How to make stage flats

Written by anne hirsh
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How to make stage flats
Set the stage using flats as a backdrop. (straw-hat theatre image by Pavel Losevsky from

In theatre, the walls that make up a set are constructed from sections commonly known as "flats." Stage flats come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but most are made with standard construction techniques. Despite the lower initial costs of canvas-covered flats, wood-faced stage flats, more commonly known as "Hollywood flats" or "TV flats," are currently used in many theatre programs and professional performances nationwide because they are more durable than canvas flats and can often be reused for multiple productions. Construction of Hollywood-style stage flats is simple and based on a standard 1.2 by 2.4 m (4 by 8 foot) unit, due to the standard size of the plywood used for facing.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 2.4 m (8 foot), 2.5 by 7.5 cm (1 by 3 inch) clear pine
  • Drill/driver
  • 3 mm or 4.5 mm (1/8 or 3/16 inch) drill bit
  • 5 cm (2 inch) drywall screws
  • Wood glue
  • Staple gun
  • 1.2 or 1.8 cm (1/2 or 3/4 inch) staples
  • Hammer

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  1. 1

    Cut two pieces of 2.5 by 7.5 cm (1 by 3 inch) clear pine to 1.2 m (4 feet); one to 116.2 cm (3 feet, 10 1/2 inches); and two pieces to 236.2 cm (7 feet, 10 1/2 inches) 2.5 by 7.5 cm (1 by 3 inch) board is generally 1.8 (3/4 inch) thick by 3.7 cm (2 1/2 inches) wide, but you may need to adjust your measurements if your wood is not these exact dimensions.

  2. 2

    Lay these pieces out like a box on their narrower faces, with the 1.2 m (4 foot) pieces forming the box's top and bottom, the long pieces forming the sides and the shortest piece in the middle, forming a brace called a "toggle."

  3. 3

    Carefully drill pilot holes into the top piece of the wood for two screws on each end and attach the top to the sides with screws. Do the same for the bottom, then find the middle of the frame and attach the toggle across the middle. This completes the frame for your stage flat.

  4. 4

    Squeeze a line of wood glue along the edges of the frame that are facing up and lay a piece of 3 mm (1/8 inch) plywood across the frame so it meets each corner. Have helpers to keep it in place as you attach the plywood facing with staples, starting in one bottom corner and working your way across the bottom with a staple approximately every 30 cm (1 foot). Staple your way up both sides and do the top last.

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