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994 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This is my step-by-step on building a well. If you ever plan to follow this, please read through it first. There are things I would have changed and done differently.

After posting some questions on how to build this, I ended up with several ideas. I also ended up using my own plans.

I tried to keep this as budget friendly as possible.

The project was done for my church to be used in a play. The deadline was changed and I ended up having to rush to finish which is why I would have changed some things after I finished. I'm also really disappointed that I didn't get pictures of this IN USE at the church! Doh! I will take some 'final' shots though once I find out where they stored it.

Project: Well

Time to complete: est: 9 hours (that's with taking care of a 2 yr old)

est. $100 -- I had some items already, noted below


approx. 48 inches wide by 24 inches high (framework is 4ft wide (diameter) x 2ft tall. The actual 'wall' is 1 foot wide all the way around, meaning the hole in the center is 2 feet wide (1ft wall + 2ft hole + 1ft wall on other side = 4ft). The final dimensions change depending on home much material is added to the frame (so my final height was 26" because I added a 2ft 'cap' to the well)

Weight: Maybe... 50 pounds? I can lift it myself, however, to prevent damage (because of the awkward shape), two people can carry it fine (my extremely weak wife and I carried it 50 yards with ease)

4x8 Plywood - $6.50
2x2x8 'stakes' - $1.77ea (10.62)
1/4" Chicken wire (smallest mesh I could find);
(1)1/4"x24"x10' - $14
(1)1/4"x36x10' - $18
Joint Compound (5gal) - $8.50
(2) 3 1/2" Foam Seal roll - $4.67ea (9.34)
Box of screws (already had) min. 96 screws - $2-5 depending on the screw
At least a gallon for the Monster Mud - $5 (I only buy the 'returned' paint that was either color mismatched or someone didn't want)
Whatever colors you desire
Note: For this project I used monster mud. I used the 5:1 ration (compound to paint), but only need half that.
Box of 5000 (I think) staples - $9.80
4x8x2 Foam (not needed, but this was used as my 'cap' to the well) Only needed 1/3 of the sheet - $22
Weed Mat (already had) - I used a cloth-like material and I don't remember the cost
Staple gun
cement mixer attachment for drill (for monster mud)
Saw (jigsaw to cut plywood, circular for 'stakes')
Paint brushes


Cut the plywood right in half so you have to 4x4ft sections

Make them into 4ft circles. Find the center and nail a nail into it. Tie a string to the nail and stretch it out to the edge of the wood. Tie that end to a pencil. Just pull the pencil around the edge and you'll have a perfect circle. Cut.

Cut out the middle 'hole' to the well. Same method: Tie string to the center nail and stretch it out 12inches from there (will give you a 2ft circle). Drill a hole on your marks, stick the jigsaw in and cut. You now have 2 donuts.

Next, take your sections of 2x2's and cut each to length. Note: Each section is 8feet long, but don't cut them into 24inch sections because you won't get 4 pieces -- remember that when you cut, you are going to lose an 1/8 of inch or so with each cut (from the saw) so your last piece will be short. I cut mine 22".
With 6 pieces of 8ft length, you'll end up with 4 stakes each. 6x4=24 stakes.

I roughly spaced out where each stake would go --- one donut section on the bottom, the other on top. The stakes will become the frame 'walls'. Remember you'll need stakes along the outside AND inside.

This became an interesting dilemma because I was by myself and I couldn't figure out how to hold the stakes in place as I screwed them into the ply wood. I end up screwing them in like the picture -- a few from the bottom up, then turned it upside down and rested the donut on the stakes so I could secure the rest of the stakes:

I used a bit of wood glue for each stake. Two screws per end of each stake (24 stakes x 2 ends x 2 screws each end = 96 screws)

Flip over and do the same for the other donut:

Just showing the screws:

994 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Once comfortable with the frame, I wrapped in 2 materials 3 times.

First, I wrapped the frame (just the outside) with my cloth weed mat. Then, chicken wire. And, finally, another layer of the same cloth weed mat. The theory was that I could slap on monster mud to the chicken wire (for a sturdy structure) and the bottom weed mat would be what it adhered to. However, as tight as I pulled the chicken wire over the weed mat, I couldn't get it to be as tight as the weed mat. So, I put another section of weed mat over the chicken wire. Seemed to work fine and eventually gave a nice solid 'wall', but enough give so I could transport it without it breaking... anyway. Stapled EVERYTHING... A LOT.

My wife's cat in the photo... for reference I guess

Before I go on, two things:

FIRST - Know that the circumference (diameter times Pi (3.14)) of the well is about 12.5 feet. The roll of chicken wire is 10ft, that's why I got two rolls (the second roll was only a 24" high instead of 36" because it was cheaper)
SECOND - My wife had a good idea that I didn't have time to do. Put casters (little wheels) on the bottom for easy transportation. This would have been great and I could have done it with more time. She also suggest that I extend the weed mat/chicken wire/weed mat combination several inches below the bottom of the well to 'cover' the wheels. So if adding wheels that were, say 3 inches tall, to the bottom, I'd have an extra 3 inches of my combo extended past the frame. Again, didn't do it, but would have (this is the reason I bought the 36" chicken wire - to extend down).

All that excess was stapled nice and good to the donuts.

Never working with Monster Mud, I wasn't sure how to go about applying it. I used a brush instead of dipping the weed mat into the mud. I wanted it stapled to the well to make sure it'd stay there and dipping it would have really inhibited that.

So... stapled the final weed mat layer and really worked in the mud.

This is supposed to be a biblical well, so I didn't want to go with the traditional gray stone look. I went for sandstone. Here's half the joint compound and half gallon of paint (this ends up as the 'grout' color...

