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[This is a work in progress and I will update this thread as I work on this. I just wanted to start it while taking a break from working in the heat]

So, I was looking at the thread for the least expensive, most bang for your buck DIY projects on the forums, and I ran across this one by @SavageEye:

http://www.halloweenforum.com/halloween-props/115607-top-10-largest-least-expensive-props-decorations-8.html#post1272234

I lost my job in late May, and I've started to get into the Halloween spirit, so I was looking for a cheap project to use up some materials I already had with minimal purchasing of new material. I decided to use the above as a template for mine. I also thought, depending on the cost, I might try and weatherproof it some, and when it is stored (out behind my main shed), it could be used as storage itself (instead of having to completely break it down and store it).

So, I first found some pallets to start with. I made sure they were all roughly the same size to make things easier. I then went to home depot and hit the "culled wood" section (70% off) and got away with $30 of wood for ~$10. Some of it I will use for this project, and some of it not. I will likely have to go back and get more. They seem to put it out on Mondays, so I'll just run out there first thing every Monday morning :)

I started by cutting some 2x4s in half and using them to join 2 sets of 2 pallets together making sure the slats were on the same side. The first thing I noticed is that the 2x4s were too big to go into some of the pallets. So I got out the table saw and narrowed them down a bit. I then screwed each section to the 2x4s. This way, they slide in easily, and when I dismantle it, I can just separate the walls into 2 sections for moving it to storage. Here is a picture of one of the sections. When I saw the picture in the thread above, I thought that it would be too short. I didn't realize that the 2 would be over 8' tall! Not that I mind, and if I want it shorter, I can always trim some off each side.

IMG_20150808_204012-nopm-.jpg

The next day, I finished the other side and added some 2x4s to the top of each section to connect the roof to. I used 2 2x4s along the top, then I took 2 more 2x4s cut to the width I wanted the finished product to be, and I joined the 2 pieces together. I did the same at the bottom temporarily. I won't have them joined at the bottom when I'm done so I don't have a tripping hazard. For now though, I wanted it supported until I could add some additional bracing to the top to keep it all together. I don't have a picture of the top at this point and to be honest, it's too hot to run out there and take a picture of it...LOL.

After that I cut a 2x4 in half and started to play with the angle of the roof. @SavageEye above used 2 extra pallets, but I wanted it to be a bit more structurally sound and a bit more weather proof. I know, the walls are not weather proof, and there are only 2 walls to boot, but I have some ideas on that later! For now, I think the pallets offer a great (free) base that is already weathered.

After I got the angle I wanted, I cut 2 8' 2x4s at the correct angle (4 rafters) and cut 2 2x4s and a 2x6 to the lenth I want the roof to be. The 2x6 will be the ridge beam and the 2x4s will be the wall caps. I am only using 2 sets of rafters on each side since I don't plan on walking on it. I figure a 40" span isn't so bad and if need be, I can add another later. I am also wanting to watch the weight to some degree. I attached the 2x4 rafters to the ridge beam and figured out the angle to notch the rafters for the wall caps. Basically, I put the wall cap under the rafters on each side, centered the roof on them, then used a scrap 2x4 to trace the angle. I then took each one off and cut the notch in them. I'm sure there is an easier way, but it worked and kept me busy :). Here is a picture of the roof on the bottom half of the prop. I have it laying down since it is more stable that way for now.

IMG_20150810_191121-nopm-.jpg

So, now we are at today. For the roof, I "was" going to cut up some fence pickets I had for making a fence picket coffin. I made 1 last year and never got to making the second, and figured for now, 1 coffin was enough. After researching doing a cedar shingle style roof, I figured it would be too heavy and too cumbersome by time I was done. If I was working, I likely would have actually purchased cedar shingles and done it with those since they are lighter and thinner. Ultimately, what I decided to do was just lay the pickets horizontally and over lap them (like a dog house). It is working out great. I'm not 100% sure they will stay waterproof, but for now its looking pretty good. I don't have any underlayment under the roof, and I'm not sure I will ever put any. I'll see how well it holds up. It is still rainy season here (raining every day) so It will get a good test. I did run out of the stuff I had just lying around, so I will have to run to home depot and get about 5-7 more to finish it and add a ridge cap. here is a picture of the 1 side almost complete covered. I got about half way up the other side as well.

IMG_20150812_140732_nopm_.jpg


Coming next
Next I need to get more fence pickets for the roof. Once that is done, I will trim the roof to size with a circular saw. I figured it was going to be easier to do it that way then try and cut them all to length beforehand. I will also add fascia boards around it with some of the culled wood I bought.

