Theatre Stage Flats

Hi. I am a woodworker helping out an amature theatre group in making stock scenery for their upcoming plays. They basically require a number of 1/4" plywood covered 12'X4' frames made of 1"X3" pine. These have to be rigid enough to stand on the stage just using a brace at about 6' height. Two questions for the experienced woodworkers in this NG: 1. Best source for cheap but good and straight pine boards in the bay area. 2. The type of joints you would suggest for rails and styles, given the dimensions. Thanks in advance.
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I was building cheapo furniture from Pine and other than buying big loads from the commercial vendors (I used Higgins) and got #1 common at a goo dprice and it was very nice. I was also buying 1x12x8ft Ponderosa (knotty) Pine from Lowes when they had them. They stock them to be used as shelving. They are like #3 common so I'd have to pick through the piles pretty well to get good straight pieces.
Home Depot is also an option. They stock lots of Pine and you can pick through.
As far as joining 1x3's into frames, I would opt for butt joints with blocking. Butt them and shoot them with a nail gun for a temp setup. Then cut some 2x4 blocks and use cheap deck screws through the pine into the blocks at all the corners. You can also butt the ends where you need longer pieces on the 12' sides and lapp a 2x on the back and glue and screw. The Pine is so soft that a 3x is hard to get any reliable joint so the 2X blocks give you something substantial at a dirt cost.. Alternatively you could glue the block and shoot them with nails also but the screws will be faster. You don't need to pre-drill for the pine or 2x's.
Fo r applying the ply, you could shoot the ply onto the frames also and then drop in some screws. If you added some glue then you'll really stiffen it up. Also, screwing into the blocks at the corners and intermdiate points in the frame will be better than into just the pine.
I'd suggest some sort of bracing and also at least one intermediate cross member but maybe better to have 2 at 4' intervals to have one at the ply joint (assuming you are using 4x8 ply.

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"pradeep gupta" wrote

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Butt joints, drywall or deck screws, plywood triangles across each corner on the back, cross-bracing about every 4'. Having some scrap 2x4 blocks on the back will make it easier to run bracing to the floor to hold it upright. I used to work with luaun plywood for the skin of the thing.
On Fri, 30 Nov 2007 16:28:44 -0800, "pradeep gupta"

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wrote:

pradeepgupta, You might check out: http://tinyurl.com/2t3qbe If you're going to do much work with this group, you, or they, might want to buy a copy of Backstage Handbook by Paul Carter. Their drawings of flats on pages 276 - 279 agree very well with Tom's. Kerry
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On Fri, 30 Nov 2007 16:28:44 -0800, "pradeep gupta"

Cheap good 1x3 is found at the table saw ripping sheets of 3/4" plywood. I was not paying attention last time I was in a shop that does set design and construction for trade shows. They have a ripping saw that does a number of sheets of plywood at one time. The other flats I have touched all seemed to be 8 foot sections as that was how big the plywood was. Since you have seems anyway we just bolted together flats if we needed taller sections.
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I would suggest using 1/8 luan door skin instead of the 1/4 ply. In addition a "Hollywood flat" is usually constructed from 2 x 2 glued and screwed. The bottom & top edges are against the 4' edge they usually get a 1/2 chamfer at each end to prevent splitting. Traditionally there is a 10" corner made from 1/4 ply at each corner, and keystones for other bracing.

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pradeep gupta pretended :

I use pine studs 70mmx35mm Butt jointed with long screws into the ends. Three long verticals with two studs either end.
1/4 " ply is overkill and you don't want these things too heavy. They will get that way after the first 20 coats of paint. I use the thinnest ply I can buy that will cover the sheet. If you can't get a single sheet to cover the frame put noggins at the join and masking tape over the join on the audience side.
Some groups prefer to stretch canvas over the frame, I don't but that could be that I prefer using wood.
I have some rough plans I drew up for another group if you want them. Included is a plan for a door flat.
If they need any help with anything more specific, beyond just flats, let me know. my theatre email address is president at frontrow dot org dot au
Remember anything you do that can only be noticed while standing on the stage is more than you have to.
Mekon
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Thanks to all. I will bring other "theatre" woodworking issues to your attention as they arise.

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On Fri, 30 Nov 2007 16:28:44 -0800, "pradeep gupta"

Here's a UK "theatrical chandler" who sells a wide variety of fittings and fixtures for thatrical work. It's worth a look, particularly for the knock-down fittings and the stage-related specialist paint http://www.flints.co.uk
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Andy Dingley pretended :

Thanks for that, there is some interesting stuff there!
Mekon
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Back when I was building sets for the local college, we covered the flats with a heavy muslin material. The wood was 1x3 with a horizontal member every 3 or 4 feet. 1/4 inch plywood corner brackets were put on the corners and at the cross pieces. Butt joints and took about 10 minutes or less to build one. The muslin was attached with white glue around the parameter. When primed, the muslin shrunk tight.
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