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Door/Flat support on platform

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by themadhat, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. themadhat

    themadhat New Member

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    Hi Everyone,
    We're putting on a production of Crime & Punishment at my college, and this is the set design I worked out with the director. That middle door needs to be able to take some impact from actors, and I was thinking stage braces would be the most effective, but because of the elevation I wasn't sure if it would hold properly (if the stage braces aren't high enough on the flat and door they won't provide enough support, but if I make them too long they lost integrity, correct me if I'm wrong). Also I'm hesitant to increase the depth of the platform to accommodate a stage jack due to limitations on space, supplies, labor, etc.
    I was hoping someone would have an idea as to how to support the set pieces, I really appreciate the help!
    [​IMG]
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    What kind of space are you in? Does the space have a rigid grid? If so, how high from the top of the door?

    Do you have the ability to weld?
  3. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I'm assuming we're looking at the back of the door here and those are escape stairs. My initila impression would be to build 2 14" wide by 8' tall studio flats and attach them to the back of the door flat. Make sure the luan is well secured, glued, screwed, and 1/4" thickness. screwing these short flats into the platform and securing them to the back of the door flat should provide you ample support for lots of slamming.

    Question: Why do actors/directors think people slam doors and dance on furniture? Why actors/directors think that normal furniture will take that kind of abuse for a 6 week run?
    Kind of rhetorical, really, I just like to throw it out there every once in a while.
    themadhat and (deleted member) like this.
  4. JChenault

    JChenault Well-Known Member

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    There is one thing about the design that worries me. Where is an actor going to stand when opening - stepping through - the door. It looks like he will have to step to the first step unless he is going to 'perch' at the top. I think you need a bit more platform US of the door than it looks from the drawing.

    As to bracing - what Van said. If that does not do it, run some additional bracing from the floor ( IE at a less acute angle) till it is stiff enough.
    themadhat and (deleted member) like this.
  5. MNBallet

    MNBallet Active Member

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    I've had very good sets with steel pipe as the vertical structure support. Some dock hardware that takes 1 1/4" inch pipe attached to the structure of the platform that extends all the way to the top of the flat. Pipe is a bit pricy, so you could try it with 1" by 3" steel tubing. I come from a touring background where everything has to come apart and put together quickly. That said, if you are going to build this from scratch and it doesn't have to move, you could build your platform out of steel, and weld on the vertical door supports (from the floor to the top of your flat) cut holes in your decking, and attach the door flat. From your drawing, it looks like the platform is a 4' by 8' so that would be plenty of a footprint for the base to support it.

    Kenneth Pogin
    Production / Tour Manager
    Minnesota Ballet
  6. themadhat

    themadhat New Member

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    Thanks for your quick responses everyone.
    I agree that steel would be a great option, but we dont have the ability to weld at school, and the grid system is just a couple standard, free-hanging battens. Van, I quite like your idea, but one point of clarification: should I attach the studio flats to the frame of the door behind the broadway flat? Or should I make those the exterior wall and construct another flat to bridge the overhead gap.

    JChenault, thanks for raising the space issue, I hadn't noticed that. I'll lengthen the platform by a foot, maybe a foot and a half?
    Also, sorry for not putting this in the original post, I've only just remembered, do you think a prehung exterior or interior door from Home Depot would hold up? Or should I try to fabricate them myself.
    Thanks again.
  7. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    The door is mounted in a broadway flat? That is going to cause some issues. Soft covered flats and doors don't go together well. You will want to butt the two stiffening flats up to the upstage side of the flat... like this...

    __
    I I

    A pre-hung door from home depot will work just fine, however you might have issues tieing in the frame to your flat. Pre-hung doors are meant for walls that are much thicker then a flat. However, without much issue you can hang a door in a standard 1x4 constructed hollywood flat.
  8. scenerymaker

    scenerymaker Member

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    Do the short side walls on the platform that are attached to the door jamb absolutely, positively, world-will-stop-turning, HAVE to be the same height as the other 2 panels on each side? An easy support would be to make the tops of those 2 panels triangular from the top of the door to the top of the panels sitting on the floor. As far as structural strength of the door, can tou make your first (or 20th) door easier, cheaper, stronger, etc. than the experts can make their umpteen thousandth one? If you are concerned about a HD price-point-designed door, go to a good lumber yard who caters to professional builders and get a good (yes, that means expensive) solid-core door. At least it will thud closed like a bass drum rather than rattle closed like a snare drum. You could even go so far as to mike the door so they can be a little gentler on the scenery and still rattle the rafters! Didn't know you were making a percussion instrument, didya?

