Platforming, things to stand on, stage decks, etc.

 
This Caster Corner, for lack of a better term, was custom designed and built.
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For info about homasote: www.homasote.com. DON'T write to our site. We don't sell, manufacture, supply, etc... this stuff.

Homasote is a gray board that is made out of paper. It comes in 4'x8' sheets and is 1/2" thick. You'll find it in almost any school being used as bulletin boards. you can push pins into it with ease. So, why on platforms? If you cover the platform with Homasote and then cover that with muslin
it can be painted very nicely and it becomes very quite to walk on.

Note: We are NOT suppliers! I've gotten a few emails asking me for prices and such. Call your local lumber yard/building supplier. I don't think Home Depot has it.

 

Board lumber comes in many different sizes, types and shapes. Most of the lumber we use in set building is taken from fast growing soft wood trees. We must do our best to recycle as much lumber as we can. While wood does grow on (in) trees, we should do our part in preserving our natural resources.

We use the following sizes of board lumber the most. You'll notice that the list has two different columns on the left. One labeled Name and the other labeled Actual. A 2"x4" is not actually 2 inches by 4 inches when it reaches the lumber yard. You see, when the wood is cut from the log at the saw mill, the actual size is 2 inches by 4 inches "rough cut". Rough cut means the surface of the wood has rough saw marks all over it. When you get the lumber, it has already been smoothed via a large wood surface planer. When you pass wood through a surface planer, the blades take off 1/8th of an inch from each side. The result is a smooth piece of wood that is smaller then it's name.

Here's a mix-n-match set of platform methods. The open framed part is called a parallel.

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The platforms on the top are comprised of a basic 4x8 and a 4x4 platform framed using 1x6 lumber. The bottom platforms are only slightly different as they are framed with 2x6 lumber. These bottom platforms also have casters attached.

 

Remember the question that was asked during class. How do we make this 4'x4' platform rotate? It is sitting on top of the two 4'x8' platforms that do not provide a solid, complete surface.bdnplat.jpg

 

 

  

 

Hello Again and welcome to the Techie’s Corner. This month I am going to start a series of articles on platforms. We will try to cover everything from parallels to triskets to space age stressskin and everything in between.

Platforms in some form or another have been used in theatre as long as theatre and the stage has existed. In fact the stage itself is a form of platform. In some cases a stage is a permanent installation inside a building and is usually raised to some degree above the audience. By far though, the majority of stages in the world today are temporary structures made up of platforms. Rock concerts, Music festivals, fair grounds, school cafetoriums, etc. comprise more stages than all of the legitimate theatres in the world.

 

Welcome once again to the Techie’s Corner. This month we are continuing our series on platforms. This month we will talk about the most common platform in the theatre, the ubiquitous 4 x 8 stock platform and it’s close friends, the small group of “standard “ stock sizes of platforms.

All platforms consist of three things: the Lid, the Frame and the Legs and bracing.

The Triscuit and the Texas Triscuit
An Introduction to Stressed Skin Platforming

Welcome to this month’s Techie’s Corner. The last two articles have discussed types of stock platforming that have been around for several centuries, the parallel, and for almost a century, the plywood covered 4’x8’ unit. This month’s article will be about a type of stock platform first developed about 1990 at the Yale School of Drama, called a “Triscuit”.

The Triscuit is four foot by four foot, stressskin unit 2 3/8” thick. To truly describe a triscuit, we will first have to explain just what a “stress skin” unit is. For those of you who already know, skip the next few paragraphs.

Stress skin almost defines itself, i.e. a unit with a skin under stress. But what does that really mean? Actually it means a unit with two skins which oppose each other in the direction that they handle stress. Between the two skins is a core to which the skins are completely bonded. The core may be continuous, such as foam core mounting board, or open like the honeycomb construction of a hollow core door. In order for a stress skin unit to flex or bend, one skin has to stretch and the other has to compress see Illustration #1

Hello again, and welcome to the Techie’s Corner. In the last three articles we have looked at a number of different types of platforms. Not every type, just some of the most used and the most well known. Now we are going to look at how to elevate or leg these platforms to the height needed for our show.

