Since we sold our live-aboard tugboat and bought a house back in 2006 I've taken an interest in having an outdoor holiday display. It started with a purchase of an inflatable snow globe. and a few lights. It's now morphed into snow globe, santa on a polar bear, frosty the snowman, Thomas the train and a Christmas tree. I have been cobbling together staging every holiday season, with whatever lumber is left over from all the projects over the course of the year. My neighbor is a structural engineer , after last seasons display. he commented to me that he couldn't figure out what was holding my display up. Various theory's come to mind osmosis, the holiday spirit? I don't know.
This year I decided to build purpose built staging. I wanted a 4'x8' platform for the snow-globe and a 4'x16' platform for the rest of the toys.
17- 2x4's @8' whatever 2x4 is the least expensive, My local Borg (Home Depot) has mystery white wood KD 2x4's cheap
7- 8' landscape ties or peeler poles.
3- 4'x8' sheets of 5/8's OSB (or plywood) chances are it will get wrecked in the weather. but it seems like I always have another project that can use even wrecked OSB, this will go into my new hydroponic system.
3" and 1.5" deck screws (I used less than a pound each)
Chop Saw, radial arm saw, or circular saw
Earth auger, post hole digger or a couple of helpers to hold up the posts while you attach the framing.
Cordless impact driver or screw gun (highly recommend the impact driver)
8" C clamp, bar clamp or helper to hold up the end of the boards.
Step 1: Drill the Holes and Set the Posts
Lay out your site. Some people find it helpful to use string and stakes to mark the holes for the posts. I prefer to eyeball everything. The top stage for the snow-globe is 4'x8' I set my posts to accommodate the width of the plywood. I drilled about 1 foot deep with my 6" earth auger. I bought the auger bit from Harbor Freight and since HF does not sell the gas power head for the auger in California. I machined a 1' extension made from a 5/8' bolt and a piece of 3/4 pipe to fit my Milwaukee 1/2" man killer drill. The post holes simply hold the poles in place while the framing is built, backfill the holes with dirt tamping as you go. It also helps to keep the stage from sliding down the hill. If you were building this on flat ground, you can skip the holes and use a helper to hold posts up while you frame
Step 2: Frame the Stages
The frame is made up entirely of 2x4's screwed to the posts. start by going post to post in the 4' direction 4" below your finish height, you can use a level on top of a 2x4x8' to get everything level. then add 2x4's on top of these running in the long direction the outboard 2x4 is screwed to the posts add blocking between the long 2x4's on top of the first part of the framing. I want this frame to be strong enough to hold me up while I'm setting up the display. So I added diagonal braces to keep the whole structure from racking, you only need 2 per structure. Lay your plywood down and set up your toys.
Enjoy Your Holidays!!