Broadway Show Stagedecks

IMDrew

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Apr 4, 2017
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The Netherlands
Hi everyone, I just found this site and am completely new to these forums but have a burning question I've been trying to solve for years. We are doing various musical productions and now want to build our own showdecks for each individual production. With tracks, turntables, lifts, special effects etc. built in them.

Does anyone know what the big broadway shows use as decks/how they make them? I know they usually build a metal framework with wood on top, but how do they paint/coat it and what kind of wood do they use? Sometimes the floors look much more durable than normally painted wood and almost plastic-like. Also, we painted our last wooden floor and coated it, but we did a taproutine on it and it muted all the tap sound. Really looking for solutions.

Any help would be appreciated!
 

bobgaggle

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Nov 19, 2007
Location
Philadelphia, PA
I'm not an expert when it comes to stage floors, but since you want to build a deck for each production, the needs of that production will dictate how you construct the floor. There's no one way that will work every time. For example, I built a show where the designer wanted a rough sawn floor (like a barn floor) and also wanted tracking wagons. Hard to get something to roll smooth on a rough floor. The solution was to place surfaced hardwood strips where the casters would roll and paint them into neighboring rough boards. Turntables will effect the structure under the deck.

A simple stage deck commonly used will be two layers of 3/4" ply capped with 1/4" Masonite. The maso gets replaces when its really beat up or has so much paint nothing will roll on it. I knew a guy who made coasters for his coffee table out of an old deck that had 3/8" of paint on it. Pretty cool to look at in section...
 
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RickR

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Sep 18, 2009
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Spokane, WA the great "Inland Northwest"
Touring Broadway shows tend to use thin platforms with coffin locks to hold everything together. The construction varies widely especially on those with automation tracks! I've even seen the tracks built as whole units and the rest is cut to fit it in, rather than have the mechanism make the panel transitions.
 

SteveB

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Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
Hi everyone, I just found this site and am completely new to these forums but have a burning question I've been trying to solve for years. We are doing various musical productions and now want to build our own showdecks for each individual production. With tracks, turntables, lifts, special effects etc. built in them.

Does anyone know what the big broadway shows use as decks/how they make them? I know they usually build a metal framework with wood on top, but how do they paint/coat it and what kind of wood do they use? Sometimes the floors look much more durable than normally painted wood and almost plastic-like. Also, we painted our last wooden floor and coated it, but we did a taproutine on it and it muted all the tap sound. Really looking for solutions.

Any help would be appreciated!
Broadway show decks are custom for each show as well as being dependent on the theater the show is opening in as well as potentially moving to, down the road (Yes - shows move to different theaters on occasion). Each is going to be different due to changing requirements for tracked scenery and props, traps, etc... and each is custom designed according to the technical requirements.
 
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Van

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Portland, Or.
Oh Boy! this is an Undertaking! I think one could write a book simply explaining the design and engineering decisions that go into building show decks. As @SteveB stated, each is custom in design and purpose. I don't think you'll hear anyone here say "Don't Do It" but it is an ambitious undertaking, not knowing anything about your venue. Most "Broadway" style show decks I've dealt with are: steel framed, 2"- 6" thick, broken into as few pieces as is reasonable to handle (weight and trucking dimensions), and they tend to inter-lock with either coffin locks or roto-locks.
Depending on whether or not there are moving scenic elements, the weights involved, the system being used to move the scenic elements... All of these are things that go into the design and engineering process of a show deck.
 
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Van

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What's the difference? I thought the two terms were synonymous. If not, could you please help the wiki?
Oh, OK, I'll help. In Van's world, a Roto-lock and a Cam-lok are the same thing; rotate the key and a cam spins drawing two pieces together. A Coffin lock is a more complicated device it has a "hook and draw" mechanism wherein you turn a key and the lock swings to engage then actually pulls straight into itself.
I'll find pics and look at the wiki when I get home. Oh and I'm perfectly fine with being challenged on this. This is just the way I learned it.
 
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SteveB

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Mar 20, 2004
Location
Brooklyn, NY
I use Roto-Lok brand clamping units, joining 2 pipes together at right angles. Photo attached

Coffin locks as recessed platform locks engaged using an Allen key.
 

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derekleffew

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Las Vegas, NV, USA
In Van's world, a Roto-lock and a Cam-lok are the same thing.
I'm so glad I don't live in Van's world! Can I get a 400amp Roto-lock ?
I use Roto-Lok brand clamping units, joining 2 pipes together at right angles.
Are you sure you don't use a rota-lock ?
A search for Roto-Lok yields many interesting results,
https://rotolok.com/
http://www.knifekits.com/vcom/product_info.php?products_id=3146
https://www.milwaukeetool.com/power-tools/corded/6089-30
https://www.avltech.com/?ap
but as best I can tell, none having to do with connecting two pipes at right angles.

-----
My apologies to @IMDrew for hijacking his thread. By way of amends, here https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/constructing-a-temporary-stage-deck.20733 is a thread that may be useful.
 

gafftapegreenia

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Sep 24, 2005
Location
Michigan
There's more than one way to skin a flat! Or a deck in this instance. The last Broadway-level show that I had my hands on, the decks were skinned in Arboron sheets, an engineered, phenolic, laminated thermoplastic. But that was a specific instance. Our stock platforms are steel framed, lidded in 3/4" ply and skinned with 1/4" MDF.
 

SHCP

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Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Location
San Francisco
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 13, 2015
Location
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I just built and entire portable dance floor designed with coffin locks that secure the pieces together put inserting an Alan Key through a small hole in the floor that locks the coffin lock into the other piece. It's quite fantastic really. Although, I've been building dance floors for 5 years now, its' just the best way to not have to spend the whole day bending over screwing or tapping pieces together with a block and sledge hammer.
 

venuetech

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Apr 14, 2008
Location
AK,

I beleve This is the dual action cam lock Van was describing they call it a roto lock, duel lock at mutual hardware
http://www.mutualhardware.com/Theat...er-Plates/Roto-Lock-Butt-Joint-Panel-Fastener
Rosebrand has them listed as " Dual-Lock butt joint panel latch "
http://www.rosebrand.com/product420/Dual-Lock-Butt-Joint-Panel-Latch.aspx

Both are made by Southco

https://www.southco.com/en-us/r2-r5
The dual action adds substantial draw power to the joint

https://www.southco.com/static/Literature/r2-r5.en.pdf
-------------------------------------
 
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Van

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Yes, that's what I was describing, though I think this is Deja Vu all over agin here on CB, as I'm certain we've had the "Rota" vs. "Roto" conversation.
RotA is a pipe connector, rotO is a Panel clamp.
 
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