There are more ways of legging a platform than there are of building the platform itself. What makes a legging system right for you depends on your particular situation. Do you have storage space for “stock” leg pieces? Do you have skilled carpenters or do you rely on a group whose skills vary from pro to rank beginner? Do you build your units on stage or in a shop off site? Look at the costs, time, skills, available tools, etc. and decide which system is best for you and your theatre.

Legs, Legs, Legs! (Betty Grable, Eat Your Heart Out!)

Once again, welcome to the Techie’s Corner. In the last few articles we have talked about platforms, the types of platforms, special platforms and how to brace them. This month we will look at legs, legs of many types and how to make them and what their pro’s and con’s are.

Legs fall into two major types, those that support by friction pressure and/or the shear strength of fasteners, called the standard leg, and those that support by direct, in-line compression, called compression legs. I am sure that there will be several types of legs that I will miss or forget. Please contact me directly and I will make space for those and include them in next month’s article.

The basic difference between the two types of legs is manner in which they support their loads. A friction/shear leg relies on the tightness of the fasteners, the sideways friction generated between the leg and the platform and the “sheer” strength of the chosen fastener. The compression leg relies on the direct in line compression of the leg material.

Up to now we have been dealing with single platforms. This month we will look at ways to use studwall supports for decks, large platform layouts and that thing in the middle, the one-off platform.

For those readers who are fairly new to platform layouts in theatre, a one-off platform is one that might be neither 4’ nor 8’ and may be three sided, four sided, five sided or more, have no angles of 90 degrees and is built specificly for that one show, that one time use. For example, a one-off platform might join two rectangular platform groups to form large, angular formations.

Plywood. If you take a look at plywood, you'll see that it is indeed made up of a number of plies of wood. In other words, several sheets of very thin wood is sandwiched together to make a wooden board. Each ply is set in a 90 degrees direction from the last. The top and bottom plies run the same direction: the long way. So, you'll have the grain running longer then not.
Plywood comes in several different thickness, types and grades.

Recycling is an important part of saving our natural resources. Right now, as I type this, I'm sitting on a plane flying from Los Angeles to New York. I'm going home from a vacation during which I drove through Washington and Oregon. Seeing the baron hills where great trees once stood deepened my resolve to save as much from each set as possible. While the lumber companies of those states are replanting several acres of land, the new trees won't bring back the various wild life that used to live there.

Turn tables have been used in theater for a very long time. They allow for quick scene changes. They can be effective in adding movement to the show. On Broadway, a great example of turn table use is in the musical, Les Mis. They use the table to allow the actor to walk, but stay in one place.

The most interesting turn table I've worked on is the one built into the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The turntable is built across three elevators. All three elevators must be at the same level.

A turntable is simple to make and to operate. It can be any size and shape. Round is the most popular. The one on this page is 4 feet square. You can also take a look at a turntable during the building process...

styrofoam

 

Styrofoam can be cut and shaped into lots and lots of shapes. you can carve it with sharp razor blades, electric carving knives, hot wire cutters, saws of various types and you can also use your fingers.

Home Depot sells Styrofoam building insulation is 2x8 sheets. I try to always have a couple of sheets around. They are just that handy. We use them for building models, adding spacers to the counterweight system and more.

Plain old Elmer's Wood Glue. Lots of it... t1.jpg

Turn tables have been used in theater for a very long time. They allow for quick scene changes. They can be effective in adding movement to the show. On Broadway, a great example of turn table use is in the musical, Les Mis. They use the table to allow the actor to walk, but stay in one place. 

The most interesting turn table I've worked on is the one built into the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The turntable is built across three elevators. All three elevators must be at the same level.

Click read more for more! 

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