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Discussion Starter #1
If you've ever taken a look at Terra's ChromaDepth 3D Wall Panel tutorials, you'd see that they are built from furring strips that are covered with landscape fabric and then painted with fluorescent color. Simple and very effective.


I was thinking of using a similar framework to build repositional inter-connecting walls. These would be covered with light luan, providing more rigidity for haunt walls and able to use one another for stability and be freestanding.

Haunt-Walls2.jpg

I'm betting that the walls would be sturdy enough for traffic, but making them connectable is the issue. Perhaps something like what's used for furniture kits, where a metal pin goes into a catch that is tightened with a screwdriver.

Hardware Connector.jpg

Has anyone ever tried something like this or know of hardware that could be used for such a project?
 

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Scariest guy on the block
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Could you use door hinges to join them together? Just remove the pins to take them apart. I would probably grind down the diameter of the pins a little so they would come apart a little easier.
 

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To allow my columns to fold flat for storage, I glued a couple inch wide cloth strip top to bottom to connect pieces together.
The cloth serves as a cheap hinge, and would allow your panels pairs to be folded either direction. I was going to post the link to the tutorial for you, but the forum's search function still sucks.

Update: After posting that I recalled someone said not to bother with forum's search, just use google to find things in the forum.
So here is a picture of cloth hinges. http://www.halloweenforum.com/tutorials-step-step/97484-cheap-easy-arched-gateway.html
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the reply Terror Tom. Door hinges with a ground down pin is an interesting idea.

BobbyA: I really like the columns, but I'm thinking that the cloth hinges idea would better better suited for cardboard like your prop, but not wood frames and plywood.
 

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Thank you.
Might be useful to point out the columns are made from a material more like Luan or fiberboard, than cardboard.
Cloth hinges for heavier material such as 2" x 2" framed plywood could be made from thicker material.
However I wasn't aware you were using panels like that, I think there are better solutions than cloth for regular weight panels.
 

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I am making haunt walls similar to yours- haven't started to build them yet, but I, too wanted to find a reuseable connector to make storage easier. I'll be making my walls with luaun or hardboard (or cheap paneling, if I can find it). The "Chicago screws" idea- (a confirmat screw with a broad head on the nut and matching broad head on the bolt) is a good one but at my local hardware is pricey. This leaves me with regular bolts and nuts, which I have a fair amount of on hand. There are hinges called non-mortise hinges that you could affix to your frames, however if the panels are not perfectly square, this might let some light (a sliver) pass thru from behind- unless taped over. I'll be interested to see what you decide to use- My walls will be held up with cross bracing above, which will be doing double duty as a place to hang things from above in the haunt.
 

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Just my $0.02, but I would not try to use any type of "Chicago" or furniture type screw. They are designed to be used in a situation where the pieces fit in only one way, and basically square. It would take a tremendous amount of time to get them fitted / drilled properly. You would have to meticulously plan your maze, or assemble it as you drilled the holes and fitted them. Also, what happens next year when you want to change they layout??

What I have done for my haunt is build 2x2 frames on thin plywood. I used 3/8" ply. the first year. The second, I used 7/16". The thicker plywood is definitely sturdier, but it is noticeably heavier to handle. Anyway, simply use 3" wood screws through the 2x2's to join the panels. I have found three per joint, low - mid - high, is very strong.

I used Tarras 1x2" panels with landscape fabric for the roof. Lay them across the top and screw them on through the top 2x2 of the wall panels. One note, I learned that a single layer of fabric is not enough to control the ambient light. If you want it dark inside, use two layers of fabric.


Overall I have found this to be the cheapest, easiest way to quickly build a haunt. This year I will be adding large rooms, up to 15' wide by as long as I wish by using 2x4's as joists. The roof panels are so light that a 16' 2x4 will easily support them. The 2x2 framed plywood panels are more than strong enough to support them.


Another side note: placing landscape fabric on the end walls of a dead end hall completely absorbs the light. I had several people walk into the end of the wall. Giggle giggle....
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the reply fingers. I agree that the furniture type screws could prove to be a huge PITA. My thinking was that a jig would need to be constructed in conjunction with a drill press to insure accurate fittings. Your points are well taken.

Screwing the panels into one another is fine as long as they are one-sided (so you are screwing frame-to-frame from the backside). But what do you do when they are double-sided and guests will be walking around them? Tying them into each other from the top isn't a problem with a bracket, but connecting the bottoms will be problematic if you don't want the connecting plates to show.

