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So since I started doing a Halloween display, I used this fence from Spirit Halloween. The purpose of the fence is not only decorative, but serves the important function of letting people know not to walk back there. The trouble was, this fence was frankly a major pain in the butt. The way the sections attached was difficult to line up, came apart too easily, and the plastic stakes were impossible to drive into the ground. Every year I would fight with it and swear I was going to make something myself to replace it. This details my replacement build.

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Started off with making a framework for the gate columns. These are made with furring strips (cheap wood).

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Three sides of the columns. I'm not permanently attaching the fourth side because I'm going to have the back removable, allowing me to put electronics, fog machine, speakers, lights, etc. in them.

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Columns clad with 1" extruded foam.

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Put 2" foam on the bottom of the columns to build it out a bit more.

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Cut some holes in the foam where I'm going to "expose the brick". Also distressed the foam with a heat gun.

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Added decorative molding (which I also distressed on one column), added some foam panels that I cut into a brick pattern, and added L brackets to attach the gate and fence to.

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Put a coat of Drylok primer on the columns (to give a concrete-like texture) and put the base coat of brick red on the bricks.
 

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Painted the mortar lines and the columns with some gray paint and dry brushed.

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Had to give the cemetery a name so I named it after the mill down the street, These are the letters cut from 1" extruded foam. And yeah... I realized before Halloween that I had misspelled cemetery... I fixed that later.

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Letters with black primer.

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Now a coat of hammered copper spray paint. The primer is important because spray paint will melt the foam.

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I deliberately left the primer thin in a few place, because the places where the foam melts gives it the look of corroded metal.

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Finally did a light spray of jade spray paint to make the lettering look like rusted copper. Did this lightly to let some of the copper show through.
 

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Cut out the archway to go above the columns from 1/2" plywood

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Posts added and put on a coat of gesso to help fill in the grain of the plywood.

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Coat of primer

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Coat of rust colored spray paint as an underlayer

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Tried using an antiquing technique where I put down a layer of Elmer's glue. Then lightly painted over with black paint and then hit it with the heat gun. Note that while this had a great effect, I wouldn't recommend it because the first good rain dissolves the glue (d'oh!) and I had to redo it. I later came up with some much better rusting techniques that I will detail later.

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Here I've added a coat of black paint and used the heat gun. I also added a couple of solar powered lawn lights to cap off the posts. I had to remove the lawn spike on the lights and I treated the lights similarly to the letters (making sure to mask off the solar panels first). Also the pipe was just a bit too small to accept the lights so I cut a couple of slots in the ends and then duct taped them back together.

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Here is another rusting technique I tried. I mixed sawdust (which I had gathered a good supply of by now) with rust colored paint and dabbed it on in a few spots

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Added the lettering, skull, and created wings with Apoxie Sculpt. I still haven't gotten to fix the spelling as of yet.

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Arch with the lights temporarily removed (didn't want to take a chance on breaking the glass while I was moving it around.
 

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I really love your archway! The addition of the solar lights is a really nice touch. You have got me thinking in a different way about how I can finish off the very simple columns I'm making for my driveway this season. Thanks for sharing this! I hope you're going to make a gate across your columns, because that's what I'm stuck on. LOL!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Jenn and/or Matt. I did build a gate and will post those photos shortly, plus something extra which I'm going keep a surprise for now.
 

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Starting in on the gate. I took a 4" PVC pipe and sliced it up like a salami with my miter saw to make the rings (width measured to be the same as the rails). I cut strips of luan plywood to make the outer layers of the rails. Four were the same length and the other two somewhat shorter (to accommodate the bottom of the columns where they were thicker). I took a couple of scrap pieces of 1/2" PVC pipe to determine the placement of the pickets. There was a little space left over which I left in the middle. Then I cut a bunch of pieces of wood to space the pickets the same width as the 4" PVC (note... nominal width, if you do this, be sure to actually measure the outside diameter). I was originally going to get some plastic finials, but then was able to find some real cast iron ones for even cheaper (score!). As an added bonus, the finals were sized pretty well to fit inside the 1/2" PVC.

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Laminated the luan with the spacer pieces of wood together to make the rails. The holes are sized to fit the 1/2" PVC. You can see here where I made up the difference in the center (I figure that will look like where the gate was meant to open).

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Stuck the finials into the 1/2" PVC pickets with some epoxy putty. The penguin duct tape is just temporary to hold them together until the epoxy sets.

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Epoxy has set and the penguin duct tape has been removed. Note that I cut these to different lengths to create an arch.

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Fed the pickets into the the rails and drove a screw though the luan into the PVC to hold it together.

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Spray painted a base coat of rust colored spray paint over the gate

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This was a rusting technique that I discovered completely by accident and it is by far my favorite. When I left the gate out overnight some morning dew had collected on it. When I spray painted the black over it, the dew prevented the black paint from binding over the rust spray paint. I liked the effect so much that I got a spray bottle and misted the whole gate. The effect is to leave little "rust" spots everywhere the water was.

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Gate completed
 

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Discussion Starter #12
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Spelling corrected

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Now to connect the columns and the arch. Here are the pieces of one of the column caps. The PVC pipe for the arch posts will drop into a flange bolted onto a square of plywood. The gargoyle was a hollow plastic one I bought ($9.99 each!). I modified it by drilling a hole in the mouth, running a fuel line tube through it and filling the inside with expanding insulating foam. The plan is to install some plumbing to have a fog machine pump fog out of the gargoyles' mouths.

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Smoke machine I got for free from a friend. In order to fit it into the column, I had to remove the casing, rearrange the parts, and reassemble them on a plywood shelf I built inside the column (I also built a shelf for a sound system to fill the cemetery with spooky noises).

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The caps assembled. They have nails sticking out of them to hold the foam in place while the liquid nails cure.

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Column caps after being primed.

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Running a "smoke" test. You can see the rest of the graveyard is being assembled behind the gate.

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Discussion Starter #18
Jen and/or Matt, Thanks a lot! If you do attempt something similar, let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to help.
 

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WOW... that's an incredible job!!!! .... I was also wondering where you found the gargoyles?
 
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