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Creating a Gate for Your Cemetery
By Mario E. Garit, Jr

Cemeteries create an uneasy feeling among most people, which is why they are so ubiquitous in Haunted Attractions. While the tombstones are the "body" of the cemetery, a well-made gate can greatly contribute to that sense of unease. The entrance to your graveyard serves to set the atmosphere while holding the audience captive, and prepares them for what is to come. Creating a cemetery gate can be a simple and fun project, if you follow these steps.


Materials

  • Four - 8' x 12" x 3Ú4" Pine boards (actual size 8' x 11 1Ú4" x 3Ú4")
  • Four - 8' x 10" x 3Ú4" Pine boards (actual size 8' x 9 1Ú4" x 3Ú4")
  • Four - 4' x 8' OSB/Plywood Sheets
  • Four - 2" x 4" x 8'
  • One - Sheet Lauan Plywood
  • One - Box 21Ú2" Finish Nails
  • One - Box 11Ú2" Finish Nails
  • One - Box 1" Finish Nails
  • One - Box 3" Drywall Screws
  • Two - Lanterns (your choice)
  • 1" Moulding (optional)
  • 2" Crown Moulding (optional)
  • 9' Extension cord
  • Sand Paper (several grades)
  • Wood Filler

 

Construction
Cut the female end off the extension cord, splice the shielding from the wires, and connect them to the lanterns using wire nuts and electrical tape. Test the lanterns to be sure that they are working. Cut about 12" off all of the boards to shorten them to 7'. This will now give you four 7' x 111Ú4" boards and four 7' x 91Ú4" boards. Determine the location where you would like to install the lanterns. They will be installed on the 111Ú4" boards. Measure exactly where the center of your lantern will be, and using a 2"- 3" hole saw, bore out a hole. Install the hardware for the lantern attachment. Screw the lantern into place, and check for a good fit. Next, remove them and set them aside for later.

The next step is to create the columns. For each column, you will use two 111Ú4" and two 91Ú4" boards. The boards of similar size will be opposing each other as you assemble them. Attach the four boards to each other using the 11Ú2" finish nails to create a 7' rectangular box. Repeat the process for the other column.

Check the construction for sturdiness and then countersink the finish nails about 1/8" using a nail set. Fill the holes and any cracks with wood filler and let them dry. When dry, sand and smooth all edges.

Sketch out a basic arch on your 4' x 8' OSB/Plywood sheets. The highest part should be no more than 481Ú2" and the lowest part no lower than 251Ú2" (Figure 3). This may take a while. Take your time during this part. Step back from the board occasionally so you can get an idea of what the arch will look like from a distance. When you are satisfied with the shape, cut out the arch using a jigsaw. Next, sand the edges and smooth out any rough spots. This piece will be your template to make the other three front and back "sides" needed to create the two arches. When you are finished with the first one, use it to trace out the pattern on the plywood to create three more exactly like it.

Using the 2X4's, cut 4 pieces to 481Ú2", 4 pieces to 251Ú2", and 2 pieces to 103Ú4" long. These will be the boards that attach the sides together to form the finished arches. Connect the 481Ú2" and the 251Ú2" to the arch sides and nail them down. Then take the 103Ú4" piece and tack it onto the part where the top and the arch meet. This will create the braces between the sides. Next, connect the other side to it. Attach the arches to the columns using the 3" drywall screws (you only need to screw the (2) 481Ú2" pieces to the columns themselves.


(Figures 1, 2 & 3)
From the plywood scraps, cut two rectangles 251Ú2" L x 103Ú4" W (these will make up the top/flat section of the sides). Also, cut two 171Ú2" L x 10 3Ú4" W pieces (these will be assembled to make the bottom vertical section of the sides). Next, cut two 141Ú4" X 121Ú4" pieces for the tops of the columns and nail all these down using the 21Ú2" finish nails. (Figure 2)

To complete the arch sides that give the columns their sinister look, measure the distance between both sides (from top of arch to lower end of arch). Measure and cut a piece to fit this from the Lauan. Place this on top of the side and check it for a good fit. Using 1" finish nails, tack the Lauan along the edges nailing them down onto the sides, curving it slowly as you go to fit the arch. (Figure 4)

Now you can install the lanterns and run the electrical harnesses through the bored-out holes. A small hole can also be made in the rear for the lantern leads to exit. To add detail to your columns, you can attach 2" crown molding and 1" molding along the edge using the 1" finish nails. (Figure 5)

Finish your gate by painting it. Try using a faux stone (Issue 29) or marble (see this Issue) finish. For added effect, you can also add some spider webs.

By adding an imposing gate at the entrance to your cemetery, you can increase the sense of foreboding that your guests will feel as they enter the realm of the dead.

 

Mario E. Garit, Jr. is the owner and operator of Haunted House Makers Unlimited®, a commercial/charitable haunt in Southern California. You can contact him at mgaritjr@hauntedhousemakers.com or check out his web site at http://www.hauntedhousemakers.com

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