For the main part, I plan to add some bracing to it to keep it fairly in square and to limit it's twisting in the wind. I am going to add as much bracing as I feel I need to keep it from falling over. I may even put posts in the ground to attach it to temporarily. Might be overkill, but I don't want to hurt any of my family of any TOTs due it falling over. I am contemplating actually putting on "siding" like is on the roof up the outsides. The reason for this is that I'm considering doing some stuff on the inside that I think will look cool. I feel like the pallets themselves look like plaster lathe. I figured i could use that to my advantage. You'll notice I have the walls backwards for this. I realized this AFTER I added the bracing to the top. It's not a huge deal to fix it, but i'm not gonna reverse it until I know for sure I'm gonna do it. Another idea I have is to put a picture hanging in there, with the eyes cut out and a phone behind it with one of those morph digital dudz videos playing. Just some ideas, not 100% sure what i"l do.

Future considerations

I'm not sure I will do the siding on the outside yet. cost is a main factor, and weight. I do want to use this to store stuff after I move it back to behind my shed, but I think that I could just buy a tarp and "wrap" it. I do plan on adding siding to the peaks of the roof, so that should keep most the water out and sun in combination with the tarp. I also like that I can likely just add a 3rd wall with siding (or a few more pallets stripped down) and put it somewhere else in my yard as a shed or out house. I have a feeling that it might have a different purpose each year.

Conclusion
I hope at least one person finds this useful. I am a programmer by trade, but I love to get out and build stuff. I don't care what it is. Some of this is overkill, but I like the challenge on figuring out how to do it (like making a proper roof, well, as proper as I needed it to be..LOL). I am open to any suggestions of any kind. I am also just open to any general conversation on the project. I am interviewing for jobs a few days a week, and have a 5wk old baby (and a 21 month old, and a 6y/o, and a 16y/o), so I am only getting to work on it when I can. I hope to have it finished and in place in the next week or 2.
 

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Made twice as tall, that would make a great tunnel of terror leading up to my house. Or also a good covered bridge for a headless horseman theme....

Nice job!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Made twice as tall, that would make a great tunnel of terror leading up to my house. Or also a good covered bridge for a headless horseman theme....

Nice job!
It will be at least 10 feet tall when done (the base is still on its side right now). However you could stack 3 or even make it wider/deeper. My use this year will be as an arbor type building going up to my house.

Thanks for the compliments. You've given me ideas for possible uses in years to come (covered bridge) ?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well I got the roof done today except trimming it. It's pretty heavy, so I took the roof slats back off until I stand the base up and have the roof framing up on the top. I screwed it instead of nailing it, so it's pretty easy to take apart and put back together.

IMG_20150813_113632748_HDR.jpg

I also got the walls turned around so that the sides with the most slats (the top of the pallets) faced inwards. I like how it looks like plaster wall lathing strips. My next step is to brace up the bottom part. I was gonna screw it, but I think bolts will be a better hold and allow me to make it really strong. I didn't get to start on that today because I have an interview at 2pm that I wanted to prepare for. It's really coming along though and i hope it will be done soon!! The neighbors already look like they are thinking "Oh, man...it's THAT time of year again"... LOL
 

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So, like most of my projects I do, I kept changing how I wanted it to look. I removed the ridge beam and replaced it with the other part of the 10' length I got. I then re-centered the slats on the roof. This way I could make an nice curved cut on the roof (making the peaks further out). So I made a rough template out of a box and used it on all four ends. I then took the jig saw to it and cut them out.

IMG_20150815_171433674.jpg

I wanted the fascia to match the curve, so I got some 1/2" x 4" picket fences for the fascia. I figured they would be thin enough to bend to my "will". I was wrong. I snapped two of them on the upper part. It seems I was about a 1" away from being where I needed to be

IMG_20150815_170834269.jpg

I thought about it and researched it and while steam was the preferred method for bending wood, it seemed that you could also use water and heat. It started raining so I removed it and sat it in the rain for a while (flipping it over during the rain). I then took it while it was wet and tried it again (carefully to prevent it snapping). It worked!

IMG_20150815_175955545_HDR.jpg

I left the clamp on and screwed it down in a few other spots (cutting 2x4s as spacers between the rafter and the fascia as needed). I think it's gonna look kinda cool once all 4 parts are done and I age it a bit.

IMG_20150815_180010073_HDR.jpg

After they are all dry, I will mark where to cut the ridge beam and remove it and cut it. I'm also thinking of using the jig saw to cut a pattern into the ends of the ridge beam as well as cut the fascias to length (I saved this part because I knew the curve would mean I would need to cut the wood longer).

