So you passed your armory or badge, or were admitted to a new order, and you have a new banner. How are you going to display it? Many people use a rod of some type for the banner to hang from and loop a cord from one end to the other, and this works well when you have an indoor site with hooks along the walls. However, what do you do when you are outside or in a hall with no way to hang the banner from the wall? Well, this article will tell you how you can make an easy and inexpensive banner stand that can travel with you and let you display your banners regardless of location.
This article is focused on the person in the SCA with minimal tools and shop know-how, utilizing easy to find parts from just about any hardware store. While this design is not the most elegant possibility for a banner stand, it is easy to make and easily transportable. You should be able to complete this project in about 1 hour. Completing the project will give you a banner stand that will stand about 8 feet tall, and support two banners about two feet wide or one banner up to 4 feet wide any of which can be up to about 8 feet tall.
The following lists the tools that are required for this project:
Spade (or Forsner) drill bit, 1"
Twist drill bit, up to about 1/4" size
While the following tools are not required, they can be useful. Some of these items are required for certain options:
Sand paper or wood file
A vice or clamps
The following items are required for this project. They can be found at most hardware stores, but you may have to look at a couple for a few of them. Costs have been rounded up to the nearest half dollar. Local prices and taxes will obviously change individual item prices.
Wood Rod, 1 3/8"x8'Banner Pole$11.00
Dowel, 1" x 48"Cross bar, to hang banners from$3.50
Galvanized Pipe, 1.5"x12"Banner Pole support/stand$7.50
Galvanized Flange, 1.5"Attaches base to support/stand$9.50
Screws, Flathead, #12-3/4"To attach Flange to base$1.00
The following items are optional for the project. Check out the "Optional Extras" section for more information on these items.
Carriage Bolt, ~2" to 2 1/2"To lock the cross pole in place$1.00
Paint or StainFor painting the base or staining the poleVaries
Decorative FinialTo cap the pole$4.00
Metal rod, ~1/8" dia. up to 12" longSplice for "break apart pole", or pennon finial$3.50
Weights/sandbagsTo weigh down the base when outdoorsVaries
Tent spike nailsTo stake down the base when outdoorsVaries
Assembling the Base
Figure 1: Centering the flange on the base.
The first task is to assemble the base of the banner stand. For this we will use the plywood square, the galvanized pipe, galvanized flange, and the screws. Lay the plywood on the ground and using the pencil and straight edge draw a line from one corner to its opposite. Repeat this with the other two corners, so that you have a big X dividing up your plywood base. Set your galvanized flange on the base, using the lines to center it, and mark the location of the flange holes on the plywood, as shown in Figure 1. If you have a drill bit that is smaller than the diameter of your #12 screws, drill pilot holes where you marked the flange holes in the base. Screw the flange down to the plywood. Complete the base by screwing the galvanized pipe into the flange of the base (see Figure 2). This pipe can be unscrewed for transport to make the base pack relatively flat.
Figure 2: The completed base.
The first that immediately comes to mind is painting the base. If you do this, paint it with the pipe in the flange, and once the paint is dry use a screwdriver or a knife to score the seam between the flange and the pipe. This will allow you to unscrew the pipe from the flange for transport. If you paint the pipe and flange separately, be sure to not get paint into the threads of the flange or on one end of the pipe, or you won't be able to connect them anymore.
Another easy thing to make the stand potentially better at handling outdoor weather is to drill holes through the base near the corners that are big enough for "spike" style tent stakes to go through. This will let you stake the base to the ground.
With a coping or jig saw, you could cut the corners off the base to make it a circle. If you are going to do this, wait until after you have drawn the centering lines on the base.
Assembling the Banner Pole
Figure 3: A spade bit.
Assembling the banner pole basically consists of drilling a hole through the pole near its top for the dowel cross bar. You will use a twist drill bit to provide a pilot hole for this, and then the spade or forsner bit to make the hole. The cheaper bit, and the one most people are likely to have is the spade bit (see Figure 3). Use a bit that is the same size as the dowel you will use for the cross bar. In this case, I used a 1" dowel, but a 3/4" dowel would work just as well.
