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Model Railroad Benchwork Planning and Building Ideas

The model railroad benchwork is the supporting structure to which the model railroad track will be attached to. Therefore, it could be as simple as a piece of plywood that is attached to a table or complex with elaborate details. If you are new to this build, we will help guide you through the process so you can create the benchwork you want. Planning is crucial at this stage so you know what tools and materials you need to realize your design.

Planning Your Model Railroad Benchwork

Your skill level will determine how simple or elaborate the design will be. If you have woodwork experience and carpentry skills, you can choose complex designs. If not, stick with the basic design. Also, budget is another factor you must take into account, such as the cost of the materials for your build.

It is also a good idea to have finalized your track plan before you start the build. Draw it out on a grid paper while taking into account the platform measurements for the model railroad benchwork. Use a scale that works best for you. For example, use 1 inch measurements on your trackplan for every foot of measurement on the actual build. This will give you a loose estimate of the final measurements for the actual size of your benchwork.

Considerations Prior to Building

To guide you in the building process, here are some considerations you must make:

  • What is the type of configuration – loop to loop or point to point?
  • How many levels of trains do you want?
  • Where will you build your benchwork?
  • How much aisle space do you need?
  • Will there be access areas?
  • How deep is the layout
  • Is the benchwork portable?
  • How large will the entire benchwork be?
  • Will you be expanding it in the future?
  • How high will the platform be?

With these questions considered, you can make alterations to the initial design of your build. You can move on to the next step when everything is good at this point.

Building the Model Railroad Benchwork

There are three primary elements that will make up the model railroad benchwork:

  1. Supporting structure
  2. Platform
  3. Subroadbed

If you are new to building a model railroad benchwork, it is best to keep it simple. Plywood is the best material to work with because it is easily available. Place it over a table for added support. The L-girder method is one of the best options for those looking for a sturdy yet inexpensive benchwork supporting structure. Use two boards and attach them together on a cross-section to create the L-shaped form. This method gives your supporting structure considerable strength. Nowadays, you can find several modular and pre-cut wooden kits that you can assemble at home (to save you time from sawing and drilling).

Building Model railroad benchwork

Once you have built the supporting structure, you need to work on the platform. You must also use a thick platform for this and it must extend at least a couple of inches from the edge of the supporting structure. You can add molding finishing to the edge of the plywood.

The subroadbed is where the train track is laid. Most builders use homasote as the material for the subroadbed; however, a better alternative is to use numerous sheets of insulating extruded foam. This is available in most hardware stores and all you have to do is glue them together. If you want to add scenery details such as valleys, mountains, or lakes, simply cut out their shapes from the foam.

With this done, your model railroad benchwork is complete. You can now move on to the next and more exciting part of the process – laying your model railroad track!

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