Scary Papa's Haunted Forest

There is no greater joy in life than to scare the bejesus out of your grandkids

HOW TO MAKE SCARY PAPA'S  DARK BOX

 .

 

 

 

 

This is a prop that I have never seen on any website.  When I first thought of it I was sure there would be some very good "How-To's" on several websites about this prop. However, I have not yet found this prop or one like it on any haunt site.  It is very simple and inexpensive to make and for some unexplained reason it has consistently been the prop that everyone keeps coming back to in the haunted forest.

How It Works:

After setting the dark box up in your haunt the guests will come by and see the signs on the box  ( "I Wouldn't Look Inside If I Were You", " Scary Monster Inside", Don't Look In Here", or any other warnings you can thing of). Kids being the kids they are (and adults too) will not resist looking to see what is inside.  When they open the small door in the front of the box and place their face in the opening the stroble light is flashing and scary moaning sounds are heard and they see a skeleton dancing on a tombstone with their head on the skeleton's neck.  The strob light flashing inside the box lights everything up very nicely and causes the glow-in-the-dark skeleton to shine.  The steps at the front of the dark box are so small goblins can reach the door opening and look inside.

Materials List:

Many of the mateials on this list you may already have around the house.  I had everything except the wood and the paint.  The prices listed are provded in the event you have to purchase everything.

2 - 1/2' x 4' x 8' sheets of particle board - $9.37 each at Lowe's.  You could also use 1/4" particle board to reduce cost (and weight) at $6.24 per sheet or use any type of 4' x 8' wood panel material that you like.

1 - Cabinet pull - $2.95 at Lowe's

2 - 6" Strap or gate hinges - $2.58 each at Lowe's

2 - 2" Strap or gate hinges - $2.97 per set of 2 at Lowe's 

1 - Box of 1-1/4"  sheet rock screws - $6.47 per box at Lowe's

4-3" wood or deck screws

1 - Disposable paint roller and pan - $3.27 at WalMart

1 - Gallon of flat black latex paint - $5.00 at Big Lots

1 - Glow-in-the-dark plastic skeleton - $1.00 at Dollar Store

1- Foam tombstone - $1.00 at Dollar Store

1 - Adjustable black light strob light - $5.00 at WalMart 

1- 2" disposable paint brush - $2.00 at WalMart

1 - Rectangular door mirror ( 12" x 5' )- $12.00 at WalMart

5 - Pieces of 2' x 2' x 8' lumber - $1.47 each at Lowe's

1 - Bottle of wood glue

Tool List:

Power circle saw or better yet a table saw

Saber saw or roto tool saw 

Drill with regular wood bits and a screw driver bit

Long straight edge

Pair of saw horses

At least four screw clamps

At least two 3' bar clamps

Pencils

Measuring tape at least 8'

Cutting Schedule:

These are general measurements for cutting the wooden parts.  You can adjust the measurements to fit the size of box you want for your prop.  We will be making a 2' x 2'  x 6' box

Cut 2' off the top of each of the two pieces of particle board.  This will leave four pieces of particle board.  Two pieces measuring 2' by 4' and two pieces measuring 4' x 6' (See figure 1).

Cut the two pieces of 4' x 6' particle board in half lengthwise.  Now you will have four panels of particle board.  Two of the panel pieces will be 2' x 6'. If you cut along one side of the cut line rather than exactly down the middle you may find that the other two pieces might be slightly narrower at 1' 11-7/8".  This is because of the width of the kerf of the saw blade.   The slight difference in width is not significant since we are not making furniture but merely a prop box.  However, the slightly wider pieces will be identified as the front and back panels of the box and the narrower pieces will be identified as the right and left side panels of the box.

Cut one of the two 2' x 4' pieces of particle board in half.  This will provide two 2' x 2' pieces.  These will become the top and bottom of the box.  The remaining 2' x 4' piece of particle board can be set aside for use in another project. (See figure 2).

