How to make a western saloon prop

Updated February 21, 2017

Old west watering holes are a thing of Hollywood legend. Often the stage for famous brawls and shoot-outs involving characters like Doc Holloway and Wyatt Earp, western saloons are fun to recreate for parties or plays. If your school is putting on a western play, or if you are just looking for a unique and different party theme for a get-together with friends, you can transform an ordinary space into a western saloon with a few simple props and costumes.

Select a room or section of the stage to construct a western saloon. Measure the length of the wall or walls that you want to convert into bar space. Cut cardboard so that it measures 48 inches wide by 48-96 inches long. Assemble cardboard pieces by lining up the panels and taping them together with electrical tape on their non-facing sides.

Paint wood panels onto the cardboard pieces to create the illusion of an old, wooden saloon bar facade. Or you may purchase panelling roll paper that you can stick onto your cardboard if you do not want to paint the panelling yourself.

Construct supports for the saloon facade with 2 x 4 pieces of wood from your local hardware or home improvement store. Nail two 2 x 4 pieces of wood together in an L position by hammering two nails from the bottom of the horizontal 2 x 4 into the bottom of the vertical 2 x 4. Plan for supports to be attached to your cardboard at 4-foot increments. Nail or staple (with a staple gun) the cardboard to the supports.

Cut pieces of cardboard equal to the length of your cardboard saloon facade panels, which are 36 inches wide. Paint these cardboard pieces brown so that they resemble a bar counter. Fold the cardboard pieces in half lengthwise so that they form a 90-degree angle. Slide each over the cardboard saloon wall so that it forms a counter. Attach the counter to the bar wall by stapling the back of the counter to the back of the wall with a staple gun.

Position wooden bar stools in front of the bar and hang a sign made from wood or cardboard that reads "Saloon" from the ceiling over the bar, behind the counter area. If available, place a piano off to the right of the bar and a few wooden tables and chairs on the floor area in front of the bar.

Complete the western saloon prop with costumes. Ask guests or cast members to dress in western wear with bandannas, leather chaps and faded jeans and cowboy hats for men and fancy dresses for women (links to western costumes included in resources for ideas). Dress the bartender in a button down white shirt with black trousers and a black necktie.

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Small nails
  • Staple gun
  • Electrical tape
  • Brown acrylic paint
  • Cardboard
  • 20-40 2x4 wooden beams
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