Part 1.1: Modular Benchwork
Check out the video below to view the build process, and for more specific information scroll down the page. I included specific measurements and costings for the individual module.
And for the feet I used adjustable glides, I felt it was quite important to have feet on the bottom of each leg for a couple of reasons, one was to get the wood up of the ground to prevent moisture causing the wood to rot and secondly the garage floor has some uneven areas and I want to be able to level the table.
The total height of each module is 1206 millimeters, that's 47.5 Inches.
Each leg is 1140mm long and made using 30x30mm pine.
Obviously the legs are quite narrow so some sort of bracing is necessary, for that I've used 19x40mm pine cut to a length of 740mm. This proved sufficient enough to stabilize the module.
I chose not to glue the leg bracing in place opting for just screws, I want to be able to completely dismantle the legs in the future if need be.
Each module has a piece of plywood protecting the ends, this is the area most likely to sustain damage should I need to dismantle and move the modules around, for this I simply used Gorilla glue and clamps to adhere the plywood to the side of the module.
As you can see in the photo there are no screws holding it in place, just the glue.
I used 6mm ply cut 595mm x 145mm to fit snugly on the end of the module.
A potential weak spot for each module is the connection between the leg and the module itself, to prevent damage I decided to reinforce that area.
For this I used 89x19mm pine and cut two pieces, one 70mm long and the other 90mm long, that way when its glued and screwed into the corner it will be square.
I wanted the legs to be removable so I used cabinet bolts that use an alan key and wood thread inserts, that way I'm able to connect and disconnect the legs when required.
It's very important that when installing the thread inserts that you get them in as straight as possible! It's very easy to get them a little crooked and when that happens you may cause the bolt to become cross threaded when screwing the leg on. I used a drill press to help screw them on straight but you can use a drill or screw driver however do your best to get them in straight.
The frame of the module was built using 15mm plywood, I could have used regular pine however I found the plywood to be a little cheaper and the hardware store I purchased it from had a cutting service so I gave them the measurements and they did all the hard work! I definitely recommend getting the hardware store to cut your wood, often their machines are more accurate and the blades are sharp giving a nice clean cut.
Each piece is cut 90mm tall, the long pieces that make up the length of the module are cut to 1190mm and the cross braces are cut to 565mm which gives each module a total width of 595mm.
Connecting the modules:
As for connecting one module to another, I have decided to go with the infinitely adjustable clamping method. I had previously used a nut and bolt system on a previous modular layout, which worked quite well but was susceptible to minor imperfections and I ended up having to drill the holes for the bolts larger to allow room to make slight adjustments anyway!
I've seen the clamp method used and proven to be very successful over time.
On a side note, there is a preference in the type of clamp you use. In the picture I'm using a clamp with a twist handle, I've recently discovered the twisting moment from the handle can sometimes cause the module to move and twist as well as it begins to tighten, to alleviate this problem you can use the clamps with a trigger mechanism, that way when the two modules begin to press together there is no twisting moment.
I'll calculate cost based on material used and list it below.
All prices are in "Australian Dollars"
Leveling feet - $4.20
Legs - $12.98
Leg brace - $7.68
Cabinet Bolts - $7.50
Washers - $4.00
Thread Inserts - $8.30
Corner reinforcement - $2.65
Plywood frame - $9.33
Plywood top - $10.05
Plywood ends - $4.75
Foam subroadbed - $20
Screws - $5.10
Glue -$3.00 (estimated)
Total cost of one module - $99.54
That means all up I'm looking at about $400 AUD for the four modules.
When you're spending up to $400 dollars on model train benchwork, it's definitely worth doing it well and taking an extra couple of days to make sure all the cuts are spot on and the construction is sound.
Part 3 will involve laying out the track plan on the modules and applying the roadbed and laying the track.
In the model railroad community there are a couple of club standards one can use when building modules, by using these standards you can build and operate modules and connect your module to others who have also built to the same module standards.
When building modules it's completely up to you whether you follow the common standards set by clubs or you can design and build you own modules that fit together as I have done with my design.
If you interested in checking out module standards you can follow these links to their websites and check out the information they have to offer.