You should now have seven pieces of cut particle board (see figure 3). 

Cut four of the 2" x 2" x 8' lumber pieces to a length of 6'.  These will now be identified as wood strips.  Keep the four 2" x 2" x 2' scrap pieces to use inside the box for the frame later. Cut the remaining piece of 2" x 2" x 8' lumber into four 2' pieces and set them aside as they will be used later in the frame as well.  All eight of these 2' pieces will now be identified as "wood scraps" 

At this point it is easier to paint all sides of all the cut wooden pieces flat black with the paint roller than after the box is assembled.  So...do it now!  After the box is assembled use the small pain brush to touch up any unpainted areas.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3


Assembling the Side Panels:

For clarity from this point on the terms left, right, top, and bottom refer to your left, right, top, and bottom as you are looking at the work piece.

Lay one of the narrow side panels (1' 11-7/8" x 6') on the saw horses.

Lay one wood strip along the left edge of the this panel. Position the wood strip 1/2" in from the panel edge.  Draw a line along the panel to record its placement.  Remove the wood strip and spread a line of glue on one side of the wood strip.

Put the wood strip back in place on the side panel and clamp in place. 

Flip this piece over on the saw horses.

Drive screws through the particle board side panel and into the wood strip to secure it in place.  It is always a good idea to drill pilot holes in the work piece first just slightly smaller that the size of the shank of the screws. 

Flip the panel back over with the wood strip up and attach a wood strip to the right side of the panel in the same way.  Position the wood strip 1/2" in from the panel edge. Glue, clamp, and screw this wood strip in place.

Now measure the distance between the wood strips at the top and the bottom of the panel.  Using the 2" x 2" x 2' wood scraps cut two wood stips to these measurements.

Align the wood strips along the top and bottom edges of the panel and between the long wood strips and clamp, glue and screw them in place.

Set the assembled panel aside for now.  It is now identified as the left side panel.

Lay the remaining narrow side panel on the saw horses. 

Lay one wood strip along the left edge of the this panel. Position the wood strip 1/2" in from the panel edge.  Draw a line along the panel to record its placement.  Remove the wood strip and spread a line of glue on one side of the wood strip.

Put the wood strip back in place on the side panel and clamp in place. 

Flip this piece over on the saw horses.

Drive screws through the particle board panel and into the wood strip to secure it in place.  It is always a good idea to drill pilot holes in the work piece first just slightly smaller that the size of the shank of the screws. 

Flip the panel back over with the wood strip up and attach a wood strip to the right side of the panel in the same way.  Position the wood strip 1/2" in from the panel edge. Glue, clamp, and screw this wood strip in place.

Now measure the distance between the wood strips at the top and the bottom of the panel.  Using the 2" x 2" x 2' wood scraps cut two wood stips to these measurements.

Align the wood strips along the top and bottom edges of the panel and between the long wood strips and clamp, glue and screw them in place.

Set the assembled panel aside for now.  It is now identified as the right side panel (See figure 4). 

Figure 4

Assembling the Side Panels to the Back of the Box:

When assembling don't worry if the box panels do not match up perfectly.  As I said we are not making furniture.  IT IS ONLY A BOX FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

For ease of assembly the terms right, left, top, and bottom refer to your right, left, top, and bottom as you are looking at the the box from the front.

Lay one of the remaining 2' x 6' particle board panel pieces on the saw horses.  This will now be identified as the back panel.

Position the assembled left side panel to the left of the back panel. 

Spread a line of glue along the length of the wooden strip on the right side of the left panel. (Note - do not use glue on this step if you wish to disassemble the box for storage)

Position the back panel in the recess of the side panel and next to the wood strip on the side panel and clamp in place.

Drive screws through the back panel particle board and into the wood strip on the left side panel.  Use a sufficient number of screws to hold the side and back panels together when the clamps are removed.

Remove the clamps.