R397501-01.jpg

Ideally, I would want to texture the walls to make them look like stone — so I'm being a bit nit-picky about appearance.

BTW: I really like the idea of stretching the landscape fabric from above as a makeshift ceiling.
 

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My walls are basic black or gray, and the haunt is still in its infant stage, so I dont mind a screw head showing right now.

A few things to consider:
1. You, I believe, said you were concerned about light showing through the panel seams. If its going to be that dark, minor inperfections like screw heads will not be noticed.
2. On those double sided panels, keep some of the paint you used for the walls. After you assemble the haunt, a dab of paint on the screw heads will hide them nicely. Not too much paint, or you will not be able to unscrew them as the screw slots will be full.
3. If you use roof panels, they will add a lot of strength to the structure.
4. Using only two screws in the joints, one very high, one very low, will place them out of eyesight. You could probably use orange colored screws and no one would see them.
5. Detail is great, but most people will not notice. As the builders, we take a lot of pride in our work and want it to be the best we can make it. The kids coming through the haunt will most likely never notice a "mistake" . They are too busy being scared, laughing, teasing their friends, whatever.

One more note on the roof panels. Again, they are Terras wall panels, I made them 4'×8' & 8'×8'. The tight fabric supports extension cords very well. This way I can run power throughout the haunt and not have a single cord on the ground for anyone to trip on.

The great thing about the reusable panels is the ability to grow the haunt each year without having to start over. The raw materias are already there. You can add textuer to the walls one year, a mural the next.

The bad thing is storage. I currently have about 80 panels. Thats two stacks of panels, over 6' high each. Takes up a lot of space. I wouldn't change a thing though.
 

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I'm in the process of building an 8x8 flatpack structure for use as a portable microhaunt. I'm building a 2x4 foundation in 4x8 foot sections which will be connected by a couple 2x4s spanning the short ends. The foundation will be sheeted with subflooring plywood, the topped off with 5/4 inch x 4 inch deck boards. The deck boards will be laid out to provide voids where the bottom plate for each wall section will fit.

Because my project needs to travel well, the wall sections are built from 2x4 studs, same as a house. My hinging system consists of pipe strapping, 6 inch long 1/2 inch PVC sections, PVC caps and 13" long segments of 7/16 inch metal rod or wooden dowel. The pipe strapping is used to secure a section of PVC to the wall panel near the top and bottom. There is a companion PVC section on the next wall panel, mounted below to the left or above to the right. The lower of the two PVC sections is capped. The wall sections are aligned in the voids in the flooring and a section of rod or dowel is dropped down through the PVC, leaving the top inch exposed for removal when breaking down the structure.

On the outside, the walls are 8 feet high, but the top plate is only 7 feet high. The top plate uses a second, sectioned 2x4 spaced to allow the 1x6 joists for the ceiling to be slipped in place. The ceiling is also made of 4x8 panels, consisting of joists, a few stiffening blocks, and old pallet boards to make it look like the underside of a second floor of the building. I don't use anything to pin the ceiling structure in place.

I'm still working on the roof design.
 

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I have a somewhat related question: Exactly how sturdy does the actual wall material need to be? I'm trying to design a haunt that will take up my entire back yard, complete with mazes and the works, after being inspired by videos I found here. (for next year, actually - this year I'm just doing the front yard deco.) My roommate insists that he can build the whole thing out of sheetrock, but after pricing sheetrock, I've decided maybe I'd better let the pros handle the $5000 haunt builds.

I found this "hardboard panel board" at Home Depot for really cheap - at least $14 for a 32 square foot section seems cheap to me - and thought that I could cut each piece down into four 8 ft. tall panels. But is it too flimsy? I plan to make a roof, probably screwed in with brackets to the side panels, so that will lend some stability, as I understand it, but I'm completely lost as to how thick the walls need to be.

My main concern is that people going through the haunt will fall/back into the walls and they wont be sturdy enough to hold the weight. Is this a problem anyone has encountered? What do you all suggest for a minimum thickness/sturdiness of walls?

