Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Let's cut some wood


Okay, now that I have the track plan for Philden set in concrete, its time to turn my plans into reality and make a trip to my local Bunnings store to buy the timber I need to get started. Building a shelf layout traditionally can be as simple as gluing some plywood to some support batons and fixing it to some brackets on a wall, but I'm not only going to make this layout free-standing, I'm also going to make it fully enclosed, and finish it to look like a museum quality exhibit.

Measure twice, cut once. An old saying but still so very true.

When it comes to building a model railway, nothing beats the excitement of sawing into that first piece of wood. But the words of my old wood work teacher from more than 25 years ago still ring in my ears; "measure twice, cut once." So arriving back from Bunnings with 2 x 2.4 metre lengths of 64x19mm pine, 3 x 1.2 metre lengths of 42x19mm pine and a sheet of 1200x600 9mm plywood, I got to work cutting all the wood necessary for the layout frame.

Oops, looks like its measure three times, cut twice as I factor in the strip wood framing that will hold the perspex.

I decided to build this layout with good old-fashioned hand tools, only bringing out my power drill to be sure all my holes are drilled correctly, and also because the last hand drill ever made is probably by now behind a glass display case somewhere in a museum. Getting to work on the concrete floor of my garage, I soon cut 2 lengths of the 64x19mm pine at 1840mm long, partly because the 3mm MDF sheeting that I will use for the background comes in 1830x900 sheets, but mainly because it is as close to 6 foot as I cared to stuff around with.

The end sections are cut to 322mm and will screw to the outside of the 1840mm lengths.

From here the simple way to complete the board to a width of 300mm is to deduct 38mm (2 thicknesses of 19mm pine), cut the end sections and support braces to a length of 262mm then nail the ply on top, and Bob's your Uncle you have a completed layout section. Without compromising my 300mm layout width however, I needed to factor in 3mm on each side for perspex and MDF sheeting and an extra 8mm on each side for some strip wood framing that will make them both removable. So I cut my 4 support braces at 285mm long. My end lengths however will screw flush to the outside of the 1840mm lengths (as shown above) so that the side backdrops don't eat into the total length of my layout space. I cut the 2 end lengths at 322mm long.

Now we're getting somewhere. Lining up all the pieces to see how they will fit.

Last of all, I cut the timber sections I needed for end frames of the layout. Remember how I said this was a bookshelf layout? Well, being free-standing, I've first got to make it look like a bookshelf. This layout however, is also being built to travel. So you'll notice that I'm limiting the layout height to just 300mm. The reason is simple; if my wife and I decide to hit the road in a caravan to work our way around Australia in the coming year or so, the layout has to fit into the tunnel boot of a modern caravan in order to come too. I've measured and they all seem to be at least 320mm high including the LED light fixtures that are fitted inside. The end frames will also hold a support beam for the clear perspex top to complete the layout.

This is where it gets interesting, building a box frame for the end sections.

I cut the 4 risers needed for the end frames at 194mm long from leftover pieces of 42x19mm pine. On top, 2 lengths of 42x19mm pine were cut to 322mm long to match the end pieces for the base I cut earlier. It just looks neater when it is assembled, and the top and bottom end pieces will all have the grain facing the same way which will look great once the timber is stained. I then measured the inside of the frame and cut 2 squares from the leftover section of 9mm plywood. The end frames will later be lined with 3mm MDF board on the inside to match in with the backdrop. Before it is assembled however, I'll also cut a small door at rail height that I'll later attach with hinges to become the access door for the tracks leading to some detachable staging. When closed, the door will be mirror-lined to make the tracks look like they continue off somewhere in the distance.

I simply cut two sections to fit inside the end box frames from leftover 9mm plywood.

With the wood I bought from Bunnings, all I had left over on my garage floor was a handful of small off-cuts and that lovely smell of freshly cut pine hanging in the air. The trip to Bunnings took longer than it did for me to cut everything ready to assemble. A quick rub on the ends of each section using some good old-fashioned sandpaper and a cork sanding block, position it all together to ensure everything fits, then pack it away for when I'm ready to drill, glue and screw everything together. But that's a story for another day.

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Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil