Halloween Tombstones
Halloween Tombstones
Halloween Tombstones


HALLOWEEN TOMBSTONES - HOME MADE
WOODEN HALLOWEEN GRAVE MARKERS

In the old days, many people made grave markers from planks of wood instead of using stone tombstones. This was especially true for the poor and those of lesser means. Unlike a basic cross, these were marked with the deceased name and date of birth and death, other sometimes an epitaph. The lettering was usually carved or burned into the wood with some sort of tool or even a knife.

Making tombstones out of wood is a lot like making them from foam as described in our homemade tombstones article, except that wood boards are used. You may adjust the size of the boards to make smaller or larger markers.

Materials

Tools

03 - 1"x6"x36" boards
02 - 1"x2"x12" boards
12 - 1-1/2" nails
Water-based paint
Metal Spikes (optional)
Circular Saw
Hammer
Wood chisel
Paint brushes

Building the Grave Marker
The marker was cut long enough so that part of it could be buried in the ground to keep it in place. The above ground part of the marker should be around twice as tall as it is wide. First we need to secure the marker boards together. To do this, lay the three boards side-by-side with the side you want to inscribe facing down.

Run a couple of thick lines of wood glue or Liquid Nails on one side of one of the 1"x2"x12" "brace" boards, then lay it on top of the side-by-side boards about six to ten inches from what will be the top of the grave marker, depending on what shape you will be making the marker. Hammer two nails through the brace board and into each of the marker boards.

As before, run a couple of thick lines of wood glue or Liquid Nails on the second 1"x2"x12" "brace" board and lay it on top of the side-by-side boards about ten inches from what will be the bottom of the grave marker and hammer two nails through the brace board and into each of the marker boards.

By nailing the braces from the back, the nail heads won't show on the face of the grave marker. The marker is now assembled and ready for cutting. Remember, most of these markers were very basic in design, so we chose three simple, but different shapes, what we named the Classic, Cathedral and Arched.

Using a large drawing compass for the Classic design or a yard stick for the Cathedral or Arched designs, mark the cut lines on the marker with a pencil. Now, using a circular saw or jig saw, cut off the unwanted wood that you marked.

Inscribing the Grave Marker
Unless you are going to hand paint the words on the marker, lay the marker face up and hand draw or use  stencils to add the name and other information you want on the marker. Now you can use a a fine wood chisel to carve out the words.

If you are going to hand paint the epitaph with a fine brush, you will want to do this after you paint it, otherwise the paint will cover the words.

Painting the Grave Marker
You can now paint the marker with wood stain or paint. You can use a wood stain or make a gray-wash by watering down a small amount of gray water-based paint and brushing it over the marker.

In fact, it will look a lot like the background of this web page. Once the paint has dried, you will want to highlight the epitaph with a contrasting color of paint so that it can be seen easily.

Securing the Grave Markers
Method #1 - Dig a four to five inch wide trench by eight or ten inches deep trench where you want the marker to rest and set the bottom of the marker into the trench. At this point, decide if you want the marker straight up-and-down or slightly tilted to one side. Fill in the open part of the trench with dirt and stamp it down. See our article on positioning tombstones for more information.

Method #2 - If you will be displaying your tombstones on a grass lawn, you may want to build our alternate wooden grave markers. Since the above markers are particially buried in the ground to secure them, the boards used are appropiately longer. If you are not going to bury them, they only need to be around twenty-eight inches long.

Before attaching the bottom 1"x2"x12" brace board to the side-by-side boards, drill two 1/4" holes through them as shown in picture to the right. These will be used to slide the securing spikes through.

Now, mount the bottom brace board by running a couple of thick lines of wood glue or Liquid Nails on the second 1"x2"x12" "brace" board and lay it on top of the side-by-side boards about two inches from what will be the bottom of the grave marker and hammer two nails through the brace board and into each of the marker boards.

Now you can slide the spikes through the holes in the lower brace and gently hammer them into the lawn, securing them to the ground. The spikes, measuring ten inches long by 1/4" thick, are available at most hardware stores.

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