Halloween Forum banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,056 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
In 2010 we added a dungeon cellar window using some of the ideas seen here in this section. The frame is 3/4 inch plywood and the "stones" are 1/2 inch foam glued to the plywood, textured with a blow torch, covered with monster mud, and painted with 5 different colors of gray. The skull in the keystone has red LED eyes.
2010_005.jpg

Unfortunately, the day before Halloween last year, I dropped 2/4 that fell against the foam keystone and ruined it.

IMG_2107.jpg

Upgrades are always better than repairs, so I decided to try to make the frame more interesting while making it less likely to suffer the same fate from a similar accident. The purpose of this tutorial is to show how to add some action to an otherwise static prop / fixture ... and do it mostly with stuff you have laying around. The finished improvement features a keystone skull with red LED eyes that slowly turn right and left and looks looks like this:

IMG_2149.jpg

Here are the tools you need. I realized later that I hadn't included the hack saw used to cut the aluminum tubing you will see later.
IMG_2147.jpg

The materials a small skull, an aluminum tube and an all thread rod. The tube and all thread came from Home Depot (you will also need 8-10 nuts and lockwashers that fit the altread) and the skull was from a bag of skulls bought a few years ago - a brother of the one used last year for the now-broken keystone. Some scrap plywood and a piece of gavanized steel sheet metal was also used. Note that the skull is a blow mold , very light skull and not a Styrofoam skull - to make project easier and sturdier. You will also need 6 to six large washers that will slip over the end of the aluminum rod, but not be too tight or too loose.

A little Locktight for the nuts that go onto your allthread will make your life easier too - good insurance.

IMG_2108.jpg
IMG_2112.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,056 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Several of the steps for this tutorial are unique to this application > the arch window frame. However, I'll include them hoping it will help someone follow my rambling instructions.

The size and the depth of the new keystone was determined by the need to do a better job of protecting the skull and the clearance needed for the skull turn from side to side. Try to make the height of the keystone about 1" higher than the height of the skull you are using. This will keep the skull from touching the washers that will be used to hold the tube in place, but allow it to pivot to the sides. Cut the pieces of wood that will form the keystone (sides, top bottom and back), but do not glue them together yet.

Drill holes at the top and at the bottom of the of the skull for the Aluminum rod. I started with a hole smaller than the rod and enlarged it with a file to assure a tight fit, although this is not required. AFTER the rod is fitted to the skull, cut the back 10 to 15% off of the skull. Remember that the skull will be moving side to side so don't cut too much off the back.

IMG_2114.jpg

IMG_2116.jpg

What the tube through the skull is a little crooked !!!??? Hey, it's Halloween, not brain surgery. That's why it's fun, not work. :) NO ONE will notice ... until my son points out to them that Dad screwed up. :eek:

Arrange the plywood you cut for the keystone, by laying it on the workbench and using some tape to put it together shaped as you will eventually glue it together. When you get it perfect, measure the distance between the inside of the top and the inside of the bottom. Hopefully this is close to the earlier measurement of the skull plus 1" (plus or minus 1/4"). If your enclosure (mine is the keystone) is not within this 1/4" tolerance, trim the sides or cut new sides and re-fit until you obtain that targeted tolerance.


Subtract 1/8 " from your final vertical inside the enclosure measurement. Use this measurement to mark and cut your aluminum tube.



Decide how deep you want your skull within the enclosure. I wanted mine in the middle, so I used a rule to draw lines from diagonal corners to locate the center. My keystone measurements required only two washers on top and bottom. The pic below shows the sides glued and the washers being epoxied. Later the placement of the sides will be reinforced.

IMG_2118.jpg

More tomorrow --- it's getting late. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,056 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for posting you guys. I wasn't sure if this would really help anyone, but if there is interest, I'll go into more details of the build next.

Monster Mud is a mixture of latex paint and dry wall Joint compound. For larger projects, other members have started with a 5 gal bucket of the stuff to make their Mud. That's definitely the cheapest cost per gal. But that's a LOT of Mud. I mixed up some Fixitall with latex paint until I got the consistency I needed. I've also seen folks add some clean sand to it to get at rough texture, and even dip cloth in it and build the shape that way, but that was not what I needed on this project. I use it more like a coating, so I also add some wood glue to the mixture.

