Mock Jail for family photo ops

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Project by DaleMaley posted 05-09-2017 11:56 AM 439 views 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Our small town, Fairbury, Illinois, pop. 3,800…....still has a couple of jail cells in our 1892 old City Hall. Although it would make a great photo op for citizens and visitors to take their pictures, it needs a lot of renovation work…....and it is so small that it is hard to get a picture in such a small room. One of our local town improvement group members, saw where another town made a wood mock jail as a photo op for families.

Our Old City Hall has an outside corner, where we can add a wood wall decorated as a photo op. I designed a mock jail using Google Sketchup.

I wanted this mock jail to last for many years. We have not decided whether we should leave it out all summer, or use it just on certain special event days. The 2×4 frame is cedar. I used cedar dog-eared pickets from Menards for the front side sheeting. On the visible front portion of the jail, I gave it two coats of Zinsser’s white primer, then 2 coats of light yellow, which matches the old city hall color. The jail bars are 1 inch oak dowel rods from Rockler, painted black. The trim around the jail window is pressure-treated deck boards boards planed down from 1” to 3/4” thickness, and painted grey.

I printed out the text on paper, then used old-fashioned carbon paper to trace the letters onto the wood. I used a small artist’s brush to hand letter all the text in black enamel.

I designed the mock jail so it can be installed or removed in 10 minutes or less. Each side has two 2.5” inch deck screws that go through the 2×4 frame into 1/4” plastic anchors in the brick.

I framed up the mock jail on-site at the old city hall because I knew the walls were not going to be straight in an 1892 building. Then I took it to my garage to do the finish wood work, painting, and lettering.

Our goal was to provide a fun photo opportunity for families to have fun on special events days….......and we definitely met our goal on the 1st day of use :)

To see my trials & tribulations of building this mock jail, you can see my woodworking web site here.


-- Dale, Illinois,

2 comments so far

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

4804 posts in 2984 days

#1 posted 05-09-2017 01:01 PM

What a wonderful project! Love this idea!
You couldn’t ask for a better place to do this. Looks great and nice tutorial on you web page!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View DaleMaley's profile


333 posts in 1866 days

#2 posted 05-09-2017 01:14 PM

What a wonderful project! Love this idea!
You couldn t ask for a better place to do this. Looks great and nice tutorial on you web page!

- woodshaver (Tony)


-- Dale, Illinois,

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