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Discussion Starter #1
Alright guys, My wife told me today that she wants a Harry Potter inspired archway over the doorway over the driveway. My driveway is 24' across so there is plenty of room. I'm thinking something that looks like this the archway over wizarding world (I'll try to post a picture). I will build the facade out of insulation foam board (a lot of it), but what is best to build the frame out of? PVC? Pallets? Lumber? I do need to be able to break it down during the off season, the city wouldn't care much for me leaving it up year round, so I need to be able to build it in such a way that it disassembles.
718285


What do you guys suggest?
 

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Alright guys, My wife told me today that she wants a Harry Potter inspired archway over the doorway over the driveway. My driveway is 24' across so there is plenty of room. I'm thinking something that looks like this the archway over wizarding world (I'll try to post a picture). I will build the facade out of insulation foam board (a lot of it), but what is best to build the frame out of? PVC? Pallets? Lumber? I do need to be able to break it down during the off season, the city wouldn't care much for me leaving it up year round, so I need to be able to build it in such a way that it disassembles.
View attachment 718285

What do you guys suggest?
I'm not sure how to build it, but I bet a couple of forum haunters such as @Nixie and @yardhauntjunkie could give you a few pointers. Their facades are pretty amazing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah, I'm sitting here pricing out the supplies for this project and trying to figure out how to talk my wife into scaling down the project.
 

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Yeah, I'm sitting here pricing out the supplies for this project and trying to figure out how to talk my wife into scaling down the project.
Yeah supplies can get pricey. I made my mausoleum mostly out of a bunch of recycled material that I got for free. If I would have had to buy everything it would not have gotten built.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It will be freestanding. I was thinking some columns as bases with an archway over them. I've scaled down the project from what I originally had in my head, but I think I'm still going to do it.
 

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Consider following the guidelines of folks who actually created something similar to what you want. For the most part, when it comes to creating large props, builders will go with the tried and true stage set walls or flats. How complicated and sturdy you make them really depends on how long you're going to have this archway around before your wife decides you really need to build something new. :)

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The image above is a prop made by the pair at Hollywood Haunters. It's created by putting together a mosaic of set flats. You can watch them throw it together in their video


Just about everyone does something similar. Even HauntedWyo's wonderful mausoleum is basically four stage flat walls joined together. If you're willing to search around, you can build them for very little, but it does take a bit of running around to find free foam, wood, and the like. Still, it's what we do. Our cheapest mausoleum facade cost us nothing, and our most expensive facade cost maybe thirty bucks because we have store bought parts to it.

Depending on what you want to do, you can build a simple facade that looks like what you want from the front, but looks like a prop when you walk past it. All of ours are that way because once the kids are headed up the stairs for candy, they really don't care what the backside looks like. You might wind up making a free standing prop that looks real on all sides. It's pretty much the same thing, just joining all those flats together in a way that works to give you what you want.

And true to Harry Potter in the real world, you're going to use foam to create almost everything. Making it hard coated costs a bundle, so most of us leave that to Universal Studios, but even that is something you can do given the right budget. Our budget says we fix the dings that happen along the way. :)
 

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For my mausoleum I recycled as much as possible. I used free styrofoam that was either from old hot tub covers, or packing material from around appliances that I cut into bricks/blocks. I used the luan from flat panel hollow core doors to sheet my 2"x2" wall frames. My hubby carefully went around the narrow edges with a skill saw to cjut the luan away from the interior frames of the doors. I ripped down 2"x4"s as one 2"x2" was about the same price as one 2"x4" so by ripping a 2"x4" I basically got two 2"x2"s for the price of one. I glued the styrofoam bricks/blocks down to the luan with left over latex paint. Oops paint is also pretty in-expensive if you don't have any left over paint just sitting around. I had to weigh the styrofoam down as the paint cured, but you pretty much have to do that with any sort of glue too. To hard coat my mausoleum I mixed sawdust into latex paint until it was about brownie batter consistency and then I just painted it on. The sawdust I used was what one would get after sanding wood. I did have sawdust one would get after cutting wood with a saw, but I did not like the texture it gave on my mausoleum. You could also use mortar mix mixed into a latex paint and water mixture. I did a 50/50 paint and water mixture and then added in the mortar mix until it was about as thick as the paint was before it was thinned with water to hard coat my tombstones. I applied at least 2 coats of paint either way.

After I had all my styrofoam bricks/blocks cut I later learned I could get free styrofoam coolers from my local hospital and medical clinics. Medication gets shipped in the coolers. They are made with 2" thick styrofoam. So if you decide to try and recycle things for the project check out your local hospital or clinics or even pharmacies and see if they will let you have whatever coolers they get in. You can also check with your local Habitat For Humanity Re-Store, if you have one nearby, for various supplies.