Applied to the mat:

A section completed:

By making the first layer of weed may very tight, I ended up with a nice rounded wall and couldn't tell where the stakes where when completed. HOWEVER, make sure you don't end up with lumps or folds from the chicken wire (like the one visible in the photo). It's a pain for the following steps.

994 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Trying to make sandstone, I researched some material and the stone look I wanted was a long rectangular, stacked stone. I used this foam:

...found in the insulation section. Very cheap and the right size (as I unrolled it, I just cut in fairly similar lengths). This is something I may have changed. In the end, the monster mud that covers this did NOT stick will. So if you rubbed, scraped, or poked the foam 'bricks' the wrong way, the monster mud just flaked right off (after it was painted as well). I'm not sure what I could do different. Probably different material... if I had time, maybe thick cardboard, or something similar. Not this porous foam though. The sheets of foam were too ridged. The reason I selected this blue foam was because, of course, the well is round and I needed a material that could easily conform to that - the typical foam just didn't have enough 'give'.


Once the well was coated, while it was still wet, I stuck the blue foam to it. While it was still wet, I covered the pieces with more mud. Filling in cracks, crevices, etc was a bit messy and some of the 'bricks' were sliding around, but was pretty easy.

This was something I may have changed as well - the spacing of the stones. Probably would have made them closer together, but that's just persona preference.

Unfortunately, these are all the photos I have RIGHT now.

Next steps:
Painting. This was tough for me. I was never happy with any colors I was coming out to. I tried LOTS of different kinds and ended settling on some reds/tans that were darked than the 'grout'. The paint covered any of the blue foam showing that I missed. However, if bumped into wrong, it was chipping.

I'll post pictures soon. That's all personal preference anyway. I painted while the mud was still wet. It blended nicely.

Also, I added styrofoam 'caps' to the top. Basically, I cut the 2 in foam into pie pieces and put them top. Secured with the rest of the monster mud, but it didn't dry in time so they were shifting all over during transportation. I'll be going back and using Liquid Nails to make sure they're secure. Again, painted similar colors. The cap was slightly bigger than the well itself so the edges hung out over the wall a couple inches.

For detail I started adding mold to the sides (it's a well right?). It didn't come out that well because I just ran out of time, but the method was to get some color green I liked and blot it on the top of the well under the cap and used a spray bottle to let it drip down the stones. It found its own path down and looked pretty realistic. Again... all personal preference.

That's about it. Or at least the basic jist of it. I stayed up till 4am on Friday night to have it finished by 9am that Saturday. I hate rushing things, so of course it could have been better, BUT I go t a lot of compliments and everyone was really impressed, so I guess, missioned accomplished. For the play, some props were added for effect - an old jug, ropes, vines around the bottom.

994 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Overall, it was a fun project with more potential. I think I"m going to try and incorporate it into Halloween this year once I figure out my theme...

Some notes:
As is, it's fragile - not the frame, but the mud/paint/foam -- it chips very easily. I'm not sure of the solution, but I have bought some sealant that I'm going to try... maybe it'll toughen it up a bit.

One of my goals was to keep it as light as possible. This had to be moved from one building to another between church services. As far as weight, I can carry the weight itself (Maybe 50lbs), but the shape is too awkward for one person. It barely fit into the back of my pickup, but the size fit through most doorways. With casters on the bottom, I think I would have been able to keep the chipping down to a minimum, since as everyone is picking it up and putting it down, it tended to start shedding like a dog. That became a big frustration.

Anyway, hope this helps... some of the other ideas out there were probably easier, like stacking foam on top of each other, but at $22 a sheet. However, to accomplish the same dimensions - 24 inches high - I would have needed 12 sections of 2 inch foam. That means 6 sheets (each 4x8ft sheet cut in half, same way as the plywood) and would have cost $132 on foam ALONE. This project cost me $97. Hope it helps!

994 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks. The biggest thing about this project was finding and combining materials to make a round structure. Flat is easy, but round was the challenge.

994 Posts
Discussion Starter #10

Well, like I mentioned, I had a problem with the monster mud not sticking to the foam. It chipped way too easy. So... I don't know how different the pink foam is from this stuff, but just be wary. This blue foam was very pourous.

Dead and loving it.
1,620 Posts
I see. Couldn't you put the chicken wire on top of the foam? You might have to slather the mud on a bit thick but I think it might work. Or how about a light sanding with some fine grit sand paper (by hand of course)?

I have to check my mud from last year. It might be moldy and that would suck. Good thing I bought another big bucket. :D

Did I mention I'm also a Halloween packrat? I have been told I have an ace hardware in my garage. Now where's that sales clerk darn it!?! I can't find nothing!

994 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Well, the foam is only used to make the stones, and if I put chicken wire over it, I'd lose the stones. I wanted just a bit of depth which is why I used the foam in the first place (instead of just painting on stones).

I didn't even try sanding because I just didn't have the time, however, I imagine the same results. The foam, besides being porous is very soft, which is the real reason it chips so easily -- the mud makes a 'solid' layer, but if you accidentally touch it or push it, the foam gives out and causes the cracks.

I tried taking some of my stryofoam sheeting and cutting it to size (both length, width, and depth), and the monster mud stuck fine without cracking, BUT, the foam was too tough and rigid that it didn't conform to the roundness of the wall.

Basically, I'm just saying if anyone tries something similar, to do a test run on whatever material you use.

You wouldn't happen to have any air compressors for sale in your store wouldja'?

1,056 Posts
Cool project. Great instructions. See the conundrum. If the donut shape (looking down) had a larger inner circle, more would fit inside and the prop would be lighter ... but also might flex more.

Regardless - it's cool
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