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I'm building a toy theatre out of wood and I want it to be easily disassemblable for packing down. If the front and sides are basically flat planes of wood meeting at an edge:

enter image description here

(top down view, walls in blue, possible attachment points in green)

what kind of quick-release fastening is there which I could screw on either the inside or outside (inside preferred) which would hold these side together reasonable well? They wouldn't have to hold against much torque.

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    How 'bout standard door hinges? Then just remove the pin to separate the two sections.
    – SteveSh
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 12:06
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    is the extra bit on the bottom wall necessary? (if not, it packs down more easily without it)
    – njzk2
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 21:31
  • How "quick" does "quick release" need to be?
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 14:41

8 Answers 8

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Bed rail fasteners would be easy to assemble/disassemble and durable.

bed rail fastener Photo from Amazon.

Not a recommendation: amazon linky

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Instead of disassembling the toy theatre, I would attach the sides with (piano)hinges. That way you can fold them in to create a flat package for storage.

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    + 1 Hinges are how lots of professional sets on large scale musicals and shows are built. Source: myself, working and designing in the industry for 15+ years Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 23:58
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    This is by far the very best solution. Years and years ago my mom used to make puppets and do puppet theater shows. I built her a table top "theatre" with a larger front face that had the opening with a curtain. Two side panels were hinged to the front face each with a width that was slightly narrower than the front so that they could be folded back flat against the front panel. In use the side panels were hinged out at an angle of about 45 to 60 degrees from the front so that the theatre was self standing on the table top.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 4:46
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    @Criggie Duct tape will dry out and fail leaving messy residue in a relatively short period. Gaffers tape - what you'll see people use to ex tape wires to carpet at concerts - is better on that front but will eventually fail the same way. If you always remember to change the tape out before it goes bad it might be an OK option; if not you'll eventually end up with a nasty mess on your hands. Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 12:46
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    Gaffer tape, if left long enough, will leave a nasty, sticky mess, too. Personal experience
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 14:47
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    @Criggie and I intended to replace the tape I made an apparently permanent mess with reasonably soon after installation (I even ordered the proper sealing material from Amazon that day); I just never got around to it. Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 19:06
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Loose Pin Hinge

The loose pin hinge will probably be your best friend, here. How good you want them to be will likely depend on how often the set will be used, and whether you plan on pulling them off and using them on new sets.

Avoid buying from theatrical supply places, they charge way too much. And/or avoid buying from non-theatrical supply places, their hinges won't be up to snuff.

You can also, perhaps much cheaper, create something similar with eyelets and rebar. Or taking regular hinges and replacing the pins. Or if you work in a school, the people in shop can likely whip something up for you.

As well as tear-down, the hinging can also allow for sets to be folded or rotated to one side, making for a super-fast set change.

A brace on the inner, concave angle can provide some extra rigidity and keep the leaves from folding together while in use. If that side's facing the audience, you can have the brace be a matte black stick across the top, with holes either end to slot onto bolts sticking up from top of the flat.

Generally speaking, though, this is likely over-engineering for a short run, and G-clamps are the way to go.

via https://www.gerriets.com/us/triple-e-loose-pin-hinge (via via https://www.gerriets.com/us/triple-e-loose-pin-hinge)

via https://www.theatrecrafts.com/pages/home/topics/scenic-stage-design/flats-types-methods/ (via via https://www.theatrecrafts.com/pages/home/topics/scenic-stage-design/flats-types-methods/)

via https://www.musson.com/loose-pin-hinges.html (via via https://www.musson.com/loose-pin-hinges.html)

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You might consider something like these cam latches for the outside attachment point. These things are the epitome of quick-release. Cam latches

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Cam lock furniture fittings - Ikea style flat pack furniture uses them a lot.

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    Nice bit of self-promotion there ;-)
    – psmears
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 9:27
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    My experience with IKEA cam locks is that they work maybe 2-3 times before they completely destroy themselves, often leaving stray bits of metal which make it very difficult to reuse the holes. They were not meant for frequent disassembly/reassembly. I've bought replacement parts from the local hardware stores (Home Depot/Lowes) that seem to work better, IF they're perfectly lined up with the original IKEA parts, which they often aren't. Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 14:23
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C clamp

clamp

Easy peasy. You probably already have some. Once clamped into place draw a red line across all pieces on one side and then a blue line across all pieces on the other side. When you or the kids want to put it back together, assemble the red line pieces and the blue line pieces and clamp each in place.

The clamps will show. That is ok.

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When using modular panels for an art trade show, we had the free standing sections attached with a "hook-style concealed panel lock" aka "coffin-lock."

Very sturdy, draws the panels together, uses an allen-wrench key system for assembly/disassembly. Virtually invisible (only the hole for the key is visible). Requires mortise.

screencap via wikipedia

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Dowels would be a simple method.

Then screws just to lock in place.

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    You might want to expand on this a bit... I'm having a hard time envisioning how this is going to work. Also, not everyone considers screws "quick release", though it isn't really difficult to back out a screw.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 12:18

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