After you and your model train layout get kicked out of the dining room and relegated to the basement or garage, you will begin to realize that you need a table (or bench work as it is also known) to put your layout on. This can be an intimidating part of the process for some people. If you are handy with a saw and hammer and used to working with wood, this probably won’t faze you, but if not…well read on.
Bench work for model trains can be made of various materials, and be of various sizes. A table for an N-scale layout can obviously be much smaller and lighter than bench work for an O-scale train system. The expanse of the scenery will also dictate the size of the table. Since scenery is generally made of light materials, it generally will not dictate materials of construction or how sturdy your table needs to be. The weight of the train and track will generally help you specify that.
Do you go to train shows to show off your layouts? If so, you may want a portable table that you can take with you. That may just mean ensuring that the legs are collapsible and that the size is such that it can fit your vehicle. But it also may mean that you need to build the bench in sections that can be bolted together and taken apart as needed.
Commercial bench kits are also available to buy if you have the extra cash or don’t want to take the time to build your own. As with everything else, they come in a range of sizes, prices and quality so be sure to do your research before parting with your hard earned money. You get what you pay for.
Not a woodworking expert? You probably know at least one, if you think about it. Ask for their help to build the bench in return for you teaching them about something you are expert in – model trains perhaps? If you don’t know someone, you could look on Craig’s list or in the newspaper for a handyman or out of work carpenter. If you go this route, you will need to have a pretty good idea of what you want ahead of time including the size, shape, height, materials, etc. because you will want to get a quote up front and to give you a price, they will need to know what they are going to build.
Access to your train is another consideration. For larger layouts, you will not be able to reach the entire track from the outside edges of your table. You may need to ensure that there are access holes in the center of your table so that you can crawl under and pop up to get to those middle sections of your layout. Another area you need access to is tunnels. While you can put access holes in the sides of your scenery to enable you to reach into the tunnel in case of a derailment, you might want to think of having these access holes beneath the tunnel to make them less visible.
So don’t just go out and buy a folding table at Wal-Mart to use for your model train table or you will probably be disappointed. Take some time and give it some thought and create a table that will last.
Article courtesy of “The Enthusists Guide to Model Trains”