You can make your arch as expensive or as inexpensive as you want. Just depends on how much leg work you want to put into finding supplies and how much work you want to put in in prepping everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
For my mausoleum I recycled as much as possible. I used free styrofoam that was either from old hot tub covers, or packing material from around appliances that I cut into bricks/blocks. I used the luan from flat panel hollow core doors to sheet my 2"x2" wall frames. My hubby carefully went around the narrow edges with a skill saw to cjut the luan away from the interior frames of the doors. I ripped down 2"x4"s as one 2"x2" was about the same price as one 2"x4" so by ripping a 2"x4" I basically got two 2"x2"s for the price of one. I glued the styrofoam bricks/blocks down to the luan with left over latex paint. Oops paint is also pretty in-expensive if you don't have any left over paint just sitting around. I had to weigh the styrofoam down as the paint cured, but you pretty much have to do that with any sort of glue too. To hard coat my mausoleum I mixed sawdust into latex paint until it was about brownie batter consistency and then I just painted it on. The sawdust I used was what one would get after sanding wood. I did have sawdust one would get after cutting wood with a saw, but I did not like the texture it gave on my mausoleum. You could also use mortar mix mixed into a latex paint and water mixture. I did a 50/50 paint and water mixture and then added in the mortar mix until it was about as thick as the paint was before it was thinned with water to hard coat my tombstones. I applied at least 2 coats of paint either way.

After I had all my styrofoam bricks/blocks cut I later learned I could get free styrofoam coolers from my local hospital and medical clinics. Medication gets shipped in the coolers. They are made with 2" thick styrofoam. So if you decide to try and recycle things for the project check out your local hospital or clinics or even pharmacies and see if they will let you have whatever coolers they get in. You can also check with your local Habitat For Humanity Re-Store, if you have one nearby, for various supplies.

You can make your arch as expensive or as inexpensive as you want. Just depends on how much leg work you want to put into finding supplies and how much work you want to put in in prepping everything.


Well, I confirmed with my materials manager that they get tons of these coolers and he is going to start saving them for me.
 

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Well, I confirmed with my materials manager that they get tons of these coolers and he is going to start saving them for me.
That is awesome. I am going to go and talk to someone at my local hospital after Halloween to see about getting some myself. I have to do some re-arranging of my storage to make sure I have a space to put them.

Invest in a hot knife of some sort. I got mine through Harbor Freight for around $20. It will make cutting the styrofoam so much easier and less of a mess. Hot Wire Cutters are also nice and I have been looking at some tutorials on how to make my own hot wire cutters, just haven't had time to make one yet. I used the Hot Knife to cut my bricks/blocks for the mausoleum and to cut out my tombstone shapes. I used a soldering iron to do the engraving on my tombstones. I have a Dremel I could have used for the engraving, but wasn't sure just how well it would have worked on the white bead styrofoam. I know the Dremel works great on the pink and blue rigid foam insulation.
 

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I'm excited to see how many they come up with. This could be a really fun project, but I don't think I'll have enough for my archway before this halloween.
You never know. I don't know how big your hospital is, or how big your town is, but they could deliveries daily. Check with clinics or pharmacies as well just in case.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
My hospital owns all the clinics and one of the pharmacies in town. So I have access to almost ALL OF IT (bwahahahah, evil laugh). We get deliveries 2-3 times/week that include the foam coolers. Should get my first stack tomorrow.
 

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My hospital owns all the clinics and one of the pharmacies in town. So I have access to almost ALL OF IT (bwahahahah, evil laugh). We get deliveries 2-3 times/week that include the foam coolers. Should get my first stack tomorrow.
LUCKY!!!
Every little bit helps. It's that much that you won't have to buy. Also if you have a Home Depot or maybe even a Lowes or other big lumber yard ask them if you can have their stickers. They are the pieces of wood about the size of 2"x4"s that are under stacks of lumber so fork lifts can lift up the stacks. They have a groove on one side so that the plastic straps they use to bundle lumber with stays in place. They are about 4' in length and can be any sort of wood. Wood like redwood, pressure treated, pine, oak, ...etc. I grab a bunch just about every time I go to Home Depot. They give them to me free as they are just going to throw them away anyways. I have used them in several different builds. You could maybe use them for some of the framework in your build.
 

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My hospital owns all the clinics and one of the pharmacies in town. So I have access to almost ALL OF IT (bwahahahah, evil laugh). We get deliveries 2-3 times/week that include the foam coolers. Should get my first stack tomorrow.
It never occurred to me just how much packing is done in shipping with Styrofoam, either as boxes or sheets. Then one day I talked to a local furniture store and now I have half a garage full of the stuff. We have shipping boxes from people who get their medical supplies in the mail who contact us every three months or so to ask if we need their shipping boxes and packing materials. The packing materials include gel coolers which make delightfully gross liquid for potion bottles and shredded cotton fabric for packing material that we're going to try and reuse as paper mache base.

Half the fun of what we do is finding stuff that doesn't cost a penny to buy. Our local hospital supplied us with all the pallets we can possibly use this year. The furniture store sets aside pieces they think will work for our projects. It's funny. Once you show them some pictures of what you make from what they give you, they are eager to help.
 

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I'm not sure if you have one but my local Rural King has tons of solid while Styrofoam blocks in their lot free for the taking. They are about 12"x12"x18".I built a couple pedestals from them. When I went there they had 50+. I know white foam isn't the best but I've found burning the grout lines with a solder iron and heat sealing gave a nice finish before dry locking.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
We don't have one of those. But I do have an endless supply of pallets.

My wife wants me to tone it down this year. We don't get a lot of ToTs anyway, and last year we had kids that wouldn't come up the driveway. Apparently it was TOO SCARY!
 
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