Hollow Core Doors for layout bench?

Discussion in 'Tips & Tricks' started by martyv, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. martyv

    martyv New Member

    Has anyone used a "used" hollow core door for a bench on which you built your layout on? I am in the construction business and we will be starting a job in a few weeks where we will be replacing about 1200 flush hollow core luan mahagony doors with flush hollow core oak doors. Most of the doors are 32"x80" in size. So, we are just going to load up a bunch of dumpsters. But, I was thinking they might work pretty good for building a layout. If you did what were some of the advantages and disadvantages.


  2. Tad

    Tad Member

    My layout is based on a 36" x 80" hollow core door with some extensions on it. I put a sheet of foam insulation on top.



    I think the doors work really well as a base.

    The only disadvantage is threading the feeder wires through the door. After I had finished wiring my layout I read a tip where a guy used a narrow drinking straw as a conduit to thread the wires through. He would drill the hole, insert the straw, thread the wire throught the straw, and then pull the straw out. I wish I had known that before I wired mine.
  3. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Hollow door...

    I used one for my layout too but had to cut the bottom off due to space requirements. Since the rigid parts of a hollow door is at the top and bottom - and I cut all of it off on the bottom section - I used a yardstick to add the needed rigidity. It fits between the upper and lower inside surfaces perfectly and when glued in place, adds the needed strength to the door. I would suggest you use 1/2 or 1 inch foam insulation glued to the door and build your layout on that. It will allow you to make water scenes and changes in the topography much easier and will dampen some of the noise train operation creates. I didn't do that and regret it now. I've got to go back and add hills and subtle changes to the ground to make things look just a bit more real, and the water I added was a real hard task.

    Wiring is a challange on a door, that straw idea is great (wish I knew that one before I wired mine - would have saved a lot of time). But what I'm still dealing with is the wiring under the door. I'm still thinking about how to best hide the turnout wiring but allow access when needed.

    All in all, I'd recommend a door. It's light weight, strong, already sanded smooth and square. My kids can lift the layout and slide it around the floor without problem. (My design allowed the entire layout to slide under my boys bed when not in use which is why I had to cut it down to the correct size).

    If you have the room and need extra work space, you could do the old idea of placing a hinge on each end of the door, adding some drop down legs to the opposite corners and presto - you have a workbench that is set up only when you need it.
  4. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    If it was me, Marty, I would collect all the doors I could and offer them for sale. I bet you could make a bundle on 1200 doors at $5.00 each. You would be surprised at how fast they would go, I think. I bet you could get more than $5.00 each. Even $10 a piece would be a deal. Lots of uses for old doors. I have 7 of them in use right now in my basement.

    Something to consider.

    TrainClown ;)
  5. martyv

    martyv New Member

    TC (trainclown),

    Your right offer then at $5.00 apiece thats six grand in which to go buy more train stuff :thumb: and the woman who had the courage to marry me would really be wondering where I got all this money for all these locomotives!!!! :cool: :cool:
    Seriously, you are correct most of the time we don't know what has value until you start to think about it.
    Like HercDriver said strong, lightweight, square