Halloween Idea

The pirate ship is not a new Halloween Idea but here is a new twist on how to build one, for cheap.


Age: Adult

Difficulty: Medium

Time Scale: 5+ out of 5


  • carpet tubes
  • lumber wrap
  • flat bed utility trailer
  • heavy duty Stapler/staples
  • Wood scraps 1x2, 2x4's, 2x2's and pieces of plywood
  • pallets
  • reciprocating saw
  • drill/bits
  • hammer
  • nails
  • Screws 1.5-3 inch
  • Scissors
  • packing tape
  • styrofoam scraps
  • contruction adhesive for stryofoam
  • brown paint
  • Cardboard
  • Cheesecloth
  • Rope
  • various pirate props

The Pirate Ship Halloween Idea

When I told my husband I had this Halloween idea, he wasn't overly receptive. I said I was going to build a pirate ship and he said "How are you going to do that?" He thought I was crazy. Well, maybe I am a little crazy but if I set my mind to something, I get it done. So I said "Fine, I will do it myself!" After it started to take shape there was a little more enthusiasm and I got some help. It was nice to have help, but I still could have done it myself!

This is one of those projects that could go on and on, depending on the time you want to spend on details. It all just starts with a little Halloween Idea and grows from there. Start early and you will see it grow to massive proportions! The instructions are going to be a little vague, because I didn't keep track of measurements, as I went along. Recalling all this information after the fact, is almost impossible.


The shape of the pirate ship was built out at the front and the sides of a utility trailer, with carpet tubes. Okay, so everyone doesn't have a spare utility trailer just lying around, BUT I'm sure with a little imagination you could adapt this. Instead, I'm sure a frame could be made out of pallets.


Lumber wrap was stapled to the carpet tubes. The back quarter of the trailer was built up higher with carpet tubes. They were cut to about 5 feet high and a frame was built. This was also covered with lumber wrap. A thin piece of plywood was put across the center to provide a small deck for a pirate skeleton to stand on.


The ship wheel was made of styrofoam and attached to a 1x2 which was then attached to the front carpet tube.

2x2's were cut to about 22 inches long and a 1 inch hole was drilled through, about 2 inches down from the top. These were spaced about 2 feet apart and screwed all the way around the outer edge of the top deck. Rope was strung through these holes.

A ladder up to the deck was made out of 2x4 scraps.

A small door was made with styrofoam scraps and glued on to the lumber wrap.

Two ship masts were made by wrapping carpet tubes with black lumber wrap. 1x4's were screwed on to the carpet tubes and covered with old white row cover cloth. (Another year, I used cheesecloth.)


The crowsnest was made from recycled styrofoam and glued to the top of one mast. The masts were attached to the ship by making stands out of 2x4's. Small pieces of plywood with a circle cut out, were nailed to the top of each stand. They were screwed down to the trailer deck.... It just made little holes. haha What a bonus, that didn't matter! The carpet tubes were then slid through the circular cut out and pushed all the way to deck level. Okay, lifting 12 foot masts up and then down into this gizmo was a little tricky. Screws were added through the 2x4 and into the carpet tubes. Every year, just before Halloween we get some major winds and nothing fell down! It not only withstood the wind but also rain and snow.


After making the pirate ship, no halloween idea is complete, without the  accessories. Lots of the props were handmade from recycled materials.

Pirate heads were made with pantyhose and fiberfill or paper mache. Bodies were made by stuffing clothes with newspaper. This is easy and fast. Oops, this pirate looks a little sea sick or something. He is sure hanging on! His head must be spinning.


Pallets were used for a dock. Dock posts were made from carpet tubes. Barnacles and starfish made from polymer clay were added. Netting and ropes were strung across the dock posts.

Blue tarps were put down on the ground for water.


This parrot was made from paper mache by our daughter, when she was a pirate one year. It is looking a little worse for wear after all these years and probably should have a bit of a tune up. Poor little critter. I still love how she made this with the bright colors and real feathers.


The cannon was a big hit with the kids. Cannons (A.K.A. tennis balls) were shot across the yard, at the enemy. This enemy was a smaller cardboard ship. It could also be aimed at the pirate piñata that was stashing a whole lotta loot. This was a much bigger challenge. The pirate didn't want to surrender or give up his treasure.


Even the Grand dog Kirby, dressed up. He looked so cute in his pirate costume.

An old trunk filled with treasure (junk jewelry) was put up on deck.

The ships anchor was made from styrofoam.


Add green spotlights and at night this takes on a spooky glow.

Details, details, details. Once you get a Halloween Idea, just run with it! I did and it was a whole lot of fun!

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