In October 2011 I decided to build a prop electric chair for a Halloween display at work. Of course I put it off to the last minute but luckily with the help of my girlfriend’s dad I was able to get it completed. Unfortunately, in my haste I didn’t take photos or properly document the build. I recently took a bunch of photos of the chair so I could get it online.
The chair is made mostly of 2″x6″ boards, 4″x4″ boards, and plywood. I think the construction is fairly obvious from looking at the photos. Almost all of the boards are just screwed together with wood screws. There are a few cases where L brackets or other mounting brackets were used because the design of the chair prevented me from easily using screws.
The arm of the chair has a sort of hand print burned into it with a propane torch for effect. I also cut and bent a piece of sheet metal into a clasp shape to form the shackle. The sheet metal from the shackle has three holes drilled into it so it could be bolted to a hinge. The hinge is then screwed to the side of the arm of the chair to allow the shackle to swing open or closed. It has a nice “clang” effect when it swings open and shut.
The torso straps were made from a belt I bought at Goodwill. I just cut it in half and screwed the two sides to the back of the chair.
The ankle straps were done the same way. I also used a jigsaw to cut out the circular ankle rests in this board. This is the one board that was attached using L brackets instead of being screwed directly to the frame.
On the left of that photo there is some electrical conduit that is visible. This was just screwed to the frame for looks. It doesn’t hook up to anything at all. Here is a close up photo to show how it is attached.
At the top of the back side of the chair are two mounting brackets. These hold the two angled pieces of 2″x6″ together since it would have been awkward to screw them together from the sides. The below photo also shows how another piece of electrical conduit is attached.
The head strap is just another small Goodwill belt threaded over a bolt that was bolted through the holes in the lamp reflector. The actual helmet piece was made from one of those clamp lamps you can get at the hardware store. I just removed the clamp piece.
The conduit is attached to the lamp using the three wires inside the conduit. I opened up the light bulb fixture of the lamp and removed some of the internal components since I didn’t need them anyway. I then pushed in the three wires from the conduit and bent them outwards to sort of grab onto the bulb fixture from the inside. It’s not perfect but it works.
The fun part of this prop is underneath the chair. I screwed a thick piece of sheet metal underneath the chair, and attached to that sheet metal is a palm sander. When the sander is turned on, the entire chair vibrates with an incredibly loud noise. It makes for a great effect when people come check out the prop and don’t expect it.
The palm sander had a plate that attached to it with five screws. I removed the plate and drilled holes into the sheet metal to correspond with the holes in the sander. Then I screwed the sheet metal to the sander instead of the plate. I only have three screws actually attached but it holds well enough.
Underneath the left arm piece I had an electrical timer/switch attached with some plumbing strap. The palm sander plugged into the timer and the timer plugged into the electrical outlet in the wall. This way I could just reach a finger underneath the arm rest and flick a switch to turn on the palm sander. It was very inconspicuous so no one ever saw it coming. Unfortunately I have since disconnected the timer but the strap is still attached to show where it used to be. You can see the actual timer in the first photo at the top of this post.
If I end up using this prop in the future I would like to add some more effects like sparks, smoke, flashing lights, etc.