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maandag 27 november 2017

Cemetery Crosses

Besides tombstones, I wanted new crosses for my cemetery. My first set of tombstones I made in 2013 did have a cross, but because of the wide pedestal, it wasn't easy to transport, and it was the first prop to get damaged. Time to start building something new!

  • 20mm thick XPS Foam
  • Particle board (leftovers from our old kitchen)
  • Trim molding
  • Polyurethane glue
  • Wood screws
  • Drill & screwdriver
  • Band saw
  • Wood burning tool
  • Scenic Dope (see my Tombstone Tutorial for that)
  • Matte varnish
The problem with my first cross was, like I said, the wide pedestal. This was necessary to keep it standing, but it made it a pain in the ass to get in and out of the car. I wanted to make my props easier to transport this time (that's why I made the tomb for holding the tombstones), so I had to come up with something new.
So here's the basic idea. The crosses will be a lot taller than the tombstones, so storing them in the tomb won't be possible. They will still need a pedestal for stability, but they also need to be easier to transport. So here's my solution: I made the cross and the pedestal two separate pieces that can easily be taken apart for transport and storage.
I wanted to use styrofoam for the cross, because it's cheap, light and easy to work with, but this wouldn't be strong enough for props that need to be put together and taken apart. Luckily, I had a lot of leftover particle board from our old kitchen. My wife and I had a new kitchen installed earlier this year, and I kept anything I thought would be useful from the old one, wich includes a few large panels.
So here's how I'm going to build them. The pedestal will consist of a wooden box with styrofoam for the ornaments. The cross will have a wooden core that protrudes from the bottom, and fits in a hole in the pedestal, sort of like a tenon-and-mortise joint. The wooden pedestal will also make it bottom heavy and more stable.

The pedestals
I started with the pedestals. Basically a simple wooden box, with a hole in the top for installing the cross. Well, not just simple a hole, I also made this contraption (don't know what else to call it) inside to keep the cross upright; this is the "tenon" part of the tenon-and-mortise joint. The boxes are put together with wood glue and screws.

Speaking of screws, I always, always buy Torx screws, even though they cost a bit more than Phillips screws. I hate cruciform screws, because the screwdriver always has a tendency to slip out of the head. Torx screws don't have this problem.

Because I didn't want the pedestals to look like boring boxes, I decorated the edges with trim molding, and made frames on all sides of the boxes. I wanted to put on more decorations on them, but again, I didn't have enough time.

The crosses
Next up, the crosses themselves. I first drew them on sheets of foam, and roughly cut them out. I then cut a piece of wood for the core, and glued it to the back. Some more strips of foam were glued on to enclose the wood, and finally another sheet of foam to close the back, so the wooden core is fully enclosed in the foam.

On the front, I let my imagination run wild. By now, I had a lot of small foam scraps lying around, and I turned them into all sorts of decorations.

I tested them to see if the crosses and the pedestals fit together, and behold, it worked perfectly! Before I started painting, I carved some cracks and chipped corners with a wood burning tool.

The painting was done the same way as my other props for this year. As described in my Tombstone tutorial, I painted them with scenic dope mixed with sand first, for the base color and the rock texture. This was followed by a dark gray wash and white drybrushing.

To weatherproof the paint, I clearcoated them with matte varnish. This did mess up the drybrushing a bit in some spots, so I had to go over it again.


The crosses are very easy to transport, and very stable. They held up perfectly in the rain, although in some places on the pedestals, the paint didn't hold well. I think this was because the panels were still a bit greasy in some places (our old kitchen was quite dirty...). Nothing that can't be fixed, though!

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