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Props for Newbies: What do I need?

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First if this is in the wrong section, please move it.

I keep seeing this pop-up every now and then and thought I would throw in my two cents.
Maybe we can get a good list and then make a sticky.

The question is: What kind of tools do I need? What kind of material?


Bucket of ice and water (when using Torch)

Box Cutter and lots of Blades
Hack Saw
Pliers (assorted from blunt nosed to needle nosed)
Screw Drivers
Lots of Glue
I use a lot of wood glue. Some use Gorilla Glue. It really depends on your application.
Assorted rolls of painters tape
Electrical tape
Duct tape. Lots of this
Butane Torch
Heat gun
Serated knives
Foam cutters (get them at arts and crafts stores like Michaels)
Glue gun. Might want 2 or 3.
Box of latex gloves. (they do have non-latex gloves for those of you who are allergic to latex.)
Leather work gloves. Trust me and get them.

That pretty much completes my tools list

If you're lucky enough to live where there is pink/blue foam you will want to stock up year round on assorted thicknesses. Why stock up? This is an addiction. Once you start your mind never quits.

If you live in areas like SoCal like I do, you are limited to the white bead foam. While it works, it is messy. If can afford it you can always order pink/blue online. And if you are in CA then that might me an option to avoid the huge sales tax.

Glue LOTS and LOTS of glue.
Glue sticks for the glue gun not to mention making hands.
I use Wood Glue and Liquid Nails. Others use Gorilla Glue.
Bottom line, use the glue best suited for the job. Wood glue is cheaper by the gallon.

You will want various sizes and types of tape.
Painters tape also known as masking tape. I use the blue kind.
Electrical tape
Duct Tape - Oh so many uses

You will find that wire will serve a lot of purposes, so when you need wire, get a roll of what ever guage you think you will need for a given job. The reason being if you need it ones, you will need it again later

Chicken wire
Get a roll of this. You will use this a lot in different projects

PVC pipes
This is the building blick to most props.

This is a cement sealant. This part one of Monster Mud

Joint Compound
This is usually used on drywalls. This is part two of Monster Mud

You will be going through lots of paint.
Black FLAT
White FLAT
Skin tone

Great Stuff expanding foam.
If you can afford it later you may want to invest in 2 part foam. This will work faster, but it is expensive.

You will probably be doing some things from wood, so plan out your build and purchase the wood as needed.

Now this may seem like a lot. What I have done and I am sure others, I purchased what I needed as the project called for it.
You may have some of this already.

The next part is easy. Look around. You will be surprised at how much junk is out there that people are throwing away. Every week in my city we have a "Big Trash" pick-up. This is a weekly dump pickup of big items people throw out that cannot fit in the trash cans.
I drive around every week the night before to see what is being thrown out. If I can think of something for the item(s) I grab it.

Go to the recycle center. Many cities and towns have these. Most of them will allow you to look around and see what there is and take it.

Yard Sales. This is the next step above free. Many treasures can be found.
Craigslist. You got it. The internets yard sale.

So, this was my basic list of things. Once you start you will be looking all year long at what is out there and thinking of the next big project. For me, I look at Halloween as the first Christmas of the year since I put in the same amount of effort into Christmas.

Start slow. Don't go after the huge projects until you have had some smaller projects under your belt. The worst part is going after a huge project and getting frustrated because things are just not coming out the way you want.

Sit down with a pencil and paper and draw out your plan. Make a list of items you will need.

Another thing to keep in mind is time. Make sure you allow for enough time to do a project. Nothing is worse than sitting there on OCT 30th or the morning of the 31st and your project isn't finished. Heck I have already started. My neighbors are used to seeing me in my driveway in February working on a Halloween project. They know I love this stuff.

Watch the video's and read the tutorials provided here. Ask questions. There is plenty of experience here and more than likely someone if not many have run into your problem and have an answer for you.

ABOVE ALL HAVE FUN! This is all about having fun. And... scaring the crap outta the lil' darlin's not to mention the big ones too.
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123 Posts
--PVC pipe cutter--*critical* if you use PVC pipe for anything imo
--A set of those mini-screwdrivers to get the darn battery covers off of purchased props; they're practically welded on
--Zip ties--various lengths
--Plastic sheeting
--Extension cords--post-Xmas sales are best
--Power strips--ditto
--Consider blacklights/bulbs/holders
--Power drill
--A good plan of exactly where you're going to plug everything in, so your circuits can take it....

and most importantly:
An assistant :)

33 Posts
i used to be a duct tape fan. i set up my haunt in a gym. many of my dividers are made from hanging black plastic sheeting from a grid work of bailing wire. when using duct tape the sheeting would fall off from time to time. i graduated to gorilla tape. holy crow! even when you compare it to good duct tape it blows their doors off. it's stickier, the material is stronger and it's even black. it's more expensive but you truly get what you pay for with this stuff. it tears fine but prepare to give your fingers a work out.
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