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~zombie hunter~
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Hi all,
I was wondering If I could get a little help. This year I plan on making old fashiond (pioneer like) tombstones. I would like to make them out of cement. My question is what should I use for a base and a frame?
 

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I'm not sure I know what you're asking. The base and frame? Do you mean the mold for them or a base and something to hold them up after they are cast?

I'd use a wooden box filled with damp sand as the mold. You could cast them with a couple of pvc tube "holes" in them to allow you to slide them onto rebar pounded into the ground. I'd use acrylic fortifier in the cement also, you'll find it at home improvement stores.
 

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Why cement?why not blue or pink foam?Cement is heavy and breaks and as your dragging them out to set up and back to storage you'll ask the same thing.you can use drylock to give it that stone look.Thank terra for that idea.
 

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1031 Props
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I also agree with the foam suggestion. Unless you're real set on making concrete tombstones that will more than likely weigh between 30-50lbs each (depending on how big you are making them). Foam graves are so much easier to work with plus you can create much cooler headstones and designs with foam.
 

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Vlad the Impaler
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Way back when I wanted cement tombstones I found molds on ebay. The problem was that they would come out the same unless you bought diffrent molds and how do you put epitaphs on them? Also they were only 14 or 13 inches high which is way to small for my tastes. Thats why I went to pink foam bord instead. Much more easy.
 

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Yeah, I just don't think someone could pay me to make cement tombstones... I think the foam ones look close enough to concrete, no matter what shape or style you are looking for, and with drylock, monster mud, or Flek-Stone you can get the same texture, they are just so much easier to move, setup, store, etc.

Maybe if you detailed what characteristics you are looking for that you feel cement gives you that you don't think you can get from foam, we could be of more help.
 

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Well since your question was about cement tombstones, not how to make a cement-looking tombstone, I'll do what I can to help you accomplish what you want.

A large box with wet sand can be used to create a different mold each time you cast. You can use a block of wood to pack down the sand into the shape you want. Lettering and other embellishments can be added by pressing wood or plastic letters into the sand to leave an impression. Lettering that looks carved into the stone can be made by placing clay letters onto the sand. Use a water based clay, as the letters get picked up in the cement. When the cement has cured, hose off the sand and the clay letters will dissolve, leaving nice engraving on the stone.

If you want a tombstone that is incredibly durable and nearly impervious to weather, won't blow away or get carried off, and will only look better when left outside, cement is a great choice.

I think casting is far easier than building with foam, less toxic, less mess, and cheaper too.
 

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I would have to agree if cement is what you want than casting is the way to go. just the way lurks in the shadows say using pre made letters or symbols as part of the process. Especially for what you want. You could also sand blast letters using a templet much in the way they actually carve stones. Dont forget to use something to re enforce the material rebar chicken wire screen just something to hold it together.

And please dont feel that any one is belittling you its just that the logistics of real stones are tough. Most stones are carved from solid rock which is tuff but cement tends to crumble or worse crack and break in storage never mind the weight.
 

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If cement is the way you want to go one thing I have been told is DO NOT use beach sand in your molds due to the salt will corrode the cement and hamper the curing of the cement.
 

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Well since your question was about cement tombstones, not how to make a cement-looking tombstone, I'll do what I can to help you accomplish what you want.

A large box with wet sand can be used to create a different mold each time you cast. You can use a block of wood to pack down the sand into the shape you want. Lettering and other embellishments can be added by pressing wood or plastic letters into the sand to leave an impression. Lettering that looks carved into the stone can be made by placing clay letters onto the sand. Use a water based clay, as the letters get picked up in the cement. When the cement has cured, hose off the sand and the clay letters will dissolve, leaving nice engraving on the stone.

If you want a tombstone that is incredibly durable and nearly impervious to weather, won't blow away or get carried off, and will only look better when left outside, cement is a great choice.

I think casting is far easier than building with foam, less toxic, less mess, and cheaper too.
I really like this idea! I was going to go the foam route, but since I don't have any of the tools yet, concrete seems so much easier. Plus it will have that "authentic" feel.

Any pictures of some concrete stones you've made?
 

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What could be a potential issue with engraving wood for a mold to do concrete is if the wood had any negative draft in it. The wood would have to be completely positive in draft, otherwise the concrete and wood will stick together because both are rigid material. It is a good idea, there would just have to be several boxes to make different stones.

I really like the sand idea because you'd just need one box of sand and could virtually create anything for the mold. You could make impressions of ornate wood carvings, the faces of gargoyles or demons, skeletons, virtually anything. I'm definitely going to give this one a try!
 

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I think another good way to make cement tombstones would be to create a Rectangle frame (not to deep) with a bottom and four walls.


Then inside the frame create your tombstone shape. And line it with plastic so it doesn't stick to the wood.


Mix your cement and pour into your shape until desired level of thickness.


Then while the cement is setting up you could personalize each tombstone. You could use your finger or stamps, whatever you have around. This will have your letters indented rather than having them sticking out as with the sand method. Then just turn it over and pop out your tombstone. Is that what you were talking about?

Yes, I know, I am a gifted artist, LOL
 

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Resident Lunatic
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Some good ideas here. I might only add that I assembled the wooden molds with screws. Then the mold can be disassembled for easy removal of the stones.
 

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Keep in mind that the cement will pick up the surface texture of the mold.
That's another reason sand is popular.
It can be packed down to a fairly smooth surface, and what sticks to the cement can be wire brushed off, or wait a few days and pressure wash the stones.

If you want a negative image in the cement (carved into it), all you need is a casting of that object made of a water soluble material. No undercuts is always a good idea, but in this case not too much of a concern as you dissolve the positive away.

Say you want a skull face carved into the stone. Make a mold of the face from a flexible material backed with a rigid mother mold.
Now make some jello. Yep, jello. The color might stain the cement so unflavored (and uncolored) gelatin is probably best.
Use the "Jello Jiggler" recipe from a box of flavored jello, just add one extra ingredient, sand.
Basically you use the gelatin as a binder to hold the sand together. The mixture should be fairly firm, nearly all sand.
Fill your mold with this, being careful to avoid any air pockets.
After the gelatin has set, pop out your skull face.
Trim the back flat, at the angle and depth you want the carving to be. The deeper the carving, the more likely that the gelatin will become distorted from the weight of the cement, so don't go too deep.
Place the gel/sand skull face in your sand mold, toothpicks can help keep it in place if you are worried it might shift.
As with the clay letters, when you demold, a spray with a garden hose should remove any trace of the gel/sand mix.
 

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Lurks, I'd love to see any pictures of your stones if you get a chance. This sounds so easy to do.

Perhaps a step-by-step tutorial with pictures would be a great addition to the forum.
 

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Sorry Crash, I don't have any pictures. I made cement headstones for a customers haunted trail many years ago. He wanted an abandoned graveyard out in his woods.

If you have any questions I'll be glad to help, but I'm sick as a dog right now, (my immune system is still shot from the cancer and chemo, every little sniffle turns into bronchitis!), so I don't know how much I'll be online.
 
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