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Do You/Your Theatre Build With Steel?

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by Footer, Jun 9, 2009.

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How do you use steel in your theatre?

  1. We build everything out of steel

    4.7%
  2. We do a mixture of steel and wood

    44.2%
  3. We never use it, but I would like to know more

    44.2%
  4. We never use it and do not want to start

    7.0%
  5. We have a welder in the corner, but don't know how to use it

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. If its going into stock, its built out of steel

    2.3%
  7. We use steel, but its produced out of house

    2.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    After 10 hours under the hood today, I am interested in how many of you guys/gals at any level of theatre build using steel or aluminum? If so, what do you use steel for vs. wood? Are you interested in learning more about steel construction and its benefits?
     
  2. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    We use steel for items that call for it in design or call for it structurally. We've built stairs, platforms, frames, a ladder/wall structural unit, and some other things out of steel, but mainly build out of wood. Most of the designs in recent memory have included some steel, though. We have 2 welders, a metal chop saw, a nice tiny little pneumatic angle grinder for deburring, and a liquid-cooled metal band saw. I've welded before a few times, but I wouldn't list it as a skill on my resume without hours more practice and work on various metals with various welders.
     
  3. Amiers

    Amiers Lighting Phoenix 1 Lamp at a Time

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    Location:
    Phoenix, Az
    We also do a mixture of steel and wood. Most of our hand railing is made out of steel. We put on Ragtime last year and had tons of ladders. Then for King John we had the whole set faced in corigated steel that was a pretty awesome set (to bad it was done with puppets and not real people :( ). For the most part though we build with wood and the steel is for eye pleasing its not cost effective to build an entire set from steel nor is it mover friendly.
     
  4. dramatech

    dramatech Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
    MASTER ELECTRICIAN
    Location:
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    About what soundlight said
     
  5. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Occupation:
    Controls Technician - TAIT Towers
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    Lititz, PA
    We build with steel all the time. From flats to platforms to specialty items. It all depends on what the show calls for. You get a lot more structural integrity from a much smaller piece of steel than wood so it allows to you build things that are very strong but have a low profile. Basically it all depends on how the TD decides that things need to be built and what materials will be the most cost effective, safe, take the right construction time, and give the look we need.
     
  6. jonliles

    jonliles Active Member Fight Leukemia

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    Location:
    Marietta, Georgia, United States
    Generally the theatres I work with build with wood.I personally would like to see more steal framed risers and flats, especially considering almost all of our sets are unit peices and do not move.

    Yes, I can weld (Stick, Tig, & Mig).
     
  7. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Central Wisconsin
    The set builders in my theater can barely build things safely and good-looking out of wood. I shudder to think of what would happen if they started to use steel. Sure, we sometimes use steel or wrought iron decorative pieces such as banisters and handrails, but it's extremely rare and they're always purchased premade..
     
  8. scenerymaker

    scenerymaker Member

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    Location:
    Indiana
    Moving parts or things that have to be light but strong are generally steel. Simpler things are wood. For example, I recently did a 25 foot diameter turntable that had to hold 50 people on the front half, yet be small and light enough that 2 people could move any individual piece. The frame is built up from steel studs and channels and the deck is plywood & 2x4 boxes. I'm working on a video of the assembly and operation that I'll post.

    I put the work into getting it right because it's scheduled to be used for at least 6 years.
     
  9. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Vegas
    I'm on a road so we make everything out of steel and aluminum. It makes it much more durable for years of travel in semi trucks as well as lighter. Also being an ice show, wood would likely warp and rot which is not pretty or safe.

    Personally I can stick pieces of metal together and make it look have decent with a MIG wire feed but I wouldn't trust myself to weld anything weight bearing.
     
  10. Dionysus

    Dionysus Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
    Technical Director
    Location:
    London, Ontario, Canada
    I am trying to get the community theatre here to switch to using some steel for stock set pieces, especially the large risers. Unfortunately I don't weld, but I do indeed want to learn (I didn't take carps in theatre school past first year, it was carps or lighting...I took lighting.).

    I think if I could weld the head carpenter here would do the switch.
    Oh well.
     
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
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    Seattle, Washington
    I tried to get permission to buy a welder and incorporate a bunch of steel here but the college didn't want to deal with the hazard and expense.

    I am starting to use more Uni-strut as it ads the strength of steel but in a bolt together product avoiding welding.
     
  12. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Location:
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    Which is far more expensive than the welded steel would be.:rolleyes:

    And as for the hazard issue, with proper training and safety procedures, welding is no more dangerous than building with wood.
     

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