Figure 4: Cross bar pilot hole.
The pole itself can be any pole up to 1 1/2" diameter. It is likely you will only find 1 3/8" diameter full round poles at most hardware stores. If you have a vice or clamps, clamp the banner pole down at a comfortable working height with the pole parallel to the ground. Using a straight edge and your eye, draw a line about 3-4" down the length of the pole from the end. Draw another line across the end of the pole connected to the first. Try to get this as centered as you can across the end of the pole (see Figure 4). Measure down the length of the pole about 1" plus half the diameter of your cross bar, and mark the spot. In this case, I measured 1 1/2" down from the top of the banner pole. Using the two lines and your eye to keep it centered on the pole, drill a small pilot hole through the banner pole. Try to get this to be as square to the pole as you can and through the center of the pole. This should be done with a bit up to about 1/4" in size. You want this wide enough so that tip of the spade bit can center on the hole, but not so large that the spade bit can move around when its tip is in the hole (see Figure 4).
Figure 5: The cross bar hole half way through.
Once you have the pilot hole drilled, you can now drill the full size cross bar hole using the spade or forsner bit. Once again try to keep the drill square to the banner pole. The bit will wobble and jitter as you start to cut into the banner pole because of the curve of the banner pole. Once you have gotten far enough into the pole so that there is a full hole being bored, it should be much smoother going. You want to stop this hole about half way through the banner pole (see Figure 5). Once that is done, you want to rotate the banner pole so the partially drilled cross bar hole is down, and use the spade bit to cut the other half of the hole from the opposite side. The reason you want to do this is that if you drill all the way through the banner pole with the spade bit, the bit will cause a lot of chip out on the other side of the pole due to the way the spade bit cuts and the curve of the banner pole. If you find that your finished cross bar hole is horribly un-square to the banner pole, or you had really bad chip out, or some other similar disaster, simply cut the end off of the banner pole, remark, and try again.
Figure 6: The completed banner stand with a finial.
Once the cross bar hole is drilled, try inserting your cross bar dowel through the banner pole. You should not have to force the cross bar through, but it won't just slide completely free either. If you find you can't get the cross bar through, this is most likely due to not having the two sides of the cross bar hole meet up in the middle at exactly the same angle. If this has happened you should be able to see or feel a ridge around the inside of the hole where the two holes met. Use some rough grit sandpaper or a wood file to smooth out the interior of the hole until the cross bar can pass all the way through the banner pole.
Put the cross bar through the cross bar hole until it is centered, and put the banner pole in the base, and you have a finished banner stand!
Banner Pole Options
If you find that the 8' pole is a bit larger than what you can readily use (keep in mind ceiling heights at your standard local sites) this can easily be adjusted by cutting off the pole end to get the length you want. This article was written based on an 8' pole, but you can usually get 10' poles too.
Another option for longer poles is to make the pole a breakdown pole, as described below. Keep in mind that as you make the pole longer, the base will become less effective at keeping the pole upright. You may want to increase the size of the base plate or adding some significant weight to the edges of the base plate. This could be done with sand bags, decorative steel, or you could even replace the plywood base with an old weight lifting weight.
If you already have banners with cross bars and cord, you can leave the banner pole cross bar off, and simply pull the cord through the hole and loop over the top of the banner pole. Advantages to this style are that you don't have to buy another dowel cross pole, and you can use your banners with the pole or hanging on wall hooks without having to adjust them. The disadvantages are that your banners are not as stable in the wind and will sometimes spin around the pole or slide to one side, and you can only display one banner per banner pole this way.
Paint, stain, or finish can do a lot to help make the pole look nicer, and it can help protect it from the elements. If you are going to use paint go lightly on the cross bar, and do some finish sanding once it is painted at least enough to ensure you can still fit it through the banner pole.
