Model railroad benchwork is designed and built to fit your custom track plan. The very first thing to do is to develop an attitude that any framework you build now will be altered at a later time. Construct your foundation using wood screws so that it can be easily disassembled.
For any layout, large or small, the optimum height should be near eye level. Most benchwork is constructed at a height of 42” to 48”. Not only is this the best level to view the railroad, but the under table wiring will be much easier to install and maintain. All of this is relative to how you plan to operate your railroad. If you intend to run your trains while you are seated then you will have to adjust the layout height to accommodate this.
Choose a good grade of lumber and sheet wood. Avoid those discounted specials which may be warped and full of knotholes. It will be worth the time to inspect each plank and pick the best pieces. Buy more than you think you will need and follow the old advice of measure twice and cut once. Lumber sizes are not as advertised-the 1”x4” boards that I buy at Home Depot actually measure ¾” x 3 ½”. This won’t matter much when building framework but you should be aware of it.
Do not nail anything. Only use glue as a last resort. I use drywall screws almost exclusively since they are less expensive and don’t require countersinks when used with pine. Drill pilot holes when needed, especially with smaller wood sizes, to prevent splitting.
Plan the size and shape of the model railroad benchwork carefully. The construction of a small tabletop layout is fairly simple and easy to build but may have problems relative to access. For example, a 4’ x 8’ layout in the middle of a small room has access to any part of the surface but will have problems when placed in a corner of the room. The length of reach for an average person is 24” to 30 “.Large layouts should have aisles and access areas included where necessary. A large around-the-walls layout will require planning for a removable or swing section for access into the operations area.
Minimum tools needed are: carpenters level, tape measure, screwdrivers, drill, saw, wood clamps, and keyhole saw.
Better tools are: power screwdriver, power drill, circular saw, saber saw, power sander, plane, large files, chisels, and any other tool that makes the construction faster or easier.
All benchwork construction should proceed in the following manner:
(1.)-create a benchwork plan.
(2.)-build the leg or support assemblies.
(3)-assemble the basic framework.
(4)-attach leg or support assembly to frame.
(5)-attach cross braces to benchwork.
Once the supporting assembly is completed, we will go through the step-by-step process to add risers roadbed, and other items.