Okay, now that it's time to whack my layout frame together, it's important to think each step through before you just go drilling holes everywhere. The long sections of my model railway will have something very special added to them at a later date, so the last thing I want to be visible on these sides are unsightly screw holes. Drilling through the end sections however, will require a long 70 mm wood screw as it will thread into the grain of the timber. So it is very important to keep the drill bit dead-straight when drilling the holes.
|Before nailing the support braces in place, I need to know where the 2 plywood sections would meet, so that the join would be supported by one of them.|
After countersinking the end holes, I line up 2 centre support braces by working out where 2 sections of my pre-cut plywood sheeting will meet. Having cut them from a sheet of 1200 x 600 ply, I have 1 x 1200 x 300 mm section and 1 x 600 x 300 mm section to make up the 1.8 metre long layout. So I position the support braces at 600 and 1200 mm, and pre-drill the holes for 2 nails to go into each side so as to be less conspicuous than unsightly screw holes. The other 2 support braces will then be screwed to the inside of the end sections.
|A first look at my newly assembled 1.8 metre long (6 foot) x 30 cm wide (1 foot) layout frame.|
I tend to overkill things a little when I'm building a layout, even one as small as this. My past mentality has always been to build something that's strong enough to stand on. As such I use a caulking gun and a tube of Maxi Nails to glue the pieces of timber together, and while the glue is still wet I nail the 2 centre support braces together then screw the end sections into place. Finally I screw the other 2 support braces into place on the inside of my newly assembled frame until I end up with the finished result shown above.
|Adding the book-end sections to the layout which will later support the backdrop and clear perspex lid.|
Next up, it is time to add the book-end frames to the layout board. If you remember, these will not only make my layout look like a stand-alone bookshelf, but they will more importantly support the backdrop and the clear perspex front and top panels of the layout to make it completely enclosed and dust-free, (see my previous post Let's cut some wood).
|Tap the dowel joints firmly into place using a hammer and a piece of off-cut to avoid bruising the timber.|
The top section is pre-drilled, countersunk, glued and screwed into position again using 70 mm wood screws drilled into the grain of the support risers. Only I cannot drill through the underside of the 64 mm wide end section to attach the end frames to the layout. Sinking a 40 mm deep countersunk hole for the screw to pass through would compromise the strength of the timber when I later drill a hole to mount the legs to this section of the layout frame. As I said earlier, I'm wanting to avoid drilling screw or bolt holes into the front sections of my model railway, otherwise the leg holes could just be drilled through the front sections of timber. So that means using a dowel joint, something I haven't done since wood work class in high school. I used 7 mm dowel drilled into 19 mm thick timber, so that doesn't leave a lot of room for error. Get this wrong and the end frames will sit as crooked as a dog's back leg.
|All right, let's get the ply glued to the layout frame.|
With the end frames glued firmly into place, I can finally fix the plywood to the layout frame. Now I know I'm only using 9 mm ply when most people would choose at least 12 mm or greater, but the layout section is only a foot wide. When glued and nailed onto a strong section of framework, 9 mm ply with a support braces spaced 600 mm apart will prove strong enough to sit on without even a hint of movement.
|Checking the spacing needed for when I later add the backdrop and front section of clear perspex. Otherwise you could simply build this so that the plywood sits flush to the layout edge.|
|Now my model railway is beginning to take shape.|
With the plywood base now positioned perfectly, I use a nail punch to belt each nail beneath the surface of the layout base. This ensures that nothing gets in the way once I start laying track and building my model railway scenery on top. But we're not quite reading to start laying track just yet. Next up I'm going to show you how I'll add a removable and reversible backdrop that makes the layout possible to be viewed from both sides.
See also; Let's build reversible backdrops