How do I Put Together Lighting Truss?

lighting basics truss Jan 12, 2023

I remember my first job in lighting clearly.

I was working as a tech/laborer for a small, rural lighting company near my hometown.  I had no idea what is I was doing, and to top it off, my boss wasn’t too concerned with a few “minor details”, such as how to bolt together lighting truss.  My early habits were quickly challenged as I moved on to a bigger production company and learned “you don’t just bolt it together”.  I wanted to bring you this quick tip which to offers both aesthetic and safety improvements to the method I learned as a teenager.

As we get into this, there are 2 types of truss, and I write this from a US-based point of view.  There is bolted truss, and pinned truss, which in the US is often "DJ style" lighter-weight truss.  DJ-style truss can work great for lighter-duty uses, but is has the BIG disadvantage that you cannot put all the pins in a horizontal truss while it sits on the ground, you have to turn it.  Works fine on shorter runs, but in the professional world you often run into 100'+ long runs of truss...and nobody wants to turn that whole thing!

How to Put Together Bolt Truss

 The first step of putting together truss involves laying out the pieces you are going to bolt together, in the layout you desire.  This serves 2 important purposes. 1) You won’t have to move it once it’s one huge piece, or at least not far and 2) you can make the laces line up.

The what?

As you may know, lighting trussing has chords and laces.  The chords are the long pipes that define the corners of the truss, and the laces are the zig-zaggies that go between them, providing the triangulation that disperses weight.  The laces always need to line up across the different pieces of truss in a given span to properly distribute the weight.  If your truss has laces on 2 sides, they need to be facing out, with the more open sides facing up and down.

Always make sure to consult your truss manufacturers truss weighting tables and verify that the load you are hanging is within spec for the span of truss you are using.  Don’t ever forget cable weight, and do not do any rigging if you are not 200% qualified.  Rigging is far too dangerous, and people die each year when amateurs rig.  If you have any doubts, hire a pro.  

How to Use Bolts

Now that you’ve got your truss together, you may move along to bolting/pinning/spigotting your truss together.  Bolts need to be grade 8 rated and meet the size recommended by your manufacturer(probably 5/8″, with a 15/16″ socket).  All bolts in a span of truss must face the same direction, and truss uprights need to have the bolts on top, nuts on bottom.  

When you are tightening the bolts, always wrench down with your ratchet from the nut side, and only turn a few cranks past firm.  If you over-tighten your bolts you risk damaging or even breaking them.

If you are using spigot or pin truss, you simply need to get everything lined up and the pins through so that the safety pins can be latched.  This may take a gentle touch with a hammer to the pins, but not the truss.  We have a full video on that, here! The spigots and pins typically only go together one way, so if the pin isn't close to going all the way through the truss, something is probably spun around backwards.

Remember that any time you are bolting truss, safety is of the highest importance.  This is not a subject to be taken lightly.

That’s it!  After this, you should have a completely bolted truss, ready to build an upright, arch, or be flown by a professional rigger.


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