How to Build a Medieval Doorway

Now that you have two prop cannons and a pirate skeleton, why not a Medieval Doorway to accent your home, provide a bit of mystery and leave your guests wondering, “what’s in that room?”

Like with any design, the concept starts with a sketch and a 3-D model to work out the details and get the proportions right.  Solving design problems at this stage will make the construction process much easier.

Choosing the right materials and creating a parts list from the model saves time and money.  Some of the techniques shown here are similar to theme park and movie set applications.  Stuart Craig, production designer on the Harry Potter films, refers to himself as “an architect in plywood”.  The sets are typically simple construction and finished in a heavy coat of faux paint and texture.  Sculptural elements are usually carved in foam and, if need be, coated in fiberglass.

Careful layout and planning is key to a successful finish.  Templates for all the varying shapes can be made directly from the Sketch-Up model.

Cutting and assembly of the pieces is the next step, making sure the opposite sides of the arch line up.

Automotive filler, or Bondo, is used to add three dimensional texture, grout lines and cracks.

The Bondo and primer  process is on-going throughout the construction. Other moldings and dimensional elements are then added and matched in texture.  A router table with a panel raising bit will shape the curved cove moldings, while a lathe is great for turning the corbels on the top and bottom of the columns.

Faux painting and a bit of carving is next.  Thin washes of varying tones and colors provide the look of stone, dirt and age.  Splattering, sponging and dry brushing are techniques that add to the look.                                                 

The easy part is the door.  Simple plank construction, stain and aging.

MDF is the perfect material for the hinges and provides a great surface for a carved, or forged, texture using a Dremel tool.

Finally, sculptural details are added and painted to look like iron.  This is the same technique used in “How to Make a Pirate Cannon”,.

And there it is.  From a pile of plywood and lumber to a finished sculptural piece ready for your next Harry Potter or Murder Mystery Party.

About PhillipFreer
Draws, paints and builds stuff. Designs Theme Parks, places and family destinations.

One Response to How to Build a Medieval Doorway

  1. Oooh… This looks like something great to try on Halloween when I want to scare the neighborhood kids… Mwahahaha!

    (And of course give generous candy to those who knock on the door anyways – to the brave go the spoils!)

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