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  • 1.  Transformed Scene Shop

    Posted 04-23-2020 13:40
    Good Afternoon!

    We have been given a space to utilize as a scene shop and I am hoping to collect ideas from folks that have transformed a classroom-type space for this purpose.  I would love to hear about your layouts, must-dos, and any low-budget transformation ideas.  Also, if you are willing to share pictures of your space, I would LOVE that!  

    Thanks so much!

    Greg Franklin
    Director of Choral Music & Theatre Arts
    Denver, NC
    Troupe 7214

  • 2.  RE: Transformed Scene Shop

    Posted 04-24-2020 06:33
    One thing to consider is the size and layout of the room, make sure everything you build can move into and out of the space to get to your stage.
    Consider where power is in the room when determining tool locations

    congrats on the additional space

    Jerry Onik
    V.P. Theatrical Supplies and Equipment
    Omaha NE

  • 3.  RE: Transformed Scene Shop

    Posted 04-25-2020 15:17
    How big is the largest door to the new space? Remember- it will determine the size of scenery you can build in there. If they'll let you, see if you can put in a roll-up garage door of some sort.

    Billy Houck
    Theatre Teacher, Retired
    Carmichael, CA

  • 4.  RE: Transformed Scene Shop

    Posted 04-24-2020 09:06
    First, congrats!  That is awesome.  As teachers, we know that space is always at a premium.  Very excited for you!  :)

    One consideration is ventilation and dust collection.  You don't want students to be breathing in a lot of sawdust.  A lot of classroom spaces that were designed as CTE spaces (i.e. wood-shop) have a dust collection system connected to their cutting/sanding tools and a large air filtration system.  I would definitely connect with someone in your school/district who runs a classroom space like that to get some tips/advice.

    Feel free to share your progress.  I'm sure there are many who would be interested to follow your journey!

    All the best!

    Guy Barbato
    Theatre Teacher/Director
    Leonardtown MD

  • 5.  RE: Transformed Scene Shop

    Posted 04-24-2020 11:13
    Hello, and congratulations from me as well.  That is awesome.  I agree with the other comments especially about dust collection which is a real issue.  The other suggestion I have would be to build rolling work tables that you can store common lumber under (1"x4", 2"x4").  My shop has two 8' and one 10' table for this purpose.  Each has two shelves underneath for stick lumber.  Another suggestion is to build the tables with tops that are slightly larger than 4' x 8' and/or 4' x 10' so that you can build standard flats and decks on them instead of the floor.  I wish I could get to my shop to take some photos, but I think I will be able to get into my building next week.  I'll try to photograph my tables and send them to you.

    Gary Hicks
    Atlanta GA

  • 6.  RE: Transformed Scene Shop

    Posted 04-24-2020 11:14
    Greg-What fortune to have space made available to dedicate workspace for scenery fabrication.  Some thoughts, and ideas, and resources.

    I echo the comment about ventilation.  Dedicated dust collection is essential for the major fabrication equipment.  If any aerosols will be used, a small spray booth is required.

    Purchase the safest tools you can afford, especially hand tools with dedicated dust collection such as Festool makes.  If a table saw is on your list, the only one to purchase is a SawStop.

    Student machine shops and maker spaces at many colleges use the attached matrix to assess the risks of various power tools, and guide the training requirements and safety practices to be used for each type of tool.

    Be sure to include in your planning and space use a health and safety area, which could include:  first aid kit; hand-wash sink; PPE storage and instructional posters; emergency eyewash; land-line phone; emergency procedures and emergency contact information posting; and shop use rules and other shop related safety and health information.

    If you fabrication space will also be used for finishing such as painting, an industry-size sink with the required drain is required.

    Storage, (there is never enough storage, but): this could include: raw material storage racks for lumber, steel and sheet goods; secure storage for portable tools and equipment; flammables cabinet for storage as needed for spray paints, solvents, etc.; and racks or cabinets for fabric, fasteners, adhesives, and misc. supplies.

    Related to safety and security:  The shop should have a secure perimeter with controllable and limited access to only authorized people.   Each major power tool or similar equipment must have a E-stop within reach of the tool's operator.  All major power tools must be connected to a central E-stop to allow for turning off the power to all the major power tools simultaneously.  Th central E-stop system can be used to lock-out all the major power tools from unauthorized use, via a key switch or ID-prox access card reader system.

    I've also attached a tool hazard matrix document to assist with your planning.

    Depending on your timeline, your planning should include plans, policies and procedures to incorporate social distancing and other health procedures to protect everyone from exposure to COVID-19. 

    Hope this is helpful.  Stay in touch in let us know how things develop.

    Bill Reynolds (he.him.his)
    Lecturer in Theater Safety & Health
    Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre


  • 7.  RE: Transformed Scene Shop

    Posted 04-24-2020 13:26
    My blog (link below) has a few articles on scene shops and related items. I just posted one I had totally forgotten about, regarding layout and organization.

    George F. Ledo
    Set designer

  • 8.  RE: Transformed Scene Shop

    Posted 04-26-2020 09:19
    I think you have received a lot of good advice so far especially as to dust collection, layout and shop purpose.

    I would simply advocate to take some time and buy or borrow every shop/woodworker magazine you can find and look through them for ideas as to purpose and layout.  If you can, it's difficult now, but perhaps you can get a virtual tour or private access set up-- tour some college shops.  Look at pictures online and then start designing what you would like to do.  A lot of your shop's purpose depends on what you are comfortable having students do and what your own skills are.  (Make sure to meet with your administration about training and access) For example, do you want to focus on costuming and props?   Or-- do you want to build three dimensional scenery?  This will drive your design focuses.  And, I think it is perfectly ok that the first year or so the shop is some sawhorses and sheets of 3/4 ply that can be assembled into various work table configurations.  Spend some time building some tool storage and workbench areas-- one for paint, one for woodworking tools, one for prop tools, one for sewing-- that sort of thing.

    Good luck in your journey.

    Michael Johnson
    Trinity NC