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Saturday, September 17, 2011

How to Build a Cemetery

Every year I set up a cemetery for Halloween. Each year I buy a few more Styrofoam grave stones after the holiday when they are on clearance for 50%-75% off the retail price. I'm smart like that. This makes each Halloween season a little like Christmas when you get to open up all the new stuff you bought last year on clearance.

The problem is that the plastic stakes that come with the gravestones break easily, and they are often too short to hold the headstone in the ground during a windy storm. I spent a lot of time fixing the cemetery, repairing headstones and replacing the ones that were too torn up from frequent usage.

Last year I decided that I was going to find a solution to this problem. My original graveyard was just 4 grave stones. It has grown over the years to 38 headstones plus several grave diggers, an arch entryway, a gated entry and several other spooky and lighted goblins. With all of that to set up I was just over the constant maintenance of those gravestones.

What you will need for this project:

Styrofoam grave stones
 plastic fencing
2 X 2 X 8' pine boards
 Black spray paint and tent stakes
 3/16 washers and deck screws
 Step 1: Cut the 8 foot boards in half and spray paint them black. I suppose you could use black paint and a brush but I am far too impatient for that. Spray paint dries faster and doesn't require brushes/rollers/and it might be cheaper? I used 4 cans on this project. They were under $1 each at Wal-mart.
I drilled a hole into both ends of each 4' section of 2 X 2 about 6" in from the ends to stake the wood to the ground so the sections stay in place and are secured to the ground.
 Now...this is probably an optional step. I'm sort of a little obsessive/compulsive about small details. I tool a small saw and cut the tabs off of the sides of the fencing that are meat to connect them together since I will not be connecting them. You will have to cut the stakes off of the bottoms. You may be able to cut these off with a sharp box knife but please use caution. Missing digits are not sexy.
 Again-a little obsessive, but I spray painted the washers too, and the screw heads as well.
 I placed a grave stone at the end of the 4' section of 2 X 2. Then you screw on a screw and washer, 2 per headstone...like this. I do not have man hands. I had an assistant because...boys like to work for me. :) 
 I screwed the fencing in without washers. 2 screws per fence run. I then screwed another headstone into the other end to finish off the 4 feet of 2 X 2.
 I placed the tent stakes into the holes that were drilled in about 6 inches from each end and then pressed them into the ground.
A finished section looks like this once it is staked into the ground.

In short, I purchased 2 X 2 X 8' pine boards, spray painted them black, drilled holes 6 inches in from each end for tent stakes to hold them into the ground, I attached 2-3 headstones per 4' section of 2 X 2 with screws and 3/16 washers (that I spray painted black), and then I attached plastic fencing pieces between the gravestones to add some spooky graveyard character as well as to evenly space the headstones. Now the headstones are easy to set up, they stay in place all season (in theory...we'll see) and they will be easy to store for future years usage.

Here is what a bunch of these sections placed together looks like:

1 comment:

  1. That's awesome. I can't wait to show the kids the finished project!