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Can't Screw Into The Stage

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by JJO, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. JJO

    JJO New Member

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    Hi all,

    I have been building sets for years, but I've always been able to screw into the stages, and for once in my life, I cannot screw into the stage. This has thrown me off my game, and now all of a sudden I am all concerned about safety and things toppling. Please tell me I am just paranoid. The very rough set design (thanks ms paint!) is below.
    full frontal aol set.jpg

    I am doing a two-story Arsenic and Old Lace set. Do I just do weighted triangular braces for the flats? What about the platforms? If they're braced well enough and cut nicely, there should be no wobble, right? I've got a larger-sized Teddy that will be running up and down stairs. I am trying to make myself assume that the set's weight will keep it from wobbling, but still the worry sneaks in.

    Thoughts?
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Stage jacks and sandbags. Think about it: how strong really is that #8 screw into 3/4" T&G flooring? You could also use double-thickness plates of 3/4" ~24"x24" plywood, loaded with stage weight, and screw into that.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011
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  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team

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    Okay you are just being paranoid, but that doesn't mean the set won't fall over and kill everyone.:twisted:

    Yes, use jacks with lots of counterweight on the back. I've used concrete deck blocks with the slot cut in them for portable shows in the past. Imagine the counterweight possibilities of the picture below flipped upside down.
    [​IMG]
    They are dirt cheap and weigh a about 40-50 lbs. Just build the bottom horizontal section of the brace out of 2x4 and trim it to perfectly fit the block slot. Flip the block upside down and place it on the brace.

    Think of your stairs as the anchor of your set and build off of it. If you are worried about things sliding a round a little rubber underneath provides padding and a non-skid surface. Go to the local tire store and see if they have any old inner-tubes in their garbage can you can cut up for this purpose. Remember, the stairs are the anchor to your set. Everything get's screwed together back to the stairs to become one solid piece. If you have issues with sway and wobbles in the walls look for ways to brace above with aircraft cable.

    P.S. Your use of Paint is admirable but get to know Google Sketchup. It's extremely powerful, Easy to learn, and best of all free! Give yourself an afternoon to sit down with the training modules and you'll be an expert in no time.
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  4. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Not sure where you are located. I am about an hour north of Detroit. I have literally tons of counter weight bricks that I don't need. I you need them to help anchor and are willing to come and get them, you can have them. PM me if you are interested.

    ~Dave
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  5. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Note that the notches for arbor tie rods allow the bricks to fit perfectly around the 1x stock of the stage jack.

    jack weight.jpg

    I've also seen shop-made stage jacks welded out of 1" sq. tube with pipes placed the same distance as arbor rods to accept stage weights. Clever idea.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011
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  6. FatherMurphy

    FatherMurphy Active Member

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    You can pull a page out of theater history, and add some jogs to the walls. The corners act as booked flats, and the two sides of each corner helps stabilize the others.

    You can also build a lower shelf under the stairway landing, and load that with counterweight, making the stair unit less likely to walk.
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  7. thatactorguy

    thatactorguy Member

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    Your design is quite similar to the set I designed/built a few years ago.

    [​IMG]

    Use the floor plating and weighting that others have suggested, but also make sure that the platforms are very well cross braced and tied into each other. If you use wall jacks, I would build them out of two by instead of the more standard one by. If you can build the platforms so half of it is upstage behind the set (in other words, the long part runs US-DS), it will serve as an escape, but you can also use them for additional counterweight...
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  8. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Is it just me, or do both of you have the set "backwards"? I thought the window box went stage right, but maybe that's just the iconic movie.
  9. thatactorguy

    thatactorguy Member

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    I've never seen the movie. I just based my design on what was in the back of the script :)
  10. JJO

    JJO New Member

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    Wow, you are not kidding. I didn't even show you my paint design for this puppy, which is very similar. (again, roughtly done on MS Paint, but know that I have downloaded and am learning Google Sketchup as we speak). It's a dustier mauve than what is below, but I call it "Pink Nightmare"...;)

    arsenicflatdesign.jpg

    I am also thinking 2x instead of 1x, as my Teddy is pretty heavy. I could notch the 2x, though, to fit the pig weights on there nicely. If not, laying them flat is just as effective, right?

    As for the stairs, they're all supported by platforms that will be tied and braced like crazy.

    One last question, how can I ensure the top flats, which will be screwed into the backside of the platforms, will not wobble? How can I brace those effectively?
  11. JJO

    JJO New Member

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    Thank you, I may do that. I've got to take stock of what we have. Last time I was in the theater, we had plenty, but things have degenerated since then. I'll let you know! :)
  12. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Run a 1x4 on edge in back of the flats at the top to lock them together, or add a cove molding detail to cut down on wobble along the horizontal plane. Box brace to the escape stairs and use additional flats behind the set to stiffen in the vertical plane.
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  13. kicknargel

    kicknargel Active Member Premium Member

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    One more little trick on platforms: once you have them in place, if there's a leg or two that doesn't hit the ground (because of abnormalities in the floor and never from the set carpentry, right? Yeah, that's it.) spread wood glue on two cedar shims (wedge-shaped), and push them in point side first from opposite directions until they snug up--you're creating a shim at the perfect thickness. Snap off the excess.
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  14. stormtroopers4

    stormtroopers4 New Member

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    Create your own floor you can screw into
  15. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member

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    Almost every theatre I have worked in doesn't allow screwing into the floor. I would build the platforms as units, legged and cross braced. Then build your steps, leg and cross brace them, then attach it to the platforms. Then I would build the wall tall enough to go floor to the second floor and attach them to the platforms and steps. This will cause some bracing as others have described. Te upcenter section will have an escape platform and steps to carry the center. The SL section that has the hall and window, brace as described, the only exception is the hall area. I would top brace the onstage wall to the masking wall so the rear wall carries both walls. You can add bottom flat bar (aka sill iron), like door flats have, to stiffen the bottom. These can be out of sight in the hall. This off the top of my head so it may require some refinement but that's where I would start.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2011

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