How to make glowing weathered columns

Making custom props for your Halloween yard display can be as simple as throwing together some scraps of wood to make some creepy looking entrance columns.

For last year’s haunted cemetery display, I built two columns out of scrap plywood. To increase the spooky factor this year, I also added a flickering lantern box, also made out of scrap plywood and some cheap portfolio covers.

Here’s last year’s column. It’s a simple hollow 1/2″ plywood box mounted to a plywood base. To give it some depth, I also added 1/8″ plywood strips to the edges and used the same strips to create a cross on three sides. Dry brushing with a lighter grey helps age the column.

To make the lantern box, make a simple box out of plywood and cut out crosses on three sides. Make sure the box also has a base so you can screw it to the bottom column. Drilling holes at the end point of each cross will make it easier to cut out the crosses. You don’t need to spend much time sanding everything smooth, as you want a “rough” look. You could also have all four sides with crosses, but for these ones, I have an 8′ board on the back of the column that will be supports for a cemetery sign.

Make a simple removable lid for the box. This ensures it’s easy to put in a blinking light or a flashlight.  For obvious reasons, don’t use a real candle… Beveling the edges of the lid adds a little more to the details without getting too fancy. You could also bevel the top piece, or add a finial or knob. I left these ones plain so I could add a skull at some point.

Give the box a quick coat of dark grey paint. The paint for these props was courtesy of the Walmart mis-tint section. $2 for a gallon of paint! Don’t worry about giving it more than one coat, because you want the finished box to have an old, faded weathered look.

Dry brush the box with a lighter grey paint and screw it down onto the main column.

Using some cheap clear red portfolio covers I picked up from a discount bargain bin ($0.33 each) I cut out small pieces and stapled them to the inside of the box.  For my light source, I used a cheap bicycle LED light with a strobe effect to give the appearance of a flickering candle.

Paint the 8′ boards that are attached to the back of the columns. For depth, you can also use some of the same 1/8″ plywood strips to create a “feature frame” that in this case, features a lovely (foam) femur. The only thing left to add is some dry brushing on the boards.

Next, I need to create the cemetery sign that will be supported by these two columns.

However, if you don’t need a sign, you could build any number of these – two work well for an entrance, but you could also make several of them to line a driveway.  Instead of lantern boxes, you could also just create the bottom column parts and mount carved pumpkins on the top.

Happy haunting.

Update:  I found some great little figures on sale at Michaels.  They made a perfect addition to the tops of the boxes.



One Response to How to make glowing weathered columns

  1. Anonymous September 29, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    Great looking columns! I think I'm going to make a set of these this year. Thanks for the detailed instructions.

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