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Thrifty-White-32-sq-ft-Hardboard-Panel-Board-709106/202090193#BVRRWidgetID
 

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cheap and easy
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I have a somewhat related question: Exactly how sturdy does the actual wall material need to be? I'm trying to design a haunt that will take up my entire back yard, complete with mazes and the works, after being inspired by videos I found here. (for next year, actually - this year I'm just doing the front yard deco.) My roommate insists that he can build the whole thing out of sheetrock, but after pricing sheetrock, I've decided maybe I'd better let the pros handle the $5000 haunt builds.

I found this "hardboard panel board" at Home Depot for really cheap - at least $14 for a 32 square foot section seems cheap to me - and thought that I could cut each piece down into four 8 ft. tall panels. But is it too flimsy? I plan to make a roof, probably screwed in with brackets to the side panels, so that will lend some stability, as I understand it, but I'm completely lost as to how thick the walls need to be.

My main concern is that people going through the haunt will fall/back into the walls and they wont be sturdy enough to hold the weight. Is this a problem anyone has encountered? What do you all suggest for a minimum thickness/sturdiness of walls?

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Thrifty-White-32-sq-ft-Hardboard-Panel-Board-709106/202090193#BVRRWidgetID

Over the years I've used just about everything especially if it's cheap or free ...I built over 3,000 sq ft on the front, side and back of my home...then took it down after Halloween.

I got this hard board at HD I think it was $7 or $8 dollars a sheet and to cut down on cost anytime I was near HD I stopped in to check their reject lumber. I built most of my haunt on rejects...$.50 to $1.00 for 2x4s some 12 footers



Here's few of the reject 12 ft 2x4s and some early build pictures



[





some free fiberglass roof that someone was throwing away




pick up any wood you see even if it looks weathered ...it can be used as bracing . Baby bed rails and sides can be used as walls or bracing
If you are going big and don't have a few thousand to spend on building. Use what you can find or rejects

overview of the scraps I used for bracing it doesn't look pretty but I saved a thousand or so just by picking up other peoples throw a ways

 

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Thanks for the reply Terror Tom. Door hinges with a ground down pin is an interesting idea.

BobbyA: I really like the columns, but I'm thinking that the cloth hinges idea would better better suited for cardboard like your prop, but not wood frames and plywood.
In the theater world those are called Slip Pin Hinges. They are standard hinge plates but the pin has a small bend in the top (think the shape of an allen key that you get with furniture) to make it easier to place and remove. I use them all the time for items that have to go up and be taken down regularly. You can also use them for straights as well as corners.
 

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As far as MDF board or drywall goes, my suggestion is to stay away from it. Besides being very heavy for its size, it turns to garbage if it gets wet. For portable outdoor walls, those would be my last choices. I know I'm a broken record, but a simple 2x2 frame screwed to 3/8" plywood works great. They are easy to move, screw together easily, are strong enough no kid is going to break them, and are sturdy enough to climb on top of if needed. A coat of paint makes them weather proof, its easy to hang props, electrical cords, lights, ect. Your cost per panel is under $20. Find it on sale, so much the better.
 

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A couple of things pro haunters do: use a 2x3 instead of a 2x4. It's only slightly cheaper but is lighter and that's important when you're moving a bunch of these around. Another tip is to lay the 2x3s flat when you screw the covering material to it, rather than on end like you see in regular home construction. This makes the panels much thinner so they don't take up as much room when storing them.

I never liked 2x2s because it's almost impossible to find enough straight ones in a stack, and if you do they are still more likely to warp and twist after you buy them.
 

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Yeah I agree with using 2x3 or 2x4 over any other size. It's more readily available and more likely to be straight with no knots.
Though figure out your method of attachment before building. If you plan to use screws or bolts and nuts to attach panels together than I would attach the supports on their short side (standard stud framing) that way you have room to drill holes, slide bolts through, and you can make stronger connections.
Though if you are using plates then by all means attach the supports flat. They will stack shorter and take up much less space!
 

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I agree with it being harder to find straight 2x2's, but since home haunts are usually a one person build, at least in my house, I have been grateful for the weight savings. The first panels I built were with 3/8 plywood. The second year I used 7/16. I cant tell you how much easier it is to move around the lighter panels. With roughly 80 of them to move, set up, take down and store again, I know any new panels will be built with 3/8 plywood.

As far as warping after they are assembled, I wouldn't be too concerned with that. They will be attached to a solid surface and presumably painted. Besides, this is a haunted house. It's supposed to be a little warped, right??
 
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