Another bonus was a neighbor was coming home and asked what I've been working on.....I said it was for halloween and he said "That's cool! I love how you go all out for Halloween!" I'm not so sure his wife feels the same way (they live across the street and have NEVER brought their kids over for Halloween in the 9 years I've lived in this house). I'm glad to know that at least he appreciates it though :)
 

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My neighbors don't complain, they are all pretty laid-back. some of them have been laid-back for over 150 years!
Laid-back and under the dirt with heavy marble stones above them to make "sure".
I do realize it would only take a mere hand full of them to complain to REALLY cause everyone some big problems!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well, I got the fascia all done. This completes the roof besides aging it some with stain and maybe some watered down paint. I'm not overly happy with the ends of the ridge beam, but from a distance it looks ok, and at night and 10' in the air, and you'll likely not notice it at all!

IMG_20150816_152021025_HDR.jpg

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Another bonus today as well. A different neighbor came over to talk to me about "what I was building". His family had bets on what it was. They said it was either a dog house or a play house for the kids...LOL. I told him it was neither and it was for halloween and he was like "Ahhhh...ok" Glad to see they aren't too pissed. Up until this year I haven't had too many big features except boarding up my windows (which I do with real wood from when I redid my back porch).
 

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Love the wonky roof, and am enjoying your updates. Hope the interview went well.
The interview didn't go as well as I hoped. I thought it would be technical, and it wasn't. Thanks for nothing, Mr. Recruiter!! LOL. It is what it is though. I have a face to face interview in Tampa, but if I get the job it's a 2 hour one way commute. I'm not happy about that and it will severely cut into preparing for Halloween, but with a family of 6 and a huge reluctance to move to Tampa, I will do what I have to do!

Thanks for the compliments! I like the roof so much after Halloween I may actually make a dog house or play house out of it.
 

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The roof is definately too good to just use at Halloween. How about some kind of Garden shelter/Gazebo or do a proper playhouse with porthole windows etc and turn it into a witches hut for next year?
 

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I didn't get to work on the project yesterday or much today. My wife wanted some raised beds, so I've been finishing them up. The big mound of soil is now gone, but I may "steal" some of it for Halloween graves :D

Yesterday I did get some of the vinegar/steel wool aging stuff made. This is my first time using it. I saw it using white vinegar and apple cider vinegar, so I just did a mix. I'm not 100% sure if that affects the color or not (if someone knows, please tell me). I was hoping to add some rusted screws or nails, but I don't have any.

today I did some trials though on some scrap and this is what I have (from left to right: 2 coats, 1 coat, untreated):

IMG_20150818_133157683.jpg

I am leaning towards the 1 coat as it's not so brown. My wife and I both agree that the 2 coat one looks too much like it was stained and not aged.

Thoughts/Opinions?
 

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I started aging/staining it today. That vinegar/steel wool mix really darkens the wood! I didn't like it at first, but it started to rain and I think it started to make the finish a bit more uneven and it started to look really good (at least now while it's wet). I think overall it will still look great, but my wife and I were a bit disappointed since it just looked like dark stain. The 2x4s in the framing looked much better to me.

I did get a picture of the base standing up. I had to move it as I had to get one of the cars out because i go to Tampa tomorrow for a job interview. When moving it it was really "flimsy" feeling, so I stood it up to see how stable it would be. Its a lot taller than I thought it would be (without the roof even). It's actually pretty darn stable! I may use some thin black rope and stakes to stake the 4 corners down, but I'm not sure yet. I'm starting to wonder if the roof will look correctly proportioned on it, but either way, it is what it is.

IMG_20150819_164015627.jpg

My last complaint about the vinegar/steel wool stuff is that I didn't know it would stain ME!!! My palms are now darker than the rest of my hands. Oh well, I'm not too ecstatic about a job that would have a 2 hour commute one way. I'm more doing it for the experience of the interview and to scope the company out more.
 

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So, I got the main part stood up today and "leveled" (if you can call it that). I tried to put the roof on, but it seems that even without the singles I can't lift it up 8' on my own. I'm trying to recruit some help for tomorrow. In the mean time, I need to figure out how to secure the thing to the ground. A hurricane is coming in my general direction and I want to make sure if we do get hit that it will be pretty secure (actually, I will likely dismantle it instead). Any ideas on how to secure it to the ground? I thought about using rebar like this:

ab4599c9-1458-4bc8-9eaa-3f0999967b9b_400.jpg

and putting them in at an angle inwards and attaching them to the structure with some pipe brackets:

de40355e-5c65-40fb-86ec-63ce6e1d9382_400.jpg

Any thoughts on this? I'm trying to prevent digging holes and putting in 2x4s, but if I went that route at least I could level it better.

