How to Make a Fake Guillotine

Updated March 23, 2017

The guillotine was originally designed as a quick and easy way to enforce the death penalty by way of instantaneously chopping off a convict's head. Today, it is thought of as a gruesome machine. Guillotines are made today for re-enactments in plays or at medieval fairs. Many people make a fake guillotine for Halloween decorations and haunted houses. To make a scarier scene they might add fake heads splattered with ketchup to mimic blood. The same basic directions will make life-size or model fake guillotines.

Decide what size you want the finished fake guillotine to be.

Cut the main four pieces for the base frame. The two sides should be equal in length. The top and bottom rails should be approximately one-third the size of the side posts.

Lay out the pieces to ensure fit. Attach pieces together using wood glue and nails. Put pieces on clamps to let dry.

Cut two pieces of plywood the same length as the top and bottom rails to create a neck holder. The depth should be about half the size of the length.

Use a circular saw to make the cut out for the neck holder. Sand as needed.

Attach the bottom blade securely to bottom rail.

Use a square to mark a 60-degree angle on four support pieces on the top and bottom. Attach support pieces on the front and back of each side rail. Attach with wood glue and nails. Clamp together to dry.

Create the tabletop by attaching several pieces of wood with nails or bolts. If a real person will be laying on it, you can lay a flat piece of smooth plywood on top or sand thoroughly.

Add legs to the table so it aligns with the bottom blade of the guillotine.

Make the blade with thin wood. Cut a ragged edge around it. Drill a small hole in the centre near the top for the string. Paint it silver to replicate a steel blade.

Drill a small hole in the centre near the top for the string. Drill a small hole in the side with the long side of the blade for the release pin.

Drill three small holes for the blade mechanism: on in the centre, right and left of the top rail.

Run rope or string through the holes to attach the mechanism to the blade. Leave rope hanging from the side to raise and lower blade.


To secure the guillotine, create a square base that the support pieces will fit snugly in.


Use caution and care when using power tools. Wear protective eyewear and gloves.

Things You'll Need

  • Guillotine
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About the Author

Cyndi Bass has been writing professionally since 2000. She specializes in writing about self-help, weight loss, health, credit, families, parenting and government assistance programs. Her experience includes ghostwriting for numerous websites, blogs and newsletters. She has worked in social services in the credit industry and she holds a human service certificate from the University of California at Davis.