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zondag 13 oktober 2013

The cemetary gate, part 1

This is the most ambitious project of our haunt. The visitors will enter our spot through this gate. It will consist of two pillars and an arch between the two pillars. It will be constructed from wood, PVC tube and styrofoam. I wanted to build a fence as well, but I don't have enough time for that.
This part of the tutorial will deal with the pillars. The second part will deal with coating and painting them, and the third part will deal with the arch.


  • 34 x 34 mm lumber, 210 cm long, 5 pieces
  • 12 x 44 mm lumber, 210 cm long, 7 pieces
  • Nails
  • Styrofoam slabs, 2 cm thick, 50x100 cm
  • Styrofoam slabs, 3 cm thick, 50x100 cm
  • Liquid nails
  • PVC glue
  • PVC tube, 40 mm diameter
  • PVC couplers, 40 mm diameter, 4 pieces
  • PVC screw-on endcaps, 40 mm diameter, 2 pieces
  • Saw (electric, or as in my case, handsaw and miter box)
  • Hammer
The wooden frame
To get started, I constructed a wooden frame. This served as a skeleton to glue the styrofoam panels to, and as a base for the arch. I cut the following pieces of lumber:
  • 100 cm long, 34 x 34 mm, 8 pieces (vertical supports)
  • 50 cm long, 12 x 44 mm, 8 pieces (horizontal supports)
  • 52,4 cm long, 12 x 44 mm, 8 pieces (horizontal supports)
Out of a single 12 x 44 mm piece, I cut 2 50 cm and 2 52,4 cm long pieces, so 4 of these were needed for this part, along with 4 34 x 34 mm pieces.

I made 4 frames, using 2 50 cm long 12 x 44 mm pieces and 2 100 cm long 34 x 34 mm pieces. It is very important that all angles are 90°, or the entire construction will be wobbly and unstable! Connect 2 of these frames together with 52,4 cm long pieces, so it forms a box. Again, make sure all angles are 90°! I made 2 of these boxes.

Next, a support for the arch was needed. A piece of PVC tube is mounted in the box for this. A coupler will protrude from the top of the pillar, so the arch (wich will be modular, to make it easier to transport) simply slides in. But first, I had to make something to attach the tube to! For this, I cut another 4 50 cm long 12x44 mm pieces, and 4 52,3 cm long pieces. I attached them to the frame at 40 cm from the top. Next, I cut two 50 cm long 34x34 pieces, wich I used to bridge the center of the box. This will form the support for the arch.

That's for the bottom part of the support, but I also needed a support for the top. Here it's very important to work accurately, because otherwise the tube won't be vertical. I cut 4 50 cm long 12x44 mm pieces, and bridged the top of the box with them, with 4 cm of space between them. From leftovers of the 34x34 mm pieces, I cut 4 4 cm long pieces, wich I used to attach the two pieces together. You can see what I mean on the picture. You end up with a 4x4 cm hole the tube goes through.

The frames are ready, now it's time to install the PVC tubes! They are attached to the bottom support using a screw-on endcap. The endcap assembly consists of two parts: the cap itself and a threaded piece that's attached to the tube with a coupler. The cap is nailed to the bottom support, in the center. The threaded piece is glued to a 60 cm long piece of 40 mm PVC tube.

Next, the tubes are inserted through the top supports, screwed on the bottom supports, and secured to the top support with nails through the tube.

All that was left now was topping the tubes with a coupler. The arch will be inserted here.

Styrofoam panels
With the frame ready, it's time to glue the styrofoam panels on! I started by wrapping the entire box in 2 cm thick slabs. Now if only I thought about the measurements before I got started! The dimensions of the box are 52,4 x 52,4 x 100 cm. My styrofoam slabs are 50 x 100 cm. The perfect dimensions for the box would have been 48 x 48 x 100 cm, because then I could just glue 4 entire sheets on it and I wouldn't have to cut anything.

Next, I wrapped the lower 40 cm with a 3 cm thick slab, with the top edge cut at 45°. The top is built from a series of 3 cm thick pieces so it forms a protrusion, making the entire pillar about 120 cm high.


One more thing left to finish the styrofoam construction: cutting bricks in the styrofoam using a wood burning tool. I think the final result looks quite ok!

That's it for this part of the tutorial. In the next part, I will cover coating the construction with monster mud and painting.

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