Wood trim for counter


Active Member
I am right now doing a play of Cyrano de bergiac, brought up to modern times. The director wants part of the show to take place in a "starbucks" style cafe. the premis of the set is it becomes everything neededin the play, in one scene it is a Theatre, Another a house, and another it is starbucks. When we are in starbucks a 10'6"Lx 2'4"W x 3'6" High is stained Ply Wood. I want to add some kind of molding or trim to the ply wood to make it look more decorative. We have very little money and was lookin for a suggetion on where to get cheap molding/trim or how to make cheap molding/trim. It does not have to be very fancy i just want somethig nmore then a flat piece of ply.
see if anyone in the cast or crew has a piece of molding sitting in their basement... i know i do because we put in our own in at least 1 room. also you could just paint a realistic looking line across it with some sort of decorative pattern. thats what we did last year
I love when I get to decorate coffeehouses! (my high school did a coffeehouse/poetry reading thing two or three times a year and we held it in the black box and it was always a smash hit!!)

Believe it or not, one of hte coolest things we did was to take a plain white el-cheapo plastic tablecloth (the real thin ones) and drape it over the tabes. I then mounted flourescent lights underneath the tables and wrapped a layer of blue gel around the light! It was a hit and it your counter has enough of a lip to cast a good shadow underneath the table, this is a cheap trick that can really spice up a table.

PS. Somewhere, I've seen gels that are are designed to wrap around flourescent tubes!
Another idea I just thought of is to cut a section out of PVC pipe to make it look like C shape when you look at it from the narrow end. Then use paint that adhere's to plastic and mount it on the edge of the counter as a cool lip.
You can also router or rip on the table saw concaves or convex curves in making large molding sections out of 2" and wider "extruded" polystyrene foam like Blue Dow board. Not the white dot "expanded" polystyrene.

In routering you need a variable speed router. On the table saw, it's a specific technique that requires someone trained in doing so to set it up. You can also use various surform and sanding tools to shape it.

In order for it to stick to the counter or itself in building up layers you either need some contact cement designed for work with foam or some Foam Fast spray adhesive. Liquid nails and panel adhesive might or might not work, often not.

Along the same line would be to use some spray foam such as Great Stuff on the edge of the counter top - especially if within say a rain gutter form that's cut to fit around the counter, than either leave the gutter in place, or if a release method for doing molds is used, to remove the gutter form and further carve or refine the mold. You can also do this with just a U-Shaped lumber form for the spray foam to dry.

Carving the foam as above would require breathing protection and probably a anti-static suit, but it can also be done with belt sanders, saws, routers sur-form tools, grinders with chain saw blades or wire wheels once dry. Still just spray foaming a rain gutter into place would provide a decorative edge and one that's easy enough to paint in a wood graining technique. The foam would remove that tinny sound when it was touched and prevent it from denting. Also The gutter would be something that's cheap, very damage resistant and pre-shaped as if a decorative molding.

Another option is to do so in building up lumber that's routered and sawed to make up such molding. Perhaps even a L-Section with smaller cheaper molding you make or acquire attached and built up from it.

As with the PVC tubing, painting foam would be the most difficult part. On PVC, either use a primer designed to stick to PVC than paint it or some contact cement that sticks to plastic, than after dry, paint atop it as if a primer. Kilz as a brand of primer might work well as long as it works with the latex paint.

In the case of foam, it both does not take paint well and damages easily. Covering it is necessary with if possible muslin in making a fiberglass like surface that both takes paint well and is damage resistant. The heavier the weight of the fabric, the better it will adhere and take paint, much less the more depth it will have, but the closer the audience to the prop, probably the better a tighter weave lesser weight fabric will be even if less damage resistant.

Flex Glue or Sobo and other white glues designed better than the standard Elmers should help the fabric stick in a dutchman like way to the foam especially when the foam is prepped by contact cement, primer or other means. Another option is more in the line of plaster based coverings like Gesso, there is one type of this I forget about as a product name which is a tuff shell you paint on. Could be something like Tuff Coat.

Down and dirty would be to gaffers tape the foam than paint it, but be prepaired for it to peel up and be less damage resistance either during the show or in long term storage.

Hope it helps.
Have you tried contacting remodelers and/or builders to see if they have any scrap they would be willing to donate?

Or home improvement stores?
You could also try cutting a 3 - 4 inch wide strip of thin plywood (say 1/4 inch thick) and then paint or stain that a contrasting color. But with that 10'6" length, you'll have to get a good joint with the plywood strips.

In catching up with this month's stagecraft, I found a similar discussion about topping the foam. Here is a similar thought process on the subject of what to top foam with by way of roofing compund works:

It is a roofing compound that may be available through a local
building/insulation/etc supplier. The Henry's elastometric stuff that Home =
Depot sells is similar, but Jaxsan 600 is a little thicker & holds up to we=
ar better.

Rosebrand also sells it, but it is expensive.

- Will Leonard
As another tip I am adding to my notes as given on stagecraft forum (in the weblinks section of controlbooth - you should take part in both forums in addition to hs.tech in gaining a more broad wealth of knowledge):

Removing paint off of clear plexiglass=

I had some acrylic pipes given to me for use on a set once. They were these
huge clear plastic pipes that you could stand inside of. (Think of the cryo
tubes on the old Last in Space TV series. Anyway, they were perfect, except
someone had spray painted them with gold, white and green. After talking to
a few model making friends, they suggested using EZ Off Oven Cleaner.
Surprise! It took the paint off without destroying, or frosting the clear
plastic. Provided that your cases are sheathed in standard ABS plastic, with
leather texture, this stuff should work wonders for you.

Joe Meils
UCA Theatre
What we often do is use 1"X3" pieces to simulate trim. I don't know if that is what you want or if that may be too plain, but we use it and it often looks decent after it gets painted/stained. I don't know a price, but I don't believe it is very expensive. You can pick it up at pretty much any lumberyard. Actually if a lumberyard doesn't carry 1"X3" I wouldn't get much of anything from them.

This sounds awesome!

What immediately comes to mind is finding a dowl[sp?] rod [one of those round cylinder types of wood] with a radius similar to what you're looking for, cutting it into quarters, painting it, and glueing it to the edge of your table. ^^ I think someone may have had a similar idea up there, with the PVC, but I didn't quite read through the whole thing. ^^ Obviously, it becomes more difficult as size decreases.

Good luck! Keep us updated!


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