Here it is in it's current location:

IMG_20150821_133306245.jpg

I wanted to pull it further up, but the edging of the walkway I have there interfered. Where it is will kill some grass, but nothing a few plugs couldn't fix. I'm also starting to consider shortening it up some. I want to get the roof frame up so I can at least look at it and see how it all looks before I cut it a foot or two.
 

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I got the roof up there by myself.... somehow..LOL. I'm not sure I like the scale. I may cut it down a foot or so.

IMG_20150821_152134417_HDR.jpg
 

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I finished getting the roof on. It is definitely out of scale a bit, but I think it will do for this year. Next year I will cut a 1-1.5 feet off the bottom to lower it a bit. It was swaying a bit so I got some 4" x 4" angle brackets to help with that, but they don't help that much. I'm not overly scared it will fall over, but it will be shaky.

I attached the roof to the wall structure with 4 - 1/2" x 10" bolts (2 on each side).

IMG_20150822_155831040.jpg

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I'm also not very sure about the placement, but it's too heavy to move now..LOL. My next step, if I do it, is to put siding on. I will do it by attaching the siding (fence pickets) to 1x2s and making a "panel" that I can lay up next to the structure then screw it in from inside. This way, it will be easy to remove and store.

I also bought the rebar to attach it to the ground, and it worked ok, but I was at home depot today and saw ground anchors. something like this:

c074bbd4-8bd2-4a8f-bc2b-777a7c4573c2_400.jpg

I think that might be the best bet and will hold to the ground better.
 

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Thought I would do a quick update. My brother came over last saturday and helped me lay it down on some saw horses so I could cut off 13". I think perhaps I cut off too much, but the great thing about this is I can just get 2 more pallets next year and try a different height. I also installed the anchoring kit at the end of my last post. I'm much less scared it's going to "fly away" now. The hurricane that almost hit had me worried. The last thing I've done is I've added the LightShow attic light in it and I am playing with some moss pulled from a near by tree. After that I will get out the web shooter and shoot up inside it to see how that goes (I will be using this to test out that new toy that I bought last year but never got to use.

Here are some pictures of what it looks like now:

IMG_20150905_181536076.jpg

IMG_20150905_181522547.jpg
 

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I like the lower height. The moss looks great up there...put some more on. Fantastic job!
 

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I like the lower height. The moss looks great up there...put some more on. Fantastic job!
Thanks! I like the lower height as well from a distance, but walking under it took some getting used to. As to the moss, I do plan on putting on more, I just have to get out the bigger ladder from out back. The step stool just isn't doing it...LOL
 

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Ok, so I did a bit more to it. I added the lanterns (which I will probably take down every night and put out every evening so they don't get destroyed by rain and wind). I put up an old "enter if you dare" thing that used to be a stake, but that broke off a few years ago. It had a hanger on it from in the store, so I just used that and a screw to hold it up. I also added more moss. I added it all the way back on the roof to the other side. I don't know if it's too much or not, so if anyone thinks I should add or take away, please speak up. I don't mind. One bad thing about it being covered up so much is you lose the detail in the roof, but perhaps that's not a bad thing after all.

The last thing I did was in the inside. I added some creepy cloth between the pallet slats to obscure seeing through them too much. I also decided to hang those pictures that change as you walk by. Unfortunately, they are plaster so adding wall hangers ended up being a challenge. However, I found that using plate hangers worked really well! A bit expensive, but not so bad. I only got 2 to try. I need to adjust their heights, but pulling the nail out is a bit harder from the pallet wood than it would be from drywall.

Here are some pictures:

From a distance you can see that the moss covers the whole peak (well, you can barely see that). I used small brad nails across the front to give them something to hang on. The last batch almost all blew off since it had nothing holding it on. Hopefully the nails solve that. For the peak, I just split it and am hoping gravity will hold it.
IMG_20150909_131946704_HDR.jpg

This is up close on the front. You can see the moss, the lanterns and the "Enter if you Dare" sign.
IMG_20150909_131952365.jpg

Here it is walking up to it. you can start to see the pictures hanging. yes, I know, they aren't level. I will fix that as soon as I can pull the nail that holds the picture hanger out...LOL
IMG_20150909_113716898.jpg

This is a front on of the pictures. You can see the creepy cloth. It doesn't look so spectacular there, but I'm hoping at night, it looks better. It's not nailed on or anything, so it would be easy to remove. I also only did 1 side for now. As for the pictures. I have collected enough to put quite a few on each side of the "arbor" (Not sure what to call it).
IMG_20150909_113721628.jpg
 
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