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Using Your Woodworking Skills To Build A Play Background

Building wooden play backgrounds is a fairly simple and creative project that helps develop woodworking skills. If you're already a skilled woodworker, you'll probably just enjoy the creativity of designing and painting the set.

When it comes to the theater, such as performing on stage in a play, the background or set needs to look great to help the audience visualize the character and setting of the script. If you are tasked with building a play backdrop or set, you can certainly put your woodworking skills to good use. If you haven’t worked with wood much in the past, this is a great project to develop the skills you’ll need for more advanced pieces.

Using Woodworking Skills To Build A Play Background

Purchasing Lumber For Your Wooden Background

The first question might include what type of wood to purchase for a play background. Pine is a popular choice for a few different reasons:

* Pine is common, affordable, and accessible in most areas.
* Since pine is considered a soft wood, it’s easy to shape and connect with nails and screws.
* It’s pretty easy to cover the wood grain in pine if you want to make your backdrop look like something besides a wooden background.
* Pine is light, so it’s easy to move around the 2×4’s and the finished set pieces.

You can buy pine 2x material of the required size. For example, you might purchase common 2×4’s in a variety of lengths. Most lumber stores stock some standard lengths and will also offer to cut most lumber to the desired measurements.

Assemble And Finish Your Play Background

To build your background, you just need to nail or screw horizontal 2×4’s across the vertical 2×4’s on the back side. Whatever fasteners you are using, make sure you get a length double what the Woodstock it is going into. For example, using 3 inch screws or nails to put two 2×4’s together since the total thickness of the two is 3 inches. This way, the nails will be long enough to stay in place, but they won’t be so long that they show through on the front side.

For a durable backdrop, nail a horizontal plank at the top and on the bottom, and then nail in additional 2×4’s about every two feet. More of these on the back may make the backdrop more durable, but they will also make it heavier.

Before painting the front side, apply a primer. Once this dries, apply water-based, wood paint. This kind of paint should have a matte finish because a glossy finish will reflect stage lights too much.

Building A Stage Jack To Hold Up Flat Play Backdrops

If you plan to build a flat backdrop, you’ll need a way to prop it up behind the stage. You can just place your background against the wall, but a stage jack will hold it steady and make it easier to move around. A stage jack is simply a triangular frame on a base that can hold up backdrops.

One handy tip is to screw castors to the base of the stage jack. This makes it easy to roll out the backgrounds, replace them, and then roll in the new backgrounds when scenes change.

Why Build Wooden Play Backgrounds?

Building wooden play backgrounds is a fairly simple and creative project that helps develop woodworking skills. If you’re already a skilled woodworker, you’ll probably just enjoy the creativity of designing and painting the set.

If you’re new to woodworking, you’ll learn the basics of choosing lumber, nailing 2×4’s together, and finishing wood. These woodworking skills can transfer to many other projects.

Wood also makes a durable choice for play sets. One added advantage is that they can get reused from season to season. Another coat of primer makes sand. Some standard kinds of backgrounds, like outdoor scenes, can be reused in a variety of different plays too.
About The Author:

Ted Leger is a woodworking enthusiast who turned his hobby into a passion. You can find more woodworking tips and advice from him at his woodworking blog,

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