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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Dallas,Texas
    Posts
    307

    Default Cemetery Columns and Gate Advice

    I just finished off some smaller props for the 2012 build season and now I'm beginning the planning stages of the biggest build of this year. Starting now so I can hopefully finish off these props prior to the blazing hot summers of Texas! I am wanting to build a new cemetery fence, two stone (foam) columns with lanterns attached, two ornate cemetery gates, and an arch with my haunt name (Falling Leaves Cemetery) to span between the columns.

    I have an ideal of how I will be building the fencing. Just the standard PVC pipe with wood for the railings. I'll top off the PVC with ornate spear finials. Theres tons of How-to's on this subject.

    I've also come across many great tutorials on cemetery columns as well that I've gathered plenty of info from.

    So, the question I pose to those that have built columns and gates and fencing before is "what do I need to know?" What were some of the tips and tricks to these builds? What would you have changed or done differently? What would you wish you had known prior to an prop undertaking of this size? What did you learn? What worked and what didn't? Also, what methods of construction proved beneficial as well as what just plain did not work at all? Hindsight is 20/20, and I know after finishing off any prop I've built I think to myself "I wish I just did it this way to begin with!".

    A large order I know, and I hope I'm not coming off as too needy. I just want to pick the brains of those who have traveled down this road that I will be journeying down very soon. Thanks in advance everyone.
    "By the pricking of my thumb....something wicked this way comes"

    "The tragedy of life is not death....the tragedy of life is not living"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Sherman Oaks, CA
    Posts
    1,201

    Default

    For me, the one thing I regret not doing is outfitting my columns with some sort of shelf and hatch so that I could put things inside of them, like lights or projectors.

    The only other major thing is that I wish I had the time prior to setup to actually weather seal them. Unfortunately they went into the yard with only a coat of latex paint and nothing else. This year I'll finally get a chance to seal them and make some repairs that occurred because of swelling of the MDF that I used.
    Better Haunts and Gardens.com - Giving recognition to home haunters 365 days a year!

    Submit your haunt to the BH&G Haunt Finder HERE

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    785

    Default

    I agree completely with Dminor. My first and foremost advice would be to thoroughly consider your power and lighting needs. I wish that when I built my arch I would have incorporated a power source for 1) power for led lighting in the arch itself and 2) having the ability to get power to the other side (up and over). Nothing drives me up the wall more that having extension cords running everywhere. As I add/upgrade to my cemetery, intergrating power and lighting is going to be at the top of my list.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Apopka, FL
    Posts
    242

    Default

    I'm no expert, but I just built my columns and fence last year. Check out my album "Columns and Fence 2011" if you'd like. I have no regrets, except maybe to have a better plan to keep them up and secure. My columns weren't strong enough to brace the fence, so I used rebar inside the PVC "pickets". I wish I had used longer rebar. My rebar was only 3 foot long, once I pounded it into the ground, there wasn't enough inside the pickets to properly brace the fence. I ended up tying fishing line as diagonal braces (like tent poles) to keep it secure. This ended up being a tripping hazard for me. This year I will use a minimum of 48" long rebar. Maybe even 60". I recommend using 2 pieces of rebar minimum per 8' long fence panel. My build was a last minute deal last year, this year I plan to "scallop" the tops and maybe add finials. I am sooooooo glad I made the whole thing so it would break down for easy storage (see my last picture). Have fun!!!!
    Putting the laughter back in manslaughter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Dallas,Texas
    Posts
    307

    Default

    Using the columns as storage lockers is brilliant. That will be a definite must! I want to incorporate some led spots on top of the column to illuminate the arch so organized and ample wiring will be a priority as well. Dmimor- what do you recommend as weather proofing for the columns? I agree with this notion in that I will have to store the columns outside all year long. Great responses so far. Keep them coming.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Simi Valley, CA, USA.
    Posts
    2,316
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    I think I'm in the same vein as the others. The plan this year is to building a new fence and columns (5). I want to integrate lighting into each column to eliminate some floodlights in the front this year. The other thing I want to do is add speakers to at least 2-3 of the columns, maybe all. It will give me option to run sound effects towards the front rather than right at the prop or from the crypt (where the music usually emanates from). Alot of people use foam for pillars, but we used wood. It makes it easier for me to store without sweating possible damage and repainting. Depending on budget, I may just "skin" my wood pillars with foam to allow more detail and to not have to rebuild. Since our columns are wood - they're painted with latex house paint and stone fleck paint for texture - no weatherproofing. Mine are 8 years old and are outside all year as well.

    I guess the thing is - think of every possible use for your columns you may want in the future. Good luck and post pics!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Michigan,just south of the Artic Circle
    Posts
    2,549

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dminor View Post
    For me, the one thing I regret not doing is outfitting my columns with some sort of shelf and hatch so that I could put things inside of them, like lights or projectors.

    The only other major thing is that I wish I had the time prior to setup to actually weather seal them. Unfortunately they went into the yard with only a coat of latex paint and nothing else. This year I'll finally get a chance to seal them and make some repairs that occurred because of swelling of the MDF that I used.
    I had designed my columns for bad weather and altered them as needed. I sealed my, painted them with weather based paints. I designed my own hinges as well. Nevertheless, don't be hard on yourself, you can't plan for everything and more often than not, you have to expercience bad things in order to plan for disaster. You will be changing things every year. Seems that way for me. I built the columns one year, added lighting the next year as well as a gate.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    160
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    I have column made both from foam (wood frame) and all wood. The wooden ones are definitely sturdier but the foam look better..as far as a gate goes, the one thing I had a difficult time with was a curved top section. I tried many different thing but ended up using the method described by John Nelson (at least I think that is his name). His site has some great tutorials even if it hasn't been updated in a decade!http://usersites.horrorfind.com/home.../projects.htmlName:  IMG_0309_R.jpg
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    Whispers in the Park
    A creature held his heart in his hands and ate of it. I said, "Is it good, friend?" "It is bitter - bitter, but I like it because it is bitter and because it is my heart." -S. Crane

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Dallas,Texas
    Posts
    307

    Default

    Thanks for the input everyone. One other thing Id like to know. What were some effective methods for anchoring your columns down? Im figuring mine to be two and a half feet square and about seven feet tall. An object this tall and slender will definitely need some sort of anchoring to keep it from toppling over. Any ideals?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Dryden, Michigan
    Posts
    1,084

    Default

    What I have done with mine, is I will sink a 2X4 in the ground where the columns will be, and slip my columns over the 2X4 and screw through the columns into the 2X4. Works perfect every year. When you're done, remove the 2X4 and just fill the hole in.
    Always scarying the YELL out of them.

 

 
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