Model Railroad Benchwork
Model railroad benchwork can be constructed using different methods. Some methods are better than others. For small layouts, tables made from ¾” plywood and supported by 2x2 or 2x4 legs are fine. Model railroad benchwork for larger layouts is constructed by using 1x4 pine boards screwed together to form a grid work usually 16” x 16”. This type of model railroad benchwork is also supported much the same way as the plywood table style. Then you add 1x3 diagonal braces for the legs as needed to hold everything solid. Remember, in an earlier article, we discussed the ideal height for your model railroad benchwork as being 36” to 42” off the floor. Constructing this type of model railroad benchwork has some definite advantages over the table style. For larger model railroads the vertical boards of the grid allow you to attach riser boards virtually anywhere you need them. These riser boards will support the sub-roadbed plywood that your track work will be mounted to. We will dicuss sub-roadbed plywood a little later in this article. The riser boards can follow a gradual rise and fall to form elevation changes in your track work. You can add riser boards to support buildings, scenery and many other items on your model railroad benchwork. You can also create specific size and shaped openings as drop down areas to form lake beds and river or stream beds. Your model railroad benchwork can also include lift out sections for access to hidden track work or staging yards. Another type of model railroad benchwork utilizes the grid girder support system as the base. The sub-roadbed is constructed from thin strips of plywood, usually ¼”, that are curved into the turns and elevation changes of your layout and then glued together. The plywood strips are usually ripped 1” to 2” wide and glued together on edge to form a laminated board. The more laminations, the wider the roadbed. Model railroad benchwork that utilizes this method is very strong. These roadbed units can be made as long as you want by staggering the end joints of the laminations. These sections can then be mounted to the grid support system by using riser boards as needed to follow your track plan. This form of track sub-roadbed can span greater distances between the riser supports, thus simplifying your model railroad benchwork. As stated a few sentences back, now we can take a look at the plywood sub-roadbed method. This method of model railroad benchwork utilizes ½’ plywood for the sub-roadbed. This is great because you now can use up all those odd shaped scrape pieces of plywood that you’ve been saving. It doesn’t matter what size and shape they are. Lay the scraps over the grid girder base then map out your track plan in pencil on the scraps and then cut the sections out with your sabre saw. Keep in mind that plywood has more strength with the grain rather than across the grain. Fit the sections together, kind of like a puzzle, and then install riser boards underneath to achieve your desired height and angle. Using riser boards on model railroad benchwork , to mount everything to your grid girder base, enables you to unfasten them, here and there as needed, to make adjustments in location, height and angle and then refasten them. This way your model railroad, sub-roadbed, will be flat, straight and strong.