What Should You Consider Before Building Your Model Train Bench?

model train
When you first become interested in model trains, it is easy to fall into the trap of rushing to lay down track and skipping the full planning process.
As a general rule, it is always best to design your track layout before you start creating the real thing. You will need to plan not only the model train track, but also elevations, buildings, mountains and any other landscape details.
Without a proper plan you won’t have accurate measurements to begin building the bench that your model train layout will sit on.
Think of it as though you were building a house; without the correct foundations, the whole thing will fall down.
Work from the bottom up.
The most important foundation for your model train plan is the bench.
The room you choose to create your bench in should be completely ready to house your model train layout.
Model trains are no small thing!
Check the lighting and condition of the room, as well as planning, how you will manage the layout once it is set up.
Try not to back the bench into a corner, unless it is shallow enough for you to reach the furthest corner. A large layout may require a hole in the center of your bench.
This allows you to reach everything around you as you stand in the hole.
Think long term.
The main supporting structure can be on whatever scale you please.
A complete novice may wish to opt for a smaller, simpler layout and therefore requires a smaller bench. However, as your interest and expertise in model trains grows, so will your layout ambitions.
A sheet of plywood on the top of a table or work bench is a great way to start your model train hobby.
Alternatively, a solid built bench makes the perfect foundation for a complex track plan. There are two options available to you if you wish to build the bench; build it from scratch or buy a pre-cut and drilled kit to put together simply and quickly.
Starting from scratch, you will need to make a base, which will support the platform for your layout.
It is fairly simple to do, if you have the right tools and a substantial amount of patience.
By creating two, strong L-shaped beams, using the L-girder method, a frame can be put together quite quickly.
Once you have the two beams, attach them parallel to one another, using two more lengths of plywood.
This rectangular frame can then be set on supporting legs. Ensure the entire supporting structure is firmly attached and you are ready to move on.
Not everyone is good at woodworking. So, you may wish to buy a kit and simply set it up in your own home.
This allows you to choose a pre-cut and drilled, technically accurate bench that saves time. Depending on your skills and tools, it is certainly an easier option to buy a kit.
The basic bench can then have a platform added to it. Use a thick sheet of plywood for a platform to lay your track on.
Whether you choose to lay your track and build the landscape around the layout, or vice versa, is entirely up to you. Some of the experienced model railroaders will tell you that you should create your landscape and elevations before laying your track.
I prefer laying the track first and then adding the landscape.
It is a personal preference.
Whether you are a complete beginner or a model train expert, every model train layout should have a sturdy, well-built bench.
Take the time to plan before you start building; it will save valuable time when you get to the exciting part of laying of the track.

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Dan Morgan

Dan Morgan fell in love with model trains at the age of six when he visited an NMRA Convention in Seattle with his father. Forty two years later, his passion remains just as strong. After achieving a successful career in architecture, Dan’s particular interest is within layouts and buildings. With a wealth of knowledge on the subject, Dan loves nothing more than sharing this with others and is delighted in the forum of members who are brought together over the hobby they have in common. Dan lives with his wife Helen in Washington. As a professional painter, Helen has learnt through Dan about Model Trains and they now enjoy working on projects together. The only member of the family who isn’t allowed to join in is their over-enthusiastic Labrador called William who has been strictly banned from the workshop! You can find Dan on Google here!

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