Lightweight Acting Cubes
5 Steps
Often in the theater, we need light, durable, modular set pieces. However, getting all three of these things together can be very difficult. Our company solved this problem by filling in the blanks in a .PDF we found on the internet.

For this project you will need:

-Tape measure, straight edge, and a permanent marker
-Sheets of 4x8, 2" thick insulating foam, available at your local big box home improvement store.
-Sheets of 4x8, 1/4" thick luan, also available at your local big box home improvement store.
- Gaff tape, or other all-weather, all-temperature, all-purpose tape
-Utility Knife
-Circular saw & saw horses
-Muslin
-Paint of your choice (we used flat black)

Note: You can substitute similar materials for the insulating foam, such as drop ceiling tiles, as long as it's light weight. Obviously you can also use a table saw to rip things down to size, but we are working in a pretty basic environment, and assume you are, too.

We made our cubes more or less 2" square, and we made six of them. Each sheet of insulation makes eight layers, and in our case it took 12 layers to make one cube. Since a cube has six faces, one sheet of luan for every cube. Simple, right?
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## Step 1: Cutting the insulating foam

Measure out the cube layers on the insulating foam using a tape measure, straight edge, and permanent marker. When you are satisfied with the size of the cubes and the straightness of your lines, use the utility knife to score the lines. Score as deeply and as straight as possible. Have a partner help you break the squares apart.

When you have broken out enough insulating foam, prepare the surfaces by making sure they are clean and clear of grit, dust, or dirt. Apply the Liquid Nails to the top of the bottom piece, and then carefully place the next piece of foam on top, repeating until you reach the desired height. Be sure to straighten up the edges as you go to keep the cube square. Do this with as many cubes as you like, and then allow them to cure for the length of time indicated on the adhesive.
chwbcc says: Aug 8, 2009. 12:49 PM
Drazzle Boxes!!! We used these all the time in our theater at college. Ours were a bit more durable as they were made of 1/4" plywood. They were also 5 sided so we could use the inside space, but we still covered them in foam and canvas for sound dampening, ease to paint and for safety. Great Instructable.
fritsie123 says: Oct 17, 2008. 12:53 PM
Why is there insulation foam in the boxes? The wooden exterior provides all the strenght, I think? And why are you gluing cotton fabric on the outside? Perhaps I don't understand what these are used for exactly. Could you please explain a bit more?
NorthFultonDramaClub (author) says: Oct 18, 2008. 7:20 AM
Sure. The luan would not be strong enough on its own to support the weight of the people you see goofing around with them in the pictures. The insulating foam is light, and when stacked together, strong, so it holds weight as well as a standard acting cube, which is usually smaller (plans I've seen and cubes I've used have been maybe 15" square). At a smaller size you can make a wooden skeleton and skin that is light enough to easily carry, but at the sizes we needed, standard cubes would be prohibitively heavy. The fabric is there to make them paintable and to prevent anything catching on the edges of the luan and pulling the sides off. They are used in theater, for set pieces. And, what shroud said. :)
fritsie123 says: Oct 19, 2008. 2:49 AM
Thanks for the explanation! I was wondering how strong this could be, but now I understand that the lamination of the two materials is what makes it strong enough. Using painted fabric on the outside is a particular clever trick, I think.
shroud says: Oct 17, 2008. 9:29 PM
Fritsie - I don't have any connection to the fine peope who posted this ible but I'll stick my neck out and answer your questions ( in reverse order.) 3. They are using these a platforms for a theatrical set. 2. The fabric serves as a strong base for paint similar to the way canvas is used in an oil painting. This method is particularly durable and scuff resistant and have been a standard method in theater for centuries. 1. The structural strength comes from the extruded styrene foam board and the 1/4" luan plywood being laminated together. Neither of these materials alone are particularly strong. The luan also provides puncture resistance, spreading out any impact force. Note: 1/4" luan by itself rates only slightly stronger than heavy cardboard but is excellent for this type of application. I tip my hat to the NorthFultonDramaClub... strong, lightweight, and cheap... What's not to love?
fritsie123 says: Oct 19, 2008. 2:51 AM
I didn't know these sort of cubes are used for theater and stage work. Now that I know that they are, it all makes a lot more sense! :) Thank you for your explanation!