Tag Archives: storage

Prop Stories For You From Me

Quirky work: U of A props master makes her cake and caulks it too - Jane Kline, the props master at the University of Alberta drama department, shows off her work in these pictures and video.

Japanese Prop Maker Creates a Magic Gun Without any CGI – I’m sure you have seen the video floating around of the “real life” Dr. Strange spells. Here is a bit more on FriskP, the Japanese maker behind the magic.

Inside the Amish town that builds U2, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift’s live shows – Fascinating longread about Tait Towers, the company that has been building concert sets for the world’s largest rock and roll bands since Michael Jackson. This is literal cutting-edge performance technology; often, the technology to achieve a design is not invented until after construction has already begun.

Ultimate Workbench + 10 Shop Storage Solutions - April Wilkerson made this video showing how she built a quick and easy 4×8 shop workbench, a common size found in prop and scene shops. She also adds some great storage ideas which you can adapt for your own shop.

96-Year-Old Woman Puts Home Up For Sale And People Go Inside To Find It Untouched After 72 Years – Do you want to see some pink 1950’s interiors? Because this is where you can see some pink 1950’s interiors.

How I Organize My Tools

Over the summer, while the theater was dark, I had some time to organize my shop and execute some larger projects. One area I focused on was my tool storage, which has always been a bit improvisational and haphazard.

Triad Stage prop tools
Triad Stage prop tools

The cabinet itself began life in the scene shop to organize their hardware and supplies. A few years ago, they removed it to build a better solution, so I snagged it for my own shop. I also added the pegboard along top.

This past summer, I tore out a lot of the shelving in the bottom and replaced it with more custom pieces. I prefer my tools and supplies to be visually “out in the open”; I find it difficult to deal with things in drawers or behind closed doors. My feeling is that “if I can’t see it, I don’t have it.”

Of course, securing the tools is another thing. I may add doors on the front to lock it at night, but during the day, I would still keep it open. My shop itself is kept secure, so I haven’t had things walk off with this kind of setup.

I like using pegboard to organize tools because it allows me to see what I have and it takes up very little floor space. For tools like saws, files, and rasps, it also prevents the edges from becoming dull and dinged, which is what happens when they are stored in a drawer and other tools are constantly thrown on top of them. I would probably use more pegboard if I could, but this was the largest piece I found in the shop.

The tools are roughly organized so that similar tools are kept together: measuring tools, cutting tools, assembly tools, etc. If you are looking for a mallet, and you find the hammers, you know the mallets will be close by. Accessories and consumables are also stored in close proximity to their tool; drill bits are near the drills, and sanding discs are near the orbital sanders.

Most of the smaller paraphernalia is kept in plastic bins, but I made some custom organizers for Dremel bits, router bits, and my tap and die set. Again, keeping router bits and taps in a bin would ding up the cutting edges as they rubbed against each other. Dremel bits just become a nightmare when you start mixing them together into one giant container.

For the future, I may add even more dividers so that the power tools all have their own “cubby”; it would be great to determine which tools are missing just by glancing at the cabinet and seeing an empty space. I may also add labels and trace out the outlines of the tools on the pegboard.  I find its easiest to keep things clean if every item has a specific location that it returns to.

Do you want to share images of your tool storage? Shoot me an email, or leave a comment on my Facebook page!

Touring the Houston Grand Opera

While at the 24th Annual Society of Properties Artisan Managers conference in Houston, we got a chance to tour the stage and warehouse of the Houston Grand Opera. On the first day, we visited the Wortham Theater Center, located in the heart of downtown Houston. Being an opera, the stage and seating are far larger than most of the theaters we work in.

So many linesets
So many linesets

Continue reading Touring the Houston Grand Opera

A Visit to the Alley Theatre Prop Storage

I recently returned from the 24th annual Society of Properties Artisan Managers’ Conference. This year, it was held in Houston, and hosted by the Alley Theatre and Houston Grand Opera. As part of the conference, we were able to tour the prop storage of the Alley.

They have hand props and some commonly used items located in the basement of the theatre itself, located right in downtown Houston.

Head stock
Head stock

Continue reading A Visit to the Alley Theatre Prop Storage

Let There Be Links

Life Behind the Curtain—The Show Couldn’t Go On Without Them – Playbill has gathered the stories of 21 different folk who work behind-the-scenes on this year’s Tony-nominated productions. The range and variety of jobs in theatre is vast, which many high school and even college students do not realize. Not everyone needs to be a stage manager!

Assembling the Giants – Alliance Studio created some massive action figures based off the characters of Blizzard’s new game Overwatch as part of its promotion. The construction was mostly boring 3D printing, but the paint jobs were quite complex and cool.

Shop Hats for You & the Apprentice – If you wanted to reintroduce the tradition of making your apprentices and journeymen wear special paper hats, Chris Schwartz has dug up these authentic instructions and illustrations showing how to make your own.

Tool Storage for the Rest of Us – “All drawers eventually become junk drawers.” Wise words from Popular Woodworking Magazine, which gives us some tips and tricks on creating wall-mounted tool storage so you can see everything you got.