The stability of a model train layout depends on the construction of the model railroad benchwork support and leg assemblies.

The benchwork support assembly determines the stability of a layout of any size. The absolute best method is to build the support using braces attached to a wall. This approach yields a considerable amount of storage space and makes it much easier to work under the layout. If you have an unfinished room with exposed studs, then this will be simple to do. However, if your room is finished, you will need to anchor 2” x 2” studs to the wall. Make sure the studs extend high enough if you intend to install a background later. One way to accomplish this is shown below.

Wall Support

If you intend to build either of the frames shown in benchwork for small layouts, you will need to begin by constructing the leg assemblies. The first step is to decide at what height you want to build your layout and design the benchwork supports for that measurement. Then gather the necessary lumber and cut it to the proper lengths. The lumber sizes that I have given in the illustrations are only suggestions-you may, for instance, choose to use 2”x4” studs for more stability. As an example, we will build leg assemblies for a layout with 42” clearance beneath the girders. Keep in mind that the dimensions used in the example may not be what you would use for your own construction.

The leg assemblies for the tabletop benchwork illustrated in benchwork for small layouts will consist of a pair of legs built to support a 4ft. x 8ft. layout at a height of 42” above the floor. Lumber requirements will be:

(4)—2” x 2” legs 42” long

(4)—1” x 2” cross braces-cut to length-approx. 4’ 10 ¾”

(2)—1” x 3” joists -3’ 10 ½” long

Table Leg Assembl

Begin the benchwork support assembly by attaching the 3’10 ½” joist to 2 of the 42” legs with one screw in each leg. A second screw will be added later. Make sure the joist is square and flush to the edge of each leg and add a cross brace. Turn the assembly over and add the other cross brace-check to ensure that everything is square and use 4 screws to attach the back brace. As shown in the drawing, each brace should reach from the top of one leg to a point just above the bottom of the other leg to give maximum stability to the construction. It is a good idea to drill pilot holes and countersink all attachment points to prevent the possibility of splitting the cross members.

Make two of these assemblies, and once you are satisfied that all is square, add the second screw to all joints that need them.

The second leg assembly is designed for an open-grid, L-girder type of benchwork and is shown below.

Grid Leg Assembl


The position of the L-girder is shown only to illustrate how it will be attached to both the benchwork support leg and joist. Build this support in the same manner as the one for the tabletop assembly. Check often during the construction for 90 degree angles between the joist and legs. The distance between the legs can be increased or decreased to fit your own design. The beauty of this arrangement is the ability to move both joists and L-girders to accommodate your track layout-more on this later.

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