Design Elements

Faux Circle Truss

Matt Lussier from Kidzturn Ministries shows us how they made a fake circular truss. Awesome!

They concentrate on building set elements for their touring kids ministry, but Matt figured this circle-truss work-around might be useful to some churches as well.

They wanted to have two 7 foot circle-truss borders for video screens in their 2011/2012 set. That would have cost about $3000 including freight. This alternative came in at closer to $600.

Materials available at Lowes or Home Depot:

  • 200ft spool of black ADS 1″ plastic coil pipe (Made of HDPE)
  • Rustoleum hammered metal spray paint or brush on
  • Misc screws for assembly
  • A couple 10 foot 1″ pvc lengths for crossbars
  • Some scrap 3/4 plywood to make connecting plates

Available online:

Here’s their step by step process:

STEP 1 – Cut your black pipe lengths.
With the more complicated 4-pipe, triangular, non-square profile they did, it was a bit complicated to get the 4 perfect lengths. Since they were making 2 identical circle truss elements, they had to try to make 4 equal half trusses. What worked best was to make 4, 2″pvc lengths of the approximate sizes, and shove the black pipe in till it was flush on the other side, then cut.

STEP 2 – Making 4 identical connecting plates.
They used 3/4″ plywood, some wood glue, and some brad nails. The large holes determine the profile of the pipes. The center hole is to bolt the 2 pieces together when completed.

STEP 3 – Screw slip tees on crossbars and get organized before assembly
Cut the 1″ pvc for the quantity of crossbars you want. Screw the slip tees on to the PVC making sure they stay square to each other.

STEP 4 – Assembly – Feed the pipes.

STEP 5 – Line up the crossbars and screw them in place.
Make sure you use your 2 plywood connecting plates on each end. Then start moving all the crossbars in place. Don’t screw them down till you know you got them in their spot.

STEP 6 – Trim the excess pipe.
Using the plywood as a guide…make the best judgment call on how much excess pipe needs to be trimmed off. Take your time. If you trim to much, you will need to go back a few steps.

STEP 7 – Add screw “stoppers”.
Matt put 2″ sheetrock screws through the ends.

STEP 8 – Hot glue bases to pipes.
Clamp the pipes so the “stopper” screws are tight against the plywood. Layer on a thick blob of hot glue to permanently seat the plywood on the pipes.

STEP 9 – One half is done…time to repeat.

STEP 10 – Paint silver.
They used rustoleum silver hammered metal brush on paint.

STEP 11 – All done.

STEP 12 – Bolt the 2 halves together at the plywood connector plates.

– the size and shape (4 pipe, 3 pipe or 2 pipe) truss will vary the cost.
– this design is to achieve a look, and not to mount lights to.
– they’re strong enough to stretch material on the back and use for front projection or lighting up.
– you can spray them with a chrome silver paint as well for a shinier look.
– this concept shouldn’t stop at a circular truss. Many curved truss stage elements could be faked with this principle.
–  remember: this is for decoration and is non-load bearing.

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