In November 2013, I worked on a volunteer project for a local school revamping their library.  One of the many requests was to give them “a stage, you know like the one they have at Barnes & Noble”.  Honestly, I didn’t think the stage would make it into the design since both the budget and timeline were very tight.  Well, they got that stage!  But it’s not “like the one they have at Barnes & Noble”!  It came out so good, that I thought I’d share with you how we did it.

I know you must be thinking “why would I ever want to build a stage?  I mean who does that?!”

You’d be surprised.  If you have a budding little starlet or rock star, she’d probably love a little stage action in her playroom.  No playroom?  No problem.  A smaller stage in the bedroom can be multi-functional; it could be:

  • a dedicated reading nook (with carpet)
  • a play area
  • an artist’s corner (with sheet vinyl flooring for easy cleaning)
  • a craft center
  • even a dedicated workspace

Now that you’re thinking about it, read on to learn…

How to Build a Stage

These instructions are for a small semi-circular stage approximately 6′ wide and 4′ long at the center.


  • 6 2x4x8 lumber
  • 1 1x4x8 sheet of plywood
  • 2″ or 2 1/2″ #10 flat head wood screws (this is really important)
  • 1 1/4″ finishing nails
  • tape measure
  • level
  • Makeshift oversized compass

clamp (or clothespin or binder clip)

  • drill (or a screwdriver and lots of patience)
  • jigsaw
  • table or miter saw (or a hand saw and guide block; I don’t recommend this though)
  • sawhorse (2 or more)
  • sander (you could use sandpaper or sanding block + elbow grease but I don’t recommend it)
  • nailer (or a hammer and a steady hand; again I don’t recommend it)
  • wood putty/filler
  • acrylic paint & multiple brushes in varying sizes (these can be sponge or bristle brushes)
  • polyurethane
  • white vinyl wall base
  • 1 1/2″ L brackets (for securing to the wall)
  • a small child (for testing – uhm, maybe just use an adult)

Build the stage:

  1.  Using your trusty oversized compass, “measure” out and mark the semicircle on the plywood.  Adjust it as necessary to get the exact shape and dimensions needed.
  2.  With the wood resting on sawhorses, cut out the semicircle with the jigsaw.  Make sure you cut on the OUTSIDE of your markings, if not dead on.  You can always take more off later.
  3.  Sand the rough edges.  You can also fix minor cutting errors during this step.
  4.  Measure and place the 2×4’s. Mark their placement on the plywood semicircle.
  5.  Mark (or measure) the length to cut each 2×4 while they are still in place on the plywood.  Twice.

* Decorator’s Note:  you can lay the 2×4 or either the 2″ side or the 4″ side depending on how high you want the stage to be.

  1.  Cut the 2×4’s to length using the table or miter saw.
Build a stage - steps 1-4 Building the stage

This next part was a little tricky and I have to admit that we cheated on it.

  1.  Layout the cut 2×4’s the same as you did in step 4, except on the ground or your work surface.  Grab your building buddy – I used my DH – and carefully place the plywood over the 2×4’s realigning as needed.
  2.  Drill pilot holes in the 2×4’s about 4-6″ apart.  Attach the 2×4’s to the plywood with the wood screws.  Totally unorthodox – 1 of us stood atop the stage while the other drilled the holes.  DON’T YOU DO IT!
    • This is where it is really important to use flat head screws so that they sit just below what will be the surface of the stage.
  3. Fill the screw holes with wood filler.  When dry, sand the whole surface smooth.
  4.  Quality control (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP) – get a brave kid adult to walk, sit, lay, and jump on the stage (if they haven’t already).  No injuries?  Great job!  Next up…

Customize the Stage:

  1.  Get your artist son or husband to sketch a design for you.  Then have him transfer the design freehand onto the top of stage.
Sketching the Mascot Sketching the mascot

Paint the Stage:

Finishing touches:

Once we got the stage in place, I finished outlining the mascot in black.  When it was dry I put a coat of polyurethane over the whole thing.

Then I added the vinyl wall base by nailing it into the plywood every 6″ or so an into each 2×4.  Cover any visible nailheads with white caulk.

Use the L-bracket to secure the stage to the wall if you want it to be totally stationary.


Storytime StageFinished Stage

Want to see the entire project? Have a look here.

Storytime area of library Preschoolers’ Storytime Space

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