    Pay attention to the sound quality of the steps, too. Homasote is your friend.
  9. themadhat

    themadhat New Member

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    Footer, we were going to hardcover broadway flat with lauan, but I can revamp the middle flat construction as a studio to support the door. If I did that would I then face the back of the downstage flat with plywood or another material to provide a surface to screw the support flats on?
    Scenerymaker, thanks for the tips on the door, I think we'll go with the prehungs from Home Depot (closest and cheapest), and I'll keep the mic in mind if the director wants more "oomph." I'm doing the treads on the stairs and the top of the platforms as CDX plywood, homasote, and then masonite for a hard finish.
  10. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I would highly advise that the flat the door is mounted in be a hollywood flat. You can then use blocks screwed in to give you some meat to attach the support flats.

    Is there a reason you want to go broadway with the rest of the flats? From a materials standpoint, you are using nearly the same amount and getting a much stronger flat. Do you have a stock of the broadway flats already or is it a storage issue?
  11. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I missed the broadway flat on the sketch. In most cases where you are using a flat as a support for a door unit you want to attach the perpendicular flats < the 2x8's> as close to the door jamb as possible. This means there will be lees chance of flex when the door is slammed. material flex is a greater issue with broadway flats than it is with studios. I would try to mount the 2x8 on the hinge side as close to the jamb as possible then you are going to have to go to the outside stile of the knob side. If you were to mount it right agains the jamb on the knob side you would have enpugh room for someone to get a hold of the knob, or door handle, and it would look kinda funny from the front, having a door that close to doorway.
  12. themadhat

    themadhat New Member

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    That's how I learned it in high school, actually. We almost always used hardcovered broadways. It's also a space issue though - the shop is under the stage, but it's really cramped with little storage and the only way to get anything up to the stage is a narrow staircase. However now that I think about it, doing studio flats would save me from cutting corner blocks and keystones... And you're right about the support, so I think that will be worth it.
    So just to recap and clarify: I should build a 4' by 8' studio flat with a space cut for a prehung door, and use two 2' by 8' support flats perpendicular to the door's flat screwed on as close to the jamb as possible?
  13. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Yup, thats it.
  14. themadhat

    themadhat New Member

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    Thank you all so much for the invaluable help, I really really appreciate it :)
  15. scenerymaker

    scenerymaker Member

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    Can somebody please help a poor software engineer who dabbles in making stuff? What is the difference between Hollywood flats and Broadway flats, other than 2,790 miles, that is). I would appreciate it.
  16. themadhat

    themadhat New Member

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    haha I appreciate the exact distance measurement :)
    A Broadway flat is a unit constructed with the faces of the lumber towards the audience, so that the depth of the entire flat is the same as that of the lumber used. It's very thin in profile. The pieces are glued together butt-to-edge, then plywood cornerblocks and keystones are stapled onto the joints to support the structure. It will have a toggle (a support piece that spans the middle) and two crossbraces as well.

    A Hollywood flat is one that's made by making a butt-to-face joint between the rails and stiles (rails=top and bottom pieces, stiles=side pieces). The depth of this flat is equal to the width of the lumber used and can be glued and screwed together. it should have a toggle every 4' or so.

    A Broadway can be either hard or soft covered using muslin or canvas, or hardcovered using lauan most commonly. A Hollywood will be hardcovered.

    Hope that helps give you a basic idea :)
  17. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Check the wiki, as well. We've posted some pretty intensive definitions and I'm working on getting a collaborative article featuring a video of how to construct both posted as well. If it weren't for this darn job I'd have them both done by now.......
  18. Cashwalker

    Cashwalker Member

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    Another way to look at it, from one Software guy to another -
    Broadway flats are designed to be light-weight, for portability. Either portable as in a scene change where crew come out to move it, or the scenery is flown or portable as in moved between venues. If you're doing a musical with 10 different scenes, you're in a "Broadway" type show. They're likely fastened together with loose pin hinges, rope or other "tricks" for fast setup and strike.
    Hollywood flats are heavier, designed to be structural, almost like building a stud wall. (with a double-stud every 4 feet or so) They are not generally moved during a show, best used for a single-scene shows or moved on a revolve of some sort if there are only a couple scenes. They're fastened together with screws or bolts.

    Can't wait to see Van's article when its ready.

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