Locking cross bar:
A very simple and inexpensive option is to put a "lock" on the cross bar to keep it from sliding out or becoming off center when banners are on it. This can be done by putting the cross bar in the banner pole and centering it. I usually mark the cross bar and banner point where they meet on one side so I can easily center the cross bar in the future when assembling the banner pole.
Using the twist drill, drill into the center of the end of the banner pole and through the cross bar. This can be done freehand, but using a jig can get this much closer to center. Making an end hole drill jig requires a drill press and a forsner bit, doing it with a hand drill will not get you any better results than if you just drilled the end hole without a jig.
Figure 7: An end hole jig.
To make the jig, get some scrap 2x4, and use a forsner bit the same size as your banner pole to drill a hole about 1/2" - 3/4" into the wood. Replace the forsner bit with a small twist bit, and centering the bit in the forsner center point in the 2x4, drill through the rest of the 2x4 (see Figure 7). This gives you a depression you can place over the end of your banner pole, and a small pre-drilled hole in the 2x4 that you can use to guide your hand drill bit. Mark the sizes on the jig. It is always better to drill a smaller hole that is centered in the end of the banner pole and then use that as a pilot hole for a larger drill bit if you need a bigger hole later.
Whether by hand or with a jig make the final hole in the end of the banner pole as deep as you can; preferably all the way through the cross bar. If you are using a jig, you will need to drill the hole with the jig, remove the jig and then continue the hole to the correct depth. You can then get a carriage bolt of about the same length, and slid it into the hole. This can be pulled out when packing the banner pole, and keeps the cross bar in place.
A finial can be added to the top of the banner pole to give it a nice finish. Various types of finials can be found at craft stores or hobby stores. You can easily find spheres, pine cone shapes, and more decorative ones. These can be affixed by simply gluing on to the top of the pole.
If you want to have a locking cross bar (see above), you can use a lag screw instead of a carriage bolt. Most finials will have a predrilled hole in the base. Get a lag screw that is slightly larger than this hole, and long enough to go into the finial about half the finials length and still having about 2" sticking out of the bottom of the finial. After screwing the lag bolt into the finial, use a hacksaw to cut off the bolt head of the lag screw, then you can insert that end into the banner pole end hole to lock the cross bar into place while the finial sits on the top of the pole.
Instead of a finial (or if you are creative you can probably figure out how to do both) you can use a metal rod sticking out of the top of the banner pole for attaching a pennon. This would be installed in exactly the same manner as the locking cross bar option above, but instead of using a carriage bolt you can use a 12" long piece of round steel. This can usually be purchased as welding stock at most hardware stores. I would go with a 1/8" thick piece.
Drill your locking cross bar hole just big enough to fit in this bar. You want it tight enough so it won't slip out by accident while using it, but loose enough so that you can easily pull it out of the hole to unlock the cross bar when packing the banner stand. I usually do this by drilling the same size hole as the steel, and then "rolling around" the drill bit in the hole to make it slightly larger. Sew a pennon with a channel big enough for the rod, and simply put it over the end.
You can make the banner pole breakdown using the same methods mentioned under locking cross bar and pennons above. Cut the pole in half. Do your best to make the cut square to the length of the pole. Drill holes in the center of the banner pole ends that you just created. One of these should be the same size as the metal round stock you will be using to join the two pole pieces, and the other should be slightly larger. Do this by drilling both holes with a bit the same size as the round stock. On one of the holes, "roll around" or "wobble" the drill to have it make a slightly larger hold. Basically one side should grip the round stock very firmly, and the other needs to be loose enough to slide off it again.
Determine how deep you have made the holes, and cut a piece of round stock slightly shorter than twice the depth you drilled. Apply some wood glue to the smaller hole, and push the steel rod into it. Use a hammer to tap the rod down into the hole and seat it. Let the glue dry. Now you should be able to slide the two sections of pole together and pull them apart when packing your banner stand.