything or nothing in there.
Step 1: First: Sketch What You Want This to Look Like...and Make a Short Parts List
I always like to have a basic idea of what I am trying to accomplish with these projects. It doesn't need to be very detailed or to scale at all. I use this as my blueprint for when I have to figure out how I am going to do this.
I usually have more than one idea sketched out, so I go back and figure out what I think I can afford.
The first idea involved making a accordion structure that would segment the walkway to my front door to create "rooms" as the kids walked up. I still may do this, but not this year - last year was too spooky and some kids would not come up the walk so I am trying to tone it down...
Back to the project - after I sketched the cemetery gate, I estimated what I would need in minimums.
2 - 4x8 sheets of cheap plywood
20 - 10' 1/2 PVC pipe (schedule 40 - sprinkler pipe)
4 - 2x4 8' long
6 - 1x4 8' long
6 - PVC 3/4" to 1/2" T fitting (close up to follow)
6 - PVC 1/2" end caps
1 - 4x8 sheet of pink (or blue) home insulating foam board
Foam board glue
Spray paint - cheap stuff $.99 black and gray (gray is double what the black is but you only need 2 cans - I used 12 cans of black on this project)
I needed other stuff too - but I have a pretty good stock of random parts and hardware as I have been doing this for about 20 years now...
Step 2: Buy the Stuff and Get Started!
I purchased all of the wood and other construction supplies, but did not buy the spray paint (they were out - imagine that).
I started by trying to lay out the columns on the plywood in such a way that I would get the most out of one sheet. I decided the best thing to do would be to just rip the plywood in half lengthwise and then clamp the two halves together. This would allow me to sketch on one side and trim both of the sides at once. Since I didn't have a template or even any measurements to go by, it was pretty important I keep the sheets together.
Once I had the basic shape of the columns, I needed to work on the "rake" or tilt of the columns. Initially I cut way too much and the columns had no chance of standing on their own. Once corrected, I was on my way!
Step 3: Construct the Column Boxes
Next I cut the other sheet of plywood into four 1'x8' pieces to use as the sides for the columns and adjusted their length by eyeballing how much I needed to conceal behind the column. I wanted to create a sloped roof for the column, as we have had ridiculous rain on several Halloweens, and I wanted to protect my wiring and stuff if we got any this year.
I first attached the 2x4's to the front of the column (leaving enough room for the thickness of the plywood) using drywall screws and gorilla glue.
Step 4: Construct the Foam Stones
After the columns were dry, I then started on the foam "stone" facade. Remove the plastic sheeting from both sides of the insulation foam and break it into irregular pieces. A utility knife helps with this as depending on how warm or cold it is where you are, you can get some pretty non-stone looking pieces.
Test assemble the foam pieces on the structure using small nails until the entire things is covered and you are happy with the effect.
I divided the foam board into two roughly equal halves - one half for each side and saved all the little pieces in a bucket to use as chinking between the stones.
Step 5: Skull Faces
I wanted something to make the columns look extra spooky and I had purchased some skulls on clearance after Halloween last year (75% off!). I cut the backs off the skulls and then traced around them on the foam and cut the foam away to make a place for the skulls to be attached. I needed a way to remove the skulls to change the bulbs, so I attached some "L" brackets to each of the skull and secured them with drywall screws.
Step 6: Paint the Mortar
Once the foam was all set up and dry - I used cheap black spray paint to paint in between the foam to give the impression of depth. The foam reacts to the spray paint and melts giving a very nice stone effect!
Step 7: Paint the Faces of the Stones
Next I painted the faces of the foam stones with gray spray paint, being careful not to over spray into the mortar. The foam didn't have exposed edges for the paint to melt, but based on how heavy the paint was applied, the foam did melt a little adding to the stone effect.
Step 8: Backwards a Little to the Cemetery Topper...
I wanted some sort of sign on the top of the cemetery entrance, and I wanted it to look like wrought iron.
For this I used two sticks of the PVC pipe and heated it with a heat gun until I could mold it into a jig I made (I just drew a spiral on a piece of the scrap plywood and put screws where the bends would be).
I made this spiral on both ends of the PVC pipe for a total of four. Once assembled and painted, the topper looked pretty good. As a bonus, the topper gave a route for the wiring between the two columns (keeping the wires off of the walkway).
Step 9: Making the Cemetery Fence Sections
I didn't have the budget to make lots of cemetery fence (even though it is pretty cheap to make) so I settled on two sections for this year.
Initially, I made everything straight and even, but the effect was...well, straight and even. I really wanted this to look old and neglected so I made sure the second time I drilled the holes for the PVC pipes offset and random.
I also found that the drywall screws worked very well as wedges to hold the PVC without damaging it and allowing me to disassemble or refit things as necessary.
Step 10: Make the Fence Supports
I need to be able to break this down into reasonably small pieces so it could be stored in may garage and other places, so the fence would be attached to the columns using a tab "A" into slot "B" approach.
I used over sized "T" connections (3/4" to 1/2") to allow the fence to be positioned in the yard and then used short pieces of PVC as the anchors.
Step 11: Paint the Fence, Add Electronics and Wiring, Test Fit
My son Drew helped paint everything while installed the lights, wiring and stereo equipment. When the fence was dry, we test fit and connected everything to make sure there were no problems.
Step 12: FInished!
On Halloween Day (when all the kids were at school) we decorated the house and installed the cemetery entrance. It is a tradition in our household to take the day off from school and work to do this (my kids home-school anyway). We spent about 8 hours decorating and assembling everything but it was well worth it!!!!
I have included more pictures of the total effect, thanks for looking! See you next year!!!
BTW - I have a blog (who doesn't) I post all kinds of stuff on - kind of a distillery for the weird...