Stage Designs

Bi Pallets

Chess Hoyle from Advance Student Ministry at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, NC brings us this reclaimed wood set with different zones of lighting.

They recently built a custom drum enclosure for their student ministry space and needed a set that ensured that the enclosure wasn’t the focal point of our stage. Their past four sets had been based on white cardboard/Coroplast, so with reclaimed wood sets being “all the rage,” they decided to built a reclaimed wood set of their own. Chess was actually a little nervous about this set build in terms of time and labor, but it came together significantly faster and easier than he expected. Day 1 was spent harvesting the wood (3-4 hours), day 2 was spent building the stage pieces (4-6 hours), and day 3 was spent building the top wall pieces (3-4 hours). A grand total of ~14 hours and a cost of $0, as they already had plenty of 2x4s laying around for framing.

They started by finding free pallets from a local warehouse on Craigslist. With two sawmills, they were able to cut apart 30 pallets in about 3-4 hours (they weren’t worried about pulling all the nails out). Then they assembled frames with plenty of 2×4 studs and just started securing the pallet wood to their frames using a framing nailer. Once the four stage pieces were built, they assembled the large wall pieces. Since these were 20 feet wide and their space doesn’t allow the use of a lift, they built the pieces in halves that fit like puzzle pieces. This way, they were able to hang one half at a time and not deal with the weight of a set piece that was 20 feet wide.

Once the wall pieces were mounted and the stage pieces were set, they had enough wood left over to cover the front of their stage as well to finish the look. Once they lit the set, Chess discovered an unexpected perk. Due to the positioning of our set pieces, he was able to really control the depth of their stage to create a number of different looks. He can choose to:
1. Use only our overhead stage wash lights to have an “infinitely deep” black background.
2. Light up only the wall pieces to create a deep stage.
3. Light up the wall pieces and the outside stage panels to create a wider stage.
4. Light up only the front set pieces to create a smaller, more intimate stage.
5. Light up the entire set.

Check out a more detailed write-up here.






















Light Wings Grinchy

10 responses to “Bi Pallets”

  1. ruben says:

    Love the drum cage! great job! do you happen to have the schematics of it?

  2. James says:

    Can you pass along any information on the components making up the drum cage? Especially interested in the type of glass used and where it is available?

  3. Caleb Gibson says:

    I’m doing this same stage. My question is, what lighting should I buy? It’s much smaller than this more like 30’x10′ stage with the backdrop these pallet wood on the wall. Got any simple buys?

    • Chess Hoyle says:

      Hey Caleb,

      The #1 factor that will determine this is your budget. You could buy a cheap set of LEDs for $1000, or spend $5000 per fixture when it comes to lighting. I love our Color Kinetics Colorblast fixtures, which are the ones you see in the photos there. In general, with LED lighting, cheaper fixtures have a handful of potential problems:

      1. They flicker on camera due to their refresh rate
      2. They don’t do blended colors well (orange, yellow, pink, purple, etc.)
      3. They don’t spread light as well due to the layout of their LEDs

      When it comes to lighting pallets, wide LED bars are the way to go so that you get maximum coverage.

  4. Matt Crosson says:

    Awesome set design. Do you know what type of Gretsch kit that is?

  5. Matt Crosson says:

    Thanks, I’m buying a kit for our church and having being looking at the Gretsch kits.

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