How to Decorate Handmade Tombstones with Stencils

It all starts from somewhere.  An idea pops into your head, you think about it, you ponder awhile, then you try to turn your idea into reality.  That is why my Mommy did.  For years, they have been complaining about how their styrofoam tombstones keep falling down in the yard, breaking apart from the strong winds in the Fall and blowing down the street into a neighbors yard.  So, back in July, Mommy started on her trek to figure out how to create some tombstones for their yard that would not fall over and could withstand strong winds.  Daddy purchased a few sheets of pressed wood, and that got Mommy well on her way.

Staining a Tombstone

Next, was to figure out a few designs of tombstones that would look great.  So, Mommy sat down and started to draw out some designs on a little piece of paper, then she turned those little sketches into larger drawings onto pieces of thick cardboard.  She then cut the designs out with an exacto knife and traced them onto the pressed wood.  Now came the fun part – cutting them out!  She started out using a jigsaw that Daddy had and that worked great, until she almost burned up the motor on it from the massive amounts of abuse and use on this poor little hand saw.  She eventually had to purchase another jigsaw which she got at a steal at Sears Hardware that had more power.  This new jigsaw was the answer to all of her dreams as it cut through the pressed wood like it was butter!  Then, Mommy had to figure out how to make the tombstones stand up in the yard.  She cut small bases of wood for each tombstone, then drilled 4 holes in the bases.  Two of the holes were for the 7″ spikes to pound them into the ground (the tombstones would not blow away for sure now), and the other two holes were for the wood screws to attach the tombstone to the base. 

Mommy was off and running cutting out tombstone after tombstone, one design after another, until she realized that she has made over 15 wood tombstones!  Holy crap, she thought!  We’re going to have a yard filled with tombstones now!  Then, she had an idea to put some of the tombstones on eBay and their website to see if they would get any “bites”.  Well, they did in fact!  Daddy & Mommy sold 13 different tombstones in total and were happy that they could make someones Halloween special.  They sold the tombstones not painted so that you could decorate them yourself!  View them here!

After all of the tombstones were cut and sanded to perfection, we could now paint them.  Paint them?  Holy cow, what should we use?  We started off with gray primer and sealed the tombstones well, then used different Krylon spray paint on top of the primer.  Krylon offers some really neat spray paint that comes out actually looking like granite or hammered steel, and they even have one called Glowz that once sprayed onto a white tombstone it makes it glow in the dark. (as it charges up with daylight)

Now, with the tombstones painted comes the fun part – the stenciling!  Man, what do you put on a tombstone?  We thought this part would be easy, but trying to come up with what to write on our tombstones was more difficult that we thought.  Trying to come up with a good epitaph was not easy, not to mention that it had to “fit” on the tombstone too.  We are just glad that we started really early on this project as it has stretched out for months for us, but that is only because this was our first time trying to create our own Halloween props.  Next year, we will be ready with more ideas! 

 


Stenciling on your tombstones can be done in a few ways, as I am sure there are more ways to do this than what we used, but here are some of our ideas.  a) Purchase actual stencils (this is the quickest way to stencil) and trace onto tombstone – we used a stencil called “Girls are Weird” (We know, strange name for a stencil).  b) Printout your words in the font of your choice onto cardstock, then cut each letter out with an exacto knife (this takes a lot of time and patience, but once the letters are cut, the hard part is done), then just trace around your cardstock letters onto your tombstone.  c) Purchase already cut wood letters from a craft store (this is the easiest way to do it) and glue them onto the tombstone. Or, if you feel that you are creative and want to take on this task… d) Cut your own letters out of wood with your jigsaw.  (We cut RIP letters out of wood and this took a long time and was very tedious to do, but once they were done, they looked just as good as the store bought ones) 

So that’s it!  Creating Halloween props is fun, time consuming, and sometimes you can even learn a new swear word in the process, but the results are amazing!  What we have ended up with are Halloween tombstones that can withstand strong winds, will not fall down, will not break apart, and look awesome!   Just remember, it all starts with an idea, it’s up to you what to do with that idea!

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2 thoughts on “How to Decorate Handmade Tombstones with Stencils

  1. They’ll look great in your yard, I like them all lit up. You’re a madman with the power tools, LOL. I made ONE tombstone years ago for use in a house party. The deceased was named
    Pearl E Gates 😀 Mine was Styrofoam and it turned out pretty ok. But I gave all my Halloween decor to a school when we moved because I didn’t want to store it. They got box’s of rubber rats, black crows, a mummy and tombstones. I wish I’d kept a wee bit. Oh well, when we finally find a house, I’ll start over.

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