Cemetery Gates

 

Since storage and protecting our props are both big issues for us, we decided to make a totally collapsible cemetery fence for our front yard. We've got 75 feet to cover so we decided on nine, eight foot sections (72 ft = close enough!). We're using the normal 1/2 inch pvc poles placed through holes drilled in furring strips. As the 1/2 inch pvc comes in ten foot lengths, we just cut them in half. I wanted a tall fence if we're going to go to all the trouble. Its a simple and economical design. Hopefully it will be sturdy as well. All the poles and furring strips will come apart, so we plan to store them in those round cardboard cement footing tubes  that we're using for our mausoleum pillars...

 

 

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We decided to use ten white (half inch) pvc tubes for each eight foot (furring strip) section. This allowed about ten inches in between. (here you see the pvc still in it's 10 ft length. They all will be cut in half to make the five foot bars for the fence)

 

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Here are the eight foot furring strips. Most of the ones we found were pretty straight. We just marked one, drilled the 1 inch holes where we wanted them and used that one as a template for marking all the others. 

 

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I sanded the holes for two reasons. First, if the holes are clean, you're less likely to damage the paint on your pvc bars when assembling/disassembling the fence. And second, it looks more like wrought iron if there isn't little wood chips breaking away from all the holes.

 

 

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Here we just set it up on the deck to visually check the placement of the furring strips. There is nothing holding the fence together except our deck railings. We decided the lower furring strip looked like a good height (about ten inches off the ground) so we'll use that measurement for both the top and bottom.

 

 

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First we roughed up the surface of the pvc with Scotch brite to clean it and give it tooth for painting. Then we just used our "painting rack", nailed in some nails on the corners so the pipes wouldn't fall off, pushed them up close together, and painted them. As we were on a slight hill, we just took out the lowest one and let the rest roll down, exposing the next part to be painted. As you can see, I did a lousy job of cutting these, but they're going to be on uneven ground anyway, so I'm not worried about it.

 

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Here is a picture of the furring strips and 1 1/2 inch pvc end posts after drilling them. We used a 1 inch hole saw for the ends of the furring strips and a 13/16 flat wood bit (paddle bit) for the end posts. Made a nice snug fit.

 

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Just another picture of the process. We actually drilled them at ten inches, not eight...
 

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I tried to get a photo of the two holes in each end of the end posts. We drilled one, and then pushed the bit through the hole to drill the one on the other side. They weren't lined up perfectly, but a drill press would solve that problem. Still, doing it by hand drill worked fine.
 

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Here's just a picture of the furring strip "tab" inserted into the end post. We didn't sand the ends, so it fits pretty snuggly adding to the strength of the fence.
 

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Here are two pictures of a section put together. Nothing is glued and can be disassembled entirely. We pounded sections of rebar into the ground and put the two end posts over them. Next, we pushed the furring strips into the holes in the end posts. Finally we just dropped the vertical painted 1/2 inch pvc into the holes in the furring strips. Note: our ground is very uneven in this picture, so the tops of the posts are different heights. We're thinking of dabbing a spot of hot glue on the back's of the 1/2 inch pvc's right by the top hole to keep them all level. After Halloween, we'd just chip off the little glue bit and disassemble the fence. Might not be worth the effort though. It all depends on how picky you are! (I'm pretty picky!) I think having uneven pvc is okay considering the benefits of storage of a collapsible fence.  

Also, the rebar used in this picture was pretty short, that's why this fence section is leaning. We're going to use four foot sections of 3/8 rebar for each end post. Two feet pounded into the ground, and two feet up into the end posts. (FYI...it's much cheaper to buy the rebar in 20ft lengths. Provided you have a grinder or large bolt cutter to cut them to 4ft lengths)

 

 

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Just a close-up of how nicely the vertical pvc fits into the furring strip. The 1 inch hole saw worked great for the 1/2 inch pvc. Note: I finally figured out when painting the furring strips, that it was best to dab at the wood around the holes with very little paint on your brush, then go back and paint the rest. To prevent dripping, you could just use spray paint instead. If I were to do it again, that's what I'd do. I think it would be just as durable.

 

 

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Finished fence. Not perfect, but fine for a Halloween prop!
 

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Another picture of it finished. Should look pretty good with the rest of the setup. The neighbors thought it was going to be permanent. I think they were happy it wasn't!

 

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Here is just a photo of some of the pipes being stored in our mausoleum tubes. We ended up with 82 small 1/2 inch pvc's, ten of the 1 1/2 inch end posts, and 18 (8 foot) furring strips to store. As it collapses, and stores it takes a much smaller "footprint" of storage space and can be put into an unused corner of a garage or shed easily...
Our plans for the future are to continue the fence up the sides of the driveway and make a gate to match closer to the door and have it swing open on it's own when a lost soul steps on a weight activated mat...

 

 

Supply list for one 8 foot section of Collapsible Cemetery Fence:

 

1)     2    8 foot furring strips (the straightest you can find)

2)     5   10 foot 1/2 inch pvc tubes. (to be cut in half)

3)     1   10 foot black 1 1/2 inch pvc tube (to be cut in half)

4)     Cheap black spray paint

5)     Scotch brite squares (for cleaning pvc prior to painting)

6)     Regular 60 grit sandpaper

7)     13/16 flat wood bit for the holes in the 1 1/2 inch

         end posts. 

8)     1 inch hole saw for the middle holes and the ends of the furring strips

9)     Coping saw (for cutting away extra wood on the ends of

         the furring strips after using the hole saw)

10)   2 four foot sections of 3/8 diameter rebar

 

 

Note: we first tried to drill the holes in the furring strips for the half inch pvc with a 13/16 drill bit. No good. It was too small and we had a really tough time getting the pvc to slide into them. Then we tried 15/16 inch holes. Still too snug. We ended re-drilling every hole with a 1 inch hole saw and now they work fantastic. The pvc slides in easily. Just don't toss them around as they'll break if you do. The 1 inch holes make the furring strips more fragile. But apart from throwing them around, they're plenty strong to use for many years to come...I just wanted to save you the headache of figuring that out for yourself!

 

Another option for a cemetery fence very similar to ours, but non-collapsible, is at HalloweenHost.com We are also in the process of putting in our skull whistles as finials. I like how small they are and the fact that you don't see they're skulls until you are right on top of them...Just an added little surprise. That's what haunts are all about right?

 

Cemetery Gates