By Charles T. Jackson
With the the “Annie” set coming along for the Youth Theatre’s Summer production, and most of the flat frames already built with low grade 1″ x 3″ strapping, I began to notice some problems with the structural integrity of even these braced frames!! I was beginning to get quite frustrated. Fortunately, The last full flat, and one half flat were still pending when I ran out of low grade 1 x 3 strapping, and headed out to Home Depot for more materials. As luck would have it, the #2 1 x 3s were closer to the front of the store, and being a guy that wants it NOW, I went ahead and got the wood that I came to first, even if it was a bit more expensive. When I got the wood cut and assembled, I was amazed with the stability of the flat frames with the better wood. The explanation was simple, squared wood joins way better than rounded wood.
When you look at the wood from the end, the strapping on the right is clearly rounded on the edges, and the #2 wood is squared on the edge.
When using pocket holes in the lower quality strapping, the screws would split the ends of the narrowed screwing surface and allow for movement in the joint. Even when the screws were fully secure, the rounded edge of the lower quality wood allowed for movement in the joint. While the same splitting occurs occasionally with the higher quality wood, in happens less frequently, and for the most part the joints hold very stably. With the braces, the difference in the stability of the frames is remarkable. The general quality of the wood would come into play after one of the flats was covered, painted and then moved. When loading in one of the flats, I broke the bottom toggle at a knot in the middle. Fortunately I had not used any glue on the frame or the canvas, and I was able to unscrew the broken toggle and braces and replace it in minutes. All flats I would build after those last two, would be built with #2 quality 1″ x 3″ wood. The half flat that I mentioned earlier, I covered with luan, and noticed that there was very little difference in the weight. (It was one of things that made me go Hhhmmmmm) In my next post, I’ll post pictures of the “Annie” flats as the painting progressed. Thanks for stopping.