How would I make a door for stage, that is strong enough to be run into by a running human body, without a large cost and without it falling over. Also it cannot be bolted into the floor.
Thanks for your help

L : - )


Active Member
Is this simply a door standing alone in the middle of the stage or is there a set around it?
Our three one acts this year all involve people putting pressure onto a door in one way or another (body check, slamming/leaning on door, and just plain running into it), and the flats that the door and door frame is in hold it up and steady. In one case the door does shake the set somewhat, so we have stage hands hold the back of the flats when the door is being slammed/leaned on, etc. Our sets are made to move quickly (all our flats have a small bit of carpet on the bottom so they slide) between each play, but they stand up fairly well to the door usage.

It all depends on the application really. As per the cost, the door itself may be the most expensive item, or the least, depending again on the set.
There are some "flats" (we are making them out of canvas) and the door must be run into slamed into and then eventually opend. The time frame we have to build the door is about 2 weeks and we also have to biuld 2 walls (using those "flats") in that time period. I dont think the Director has the wall touching the door. These are student run plays and all the set and costumes and what not is done by students.

How would I attach it to the walls if they were going to be attached. And the door would only have one wall on it.


L :)


Active Member
Well the door must have a frame, doors purchased from the store will usually be pre-hung in the frame. If you get a door with a solid frame, you could try placing some kind of struts behind it to steady it. Does this door have to open?

It shouldn't make a difference whether the flats are canvas or wood, because the frame must be wood anyways. A word of caution though, canvas is a B*TCH to work with in making flats, because A) It must be stretched to fit such a huge frame, B) It is much more expensive than wood C) It does not look as good when painted as wood D) The weight difference between a simple wood flat and a canvas flat is not usually enough to warrent a canvas flat.
Just make sure your art students know this, because when we were building our sets the art department refused to do canvas for those reasons. Put us behind schedule getting more wood flats built.

If you did attach the door to the flat, you would attach the door frame to the flat with nails or what ever.

BTW, what school do you go to? I live around your area. And what play, if you don't mind my asking?

Good luck!


Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
Doors purchased at a home center will provide a very insufficient frame to build a stage doorway out of. The lumber is normally slimmed down in thickness and often dry enough it will split when not used as designed. Much less it’s stapled together only sufficiently so as to hold it together. This given once it's own shipping framing supports are removed, there is little to nothing left to the frame that won't fall apart and come out of square. Such a store bought frame depends upon later attachment to a structure to provide support - the pre-hung frame is only molding with a door attached to it. Much less a pre-hung solid core door as in one form or another will be necessary if the actors run into it. Such a door will cost an arm and a leg pre-hung or not.

Not sure if I completely agree with the statements about advantages or disadvantages with soft verses hard flats. While hard flats can be at times easier to construct, when the show calls for a soft flat by way of design intent, or when that’s what you have available, that’s what you use.
Painting also takes technique, no material without expert painting will look like wood from the back row of the audience short of stuff that is painted to look like wood - no matter the surface to be painted. Can’t simply stain and varnish wood at all times if you want to see graining technique from afar. Much less short of a large budget, making period pieces look correct will require a lot of very expensive lumber. Not just lumber but clear pine if not as otherwise necessary hardwood.

Attaching the door to the flats wood or canvass can be a question in this case. The door since you cannot attach to the floor certainly won’t gain any more strength from it, much less the walls might shake more than necessary if not even come down. Support of the flats will be a must but they can be supported separately.

Given this door needs to be removed, I might suggest that you hit the library for some scenery for the theater text books and look for both stage braces and stage jacks, much less the typical door frame and doors used on stage. Given such wishes have been done before, such concepts are already laid out.

Above a box frame door and doorway flat, you might wish to do three hinges instead of two and make sure they are rugged both in installation and stature. Should you attach to another flat in using the soft flat method, various forms of lash lines and whalers still have strength advantages in picking up shock loading over stuff that’s nailed or screwed. You need someone on site with experience in such things to help you because not even a book will fill in all the details.

Beyond this, you probably would want some form of dual stage jack on each side of the doorway frame. The stage jack for this application typically will be designed so as to hold sand bags or stage weights within it’s supports. This adds the weight stage hands in helping can’t otherwise sufficiently support adequately. On the bottom of the stage jacks, rubber coating the bottom of the stage brace often once weighted will be sufficient to prevent the stage jack from moving. Given this needs to be hit by an actor, perhaps attaching both stage jacks together by way of plywood on the floor attaching them together when it has a rubber mat attached to it than would provide more structure. Given it must be struck, drywall screwing a stage jack assembly to the door flat frame should be sufficient to transport it afterwards. The stage jack can typically go up in height 2/3 it’s distance away from the flat. Some instances require a 45 degree angle otherwise for more support of force applied to the door or wall in transmitting that to the floor. Since some of this force won’t be supported by the stage jack, extra support by way of stage brace or a similar brace extending out further than the jack or if as needed attached to the floor plate of the jack will help support the top of the door frame or even door frame flat as one unit.

Unscrew the jack from the door, unhook the brace from the flat, detach the whalers and lash line cleat rope, remove the weights and the supports for the door are gone - no tools involved. While the new techniques have advantages, sometimes the old techniques in having been worked out over a hundred years or more will work.

Better than attaching a stage brace to support the top, would be to somehow attach the doorway to some form of supports above. At very least some form of ensuring the flat/door won’t fall over is necessary if at all possible. Otherwise, distance away from floor and weight equals support even when people bounce off it.

For the door itself, potentially a door can be made simply out of a piece of ½" plywood with supporting frame for it in making it into a paneled door. The panel door frame is very strong. Given manufacture of the door, the frame can be skinned with plywood or plywood can be sandwiched by frame where necessary for support. I would recommend having a look at least at a door company website in how doors are constructed, than as with the above, consult stage books on how to construct a door. You than have how it’s built in understanding and how as similar it’s built for the stage both economically and stronger.


Active Member
Sory i forgot to mention you asked about cost the whole door flat with the electric work paint and jacks to purchese was about $2,500.00 CDN it was able to be put up in 20 min taken down in 15. including the light wall. it was used in a week long run and the trick to avoid shake from opeining and closeing was cinderblocks painted black on the jacks. this was professionaly built and will be on tour so i assume with free labour and some cheep wood you could do it for around 500 CDN but you never know you can do it cheeper if you want to make sure you brace the point at which the door closes depending if the door opens out or in you will need to brace the lach that holds the door shut other wise when hit it will snap right through the wood trust me i have done it

Jon Hirsh


Active Member
we did a play that had someone running into a door and everything you need. It was called "Cagebirds". Is that what you guys are doing? anyway, we used a prehung exterior door that we bought from home depot and attached a flat at a 45 degree angle to it, on the back of the door, we attached a board that could be removed sorta like the old fashioned castle doors where they have the 2x4 that drops onto two hooks on either side of the door. That kept it from opening, so when the actors ran into it, we had a stage hand on the back holding the door, and when it had to be opened, the stage hand removed the 2x4 and it opens. We positioned the door close to teh wing so that teh flat would cover teh entrance from teh wing so our stage hand can walk freely back there and not be seen.

Hope that helps you out. That took us 2 weeks to figure out to do it that way and how to hold the 2x4 in there securely so the holders wouldn't break off when tehy ran into it.

Users who are viewing this thread