Position the assembled right side panel to the right of the back panel. 

Spread a line of glue along the length of the wooden strip on the left side of the right side panel. (Note - do not use glue on this step if you wish to disassemble the box for storage)

Position the back panel in the recess of the right side panel and next to the wood strip on the right side panel and clamp in place.

Drive screws through the back panel particle board and into the wood strip on the back panel.  Us a sufficient number of screws to hold the side and back panels together when the clamps are removed (see figure 5).

Remove the clamps.  

Figure 5

Now A Little More Structural Support:

We will be finishing making some framework inside the box. 

Measure the distance between the wood strips at the top and bottom of the back panel.

You should still have four 2" x 2" x 2' wood scraps set aside.  Cut wood strips to fit these measurements from the wood scraps and glue, clamp and screw them in place. (Note: do not use glue on the ends of these pieces if you wish to disassemble the box for storage.

Now using the measurements taken between the wood strip at the top and bottom of the back panel cut two wood strips to fit these measurements from the remaining 2" x 2"  x 2' wood scraps.

Screw these two pieces in place at the top and bottom front of the box by driving screws through the left and right side panels of the box and into the wood strips.  You will need 3' screws for this step. (Note: do not glue the ends of the wood strips top the wood strips on the side panels if you wish to disassemble the box for storage.)

Assembling the Top and Bottom:

Lay the box on it's back on the saw horses.

Take one of the 2' x 2' particle board peices and glue and screw it to the top.  (Note: Do not use gliue if you are going to disassemble the box for storage.

Do the same procedure with the bottom of the box.

Assembling the Font Panel:

 

Lay the assembled box on its back on the saw horses.

Place the remaining 2' x 6' paticle board panel on the box between the left and right side panels.  This is now identified as the front panel.  The front panel should by laying on the wood strips at the font of the left and right side panels. 

Adjust the front panel in the front opening and attach the two 6" strap or gate hinges near the top and botton of the of the left side of the front panel. 

DO NOT GLUE THE FRONT PANEL IN PLACE.

The front panel should open freely.  If it does not simply remove the front panel and trim the right, top and/or bottom edges until it does not bind. 

Using the saber saw or roto zip saw cut a small door opening approximately 9" x 7 1/2" in the the front panel.  Figure 6 showes the position of this small door in the front panel.  This door opening is positioned in appromimately the center of the top half of the front panel and just large enough for a person to put their face into.  Use care when starting the cut to avoid breaking the saw blade.

Keep the door cutout scrap as this will become the door to this opening.

Attach the small door to the front panel using the small strap or gate hinges on the left side of the small door and install the cabinet pull on the right side of the small door. 

Decorating the Box Interior:

Now for the fun part.

Attach the foam tombstone at the bottom of the front panel using glue.  Be sure to place it high enough that it will clear the wood stip at the bottom of the box when the front panel is closed.  Now attach the plastic, glow-in-the-dark skeleton on the inside of the front panel on top the tombstone as shown in the photo at the left.  You can use glue but I used small screws to hold it in place.

At the top interior of the box attach the small strobe light using small screws placed through holes in the strobe light bracket.  Aim the strobe light so it shines on the skeleton.  This particular strobe light also has scary sounds.  When you are ready you can turn on the strobe light by reaching through the small door opening.

On the interior back panel hang the 5' (or longer if you have one) mirror.

 When you are done put it in place in your haunt. When you place the dark box in your haunt you will want to put some other decorating materials inside such large rocks to weight it down so it will not fall over and crush those looking inside.  You can also use any other type of glow-in-the-dark decorations that you like inside the box.  Be sure to secure the front panel shut.  I simply screw it shut.  When I want to open it I just remove the screws.  But you can use whatever method you would like.

Conclusion:

That's it, very simple.  Just a rectangular box with some decorations and a strobe light inside.  You can make many variations to the design.  This year I might try animating the skeleton or making some other scary monster.  Just use your imagination.