Wednesday, April 12, 2017

So Much Drama

Given the current lack of productivity in my shop, I want to occasionally go back and document some memorable projects that I completed before this blog. This time, I wanted to share about the time I was called on to make some things for a dramatic production. I really enjoyed this project mostly from the shared family experience with a great crew. Also in part because the constraints put upon the building of the various props. Overall, I'd suggest if you ever get a chance to do something like this, jump all-in, it'll make you a more creative and faster maker, and help you get over some of the analysis paralysis many of us hobbyist woodworkers deal with on projects.


  • Be done quickly since the production was not far off, also the performers and stage hands (of which I was one) curiously wanted to actually use them for rehearsals. 
  • Budget was very slim
  • Pieces needed to be lightweight enough to be quickly moved on/off a raised platform stage. 
  • Durability was a bit of a mixed bag since it technically only needed to last long enough for the production, but it needed to withstand some regular rough handling. This meant a lot of pocket screws and construction lumber. 
  • We were also trying to be reasonably historically accurate meaning researching furniture from ancient Egypt. (Any excuse to read more about furniture is OK in my book.) 
  • Several folks came together to help as well, so trying to direct the action in a "furniture" shop for a couple of weekends was an additional learning experience, especially since all my power requirements were based around only me ever using one major tool at a time.

A Few Pieces From the Project

There were a number of props that needed to be created for this production but some of the memorable furniture related woodworking ones are here.

Simple Rustic Benches

These were made with x bracing a long stretcher to double as a carrying handle. Had "staked " furniture been known to me at the time, I would have made them in that style. Through wedged mortise and tenons, made them plenty stout even if they were just 2X material. I thought I had a photo, but I don't appear to have one handy.

A Bed/Divan 

I wanted to emulate some of the animal legs in museum bed examples so I coarsely shaped some legs to give the effect. It didn't have to look good up close, which made things easier, but at times it was hard to keep that in mind, though the lesson is a good one when production time trumps all.

Pharaoh's Throne

Though not technically the right period, king tut's throne is well documented and I wanted to give it a shot. Fortunately there was a talented painter available to take the rough bones and make them look presentable. (a few years later when I got to visit the original in the Cairo museum, I was blown away but cherished the details all the more)
The problem in the director's eye was that the traditional Egyptian throne chair was not grand enough to be ostentatious when viewed from the back row. His idea was to have the throne sitting on one or two stacked stones which apparently was historically accurate. The problem was the moving in/out of such a "stone" structure, this meant that I needed to construct a lightweight frame and skin that could still be

moved into place in seconds.


  1. It looks grand, to me! I really like the bed/divan. Another plus for this is being able to make some things that would never be allowed in the house. I mean, really. Who wouldn't want a chance to make King Tut's throne?

  2. Great point, I hadn't thought about that, certainly not acceptable home decor outside of maybe Art Deco Hollywood, but still fun to have made.

  3. The bed/divan looks really great.
    The way you shaped the legs is spot on.

    1. Thanks! I remember looking up art techniques for drawing animal legs, drawing and re-drawing those several times 'til it got better, learning how to see better along the way.