Remember that Monster Mud will last outside MUCH longer if you seal it. Drylok works great, but is rather expensive. I used some Rustoleum latex canned crystal clear to seal the finished project. HOWEVER, this stuff is gloss. I didn't want gloss, so after it was very dry, I sprayed it with a can of Rustoleum Matte Clear to get back to the dull rock look again.

Wow, I skipped right to the end with this post. I'll fill in the middle in a little while.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,056 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Skull section

Ok, time to do some more work on your skull ... er ... your prop skull. Leave you noggin alone please. I think we left with the aluminum tube fitted to the holes in the skull and we have the correct measurement for the length of the tube. Remove the tube and cut it to the proper length that will allow it to stay in the expoxied washers at the top and bottom, but still pivoting freely.

Before you put the tube back in the skull, it's time to add some attention getting LED eyes. I have a bit of an inventory of these. I get them on ebay pre-wired with resistors for 12 volts. You can spend as little or as much as you like. Today I see two 5mm wired, red LEDs for $1.41. I also see 50 5mm wired 12v for $8.11 ...that's $.16 each. I add them to a lot of props so I always buy in quantity. They also sell them in quantities of 10 and 20. Go to ebay and search "12v wired LED red" and have fun. BTW, other colors are cool too. If you think the LEDs are too bright, you can glue a piece of black silky rayon material over the eye socket and this does a nice job of lighting the eye sockets while eliminating the intensity of the LEDs. You can "adjust" the light coming out by poking holes in the material.

Drill a hole slightly smaller than the 5mm LED in the center of each of the skull's eye sockets. Push the LED in from the back of the skull thru the holes. Put a gob of silicon glue on the back side of the LED to hold it in place. The glue takes some time to set up but it's worth not having to worry about taking it all apart because an LED slipped back into the skull.

Now place your new shortened Aluminum tube into the skull holes. Place a straight edge perpendicular to the tube at a point that is roughly centered. Make a mark on the tube and on the outside of each side of the skull. Your goal here is to be able to place the all thread through the side of the skull, through a hole you will drill in the Aluminum tube and out the other side of the skull. I did this by drilling the hole in the tubing first, then one side of the skull, then placing the all thread thru both to the inside of the skull on the side without the hole. If you are lucky, or very good :), the hole needed is in roughly the "same" position on the far side as the hole you already drilled in the skull.

If you're like me, it might take a second hole in the skull to get the alignment right, but don't fret, that hole will get covered later. After you have your holes aligned cut the all thread about 1/4" wider than the width of the skull from hole to hole (side to side). Below shows how to feed the allthread thru the holes while screwing the nuts onto the allthread.

IMG_2120.jpg

Now grab the sheet of galvanized steel and the tinsnips / cutters. Time to create the attachment to the all thread. Cut a piece of the galvanized sheet about 1" wide and 7 inches long. drill a hole at one end to allow the allthread to go thru it. The pic below shows the result before I drilled the hole at the trimmed end.

TIP 1 see below

IMG_2117.jpg

IMG_2121.jpg
IMG_2122.jpg
IMG_2124.jpg

Pictures ... 1000 words and all that.

At this point you scratch your head and say, "WAIT A MINUTE! He said "Simple" " Yeah, well the operation and concept is simple, but maybe I used the wrong word in the thread title :eek:

TIP 1 Because I wanted to minimize the "bleed of the light" from the skull eyes into my haunt, I decided to turn the metal strip 90 degrees to keep the slot thru which this piece passes, smaller. This is easier done prior to mounting the strip on the skull Grip the strip. But if I included this in the above instructions, the description would not match the pics. So I mention it here.

Place your pliers so that the side farthest from the hole in the the galvanized strip is about an inch from the hole. Place another set of pliers about an inch from your other pliers. Now twist the strip until the surfaces outside of the pliers are perpendicular (90 degrees). The direction you twist does not matter.

This step might not be required for your application. I needed to strengthen this piece of metal. This is done easiest by placing the long part of this piece in a vice with about a quarter inch sticking up, out of the vice. Then use a hammer to bend the part sticking up in a way that it will be pointing up. See the piece below, but don't notice the keystone yet. :) That's coming in the next section.


