Introduction: Build a Diorama Set

Our makerspace the Rabbit Hole wants to set up a diorama to do a stop motion video.  Each of our members want to work on the background.  We decided the easiest way to do this was to build a stage in sections.  We plan to put these stage sections on an 8 foot table when complete.  Each of our members can work on their own 12 inch section of the stage, without bumping in to each other.

This instructable details how we built the stage for our diorama.  We hope it inspires someone else to do something equally cool.

Material needed:
  • Plywood, for this example we reused two 8 foot sections of plywood that were laying around.  One section 24 inches wide, and one 15 inches wide.
  • Several pieces of scrap 2x4 lumber.
  • Coarse wood screws (approximately 40 screws needed for this project)

Tools used:
  • Circular saw
  • Tape measure
  • Two clamps
  • Two drills works very well, one to drill pilot holes and the other to drive the screws in.
  • Pencil to mark measurements

Step 1: Cut the Boards

  1. Overlap the two 8 foot plywood sections.  Do this so each of the plywood section's widths are matched when the cuts are made.  Put scrap 2x4 under the plywood so the circular saw blade does not touch the ground.

  2. Mark off the sections in the widths that you would like to cut.  Use a square to draw a straight line for the saw to follow.  In this example the square was not long enough so I measured twice from each side and drew the line from both sides.

  3. Measure your circular saw to see how far the blade is from the right most side of the guard.  The Craftsman circular saw blade I used was one and 1/4 inch from the guard. 
  4. Clamp a straight piece of wood to the plywood at your desired length + guard distance as a guide board.  This guide will keep the circular saw cutting a straight line.  The guide in this example was 13.25 inches from the last cut.  Measure from two sides of the board to get the guide straight.
  5. Side the circular saw along the guide board to make a straight cut.  Make sure the 2x4s are not in the way of the blade.

  6. When the piece is cut repeat the steps to cut the rest of the material.

You can watch a time-lapsed video of me cutting the boards on our video posted here.

Step 2: Cut the Supports

We decided the sections of our diorama are going to be supported by 2x4s, so we had room under the base of the stage.

We had lots of 2x4s left over from other projects, that we reused.  The boards were all different lengths and some needed to be cut.

Cut the 2x4s on a chop saw to the length of the base.  In this example the stage base was 24 inches long.  We did not have enough 2x4 stock for one 24 inch board on each base section.  Some of the stage sections have shorter support boards. 

A few boards were only 40 inches in length so cutting one 24 inches would leave the remainder 16 inches (uneven).  Instead, split the difference and cut them at 20 inches each so each side would match.  Since these boards are used for support the length is not that important.

Step 3: Assemble the Sections

To assemble the stage sections we used coarse wood screws.  These screws would split plywood and might split the 2x4 supports.  To avoid splitting boards we drilled pilot holes.  We used 2 drills for this project.  It was handy to have one drill set up with the 5/32 drill bit and the other drill set up with the Phillips head bit, so we didn't have to switch the bits during construction.

  1. Make the support boards flush with the rear of the stage. 
  2. Drill the pilot holes in the four corners of the base.
  3. Screw in the wood screws to secure the base to the supports (4 screws).
  4. Flip the assembly up and place the backing board where you want. 
  5. Drill the pilot holes for the backing board into the support.
  6. Screw in the backing board (2 screws).
Each of the stage pieces are assembled at this point.  We will use this stage in an upcoming project.  Be sure to check our makerspace group page for all the instructables on this project.

See our finished product a stop motion animation movie at