Mount the galvanized strip onto the all thread about half way between the tube and the side of the skull. Apply Locktight to the allthread near the nuts and tight them against the lockwashers as you see in the picture. Now the skull is ready to be mounted in the enclosure / keystone.

IMG_2132.jpg

Sorry the tape is obstructing the view of the twist. The following shows the strengthened long side of the twisted piece. If this is too confusing let me know and I'll cut a new piece and bend it to show the finished part.

IMG_2137.jpg


In some of these pics, you see more work on the Keystone. I'll cover that work in the next section, but it will probably not apply to any project that you might decide to apply this tutorial. Please let me know if any (all?) of this is unclear.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,056 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
More on the enclosure build - keystone

Hopefully, your enclosure is cut to fit, your skull is ready to be mounted in the enclosure, and the epoxy on the washers is dry. Put it all together with wood glue and clamps and it should look something like this when the glue dries:

IMG_2128.jpg

Notice that it looks a little flimsy. A back alone would help, but this back will require a slit from side to side to allow the mechanism to work. Lets cut some scrap 3/4" plywood to fit snugly between the top and bottom against each side. These reinforcements should reach no farther than a third of the distant towards the front of the enclosure. Make certain that these pieces do not interfere with the movement of the skull. Now the keystone should look like this:

IMG_2121.jpg

IMG_2133.jpg

I decided to also have some back lighting behind the skull, so I added a sheet of plastic cut to allow full movement to the skull. Here the plastic is installed on the left side only:

IMG_2134.jpg

Both sides:
IMG_2136.jpg

The back looks like this:

IMG_2130.jpg

Now add the lower back reinforcement.

IMG_2132.jpg

The upper back reinforcement must have a hole in it to allow the skull wires to pass through. If you like, you can pass the backlight wires through here also. I didn't, but it would have been more efficient if I had.

IMG_2137.jpg

IMG_2138.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,056 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Motivation

Even an empty headed, red eyed, wired, brainless dude who leaves the garage only briefly once a year, needs motivation. We are using a rotisserie bought for our last BBQ that has been creating a small iron pocket at the local dump site for about two years. The rotisserie motor was never used. Rotisserie motors have lots of torque, but are usually a little loud in their operation. My application has the motor placed on the inside of our haunt ... our loud haunt, so no issues with the noise for us.

Here's the motor. It had a flush female fitting with a square slot. I had a larger allthread sitting around, so I used the grinder to square up about 3/4" on one end, then bent about a foot length of it in to the shape you see below. the allthread is epoxied into the motor.

IMG_2129.jpg

Mount the motor on a scrap piece of plywood and mount that to the back of the enclosure. Connect the rotating large allthread to the lever coming out the back of the keystone with another strip of the galvanized steel. How long? Some of this is trial and error but start by measuring the horizontal range needed to make the skull move the desired range in the enclosure. Then measure the range of the reach of the large all thread. Try to make the large all thread range equal to the range of the skull lever. Mine turned out like this:

IMG_2139.jpg

When finished, mount the almost finished Keystone at the top of the window frame. No details for you here because I think we are already challenging your ability to stay awake. However, do note that the keystone is mounted at about its midpoint onto the frame. This assures enough room for the motor to be on the backside of our castle rock Scenesetter wall.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,056 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Time to play with the mud

As previously mentioned, I made my Monster Mud from a mixture of black latex paint, white latex paint, Fixitall powder, and Titebond wood glue. Mix until it tastes like gray pudding ... oops, LOOKS like gray pudding. Taste at your own risk. Use a putty knife to apply it ... thick on the wood, thin on the plastic. The following pic also shows the motor now painted flat black.

IMG_2140.jpg

IMG_2141.jpg

IMG_2142.jpg

IMG_2143.jpg

IMG_2144.jpg

After the monster mud dried, I used several shades of gray and black acrylic paints to get the look I wanted on the skull, the keystone, and I revisited the frame in a few places that had been gouged.

After that paint dried, I coated the entire frame / keystone / skull with several coats of the Rustoleum clear gloss latex paint. When enough was enough, I sprayed every surface with the Rustoelum Matte Clear enamel.

Done - simple :D

IMG_2149.jpg

IMG_2150.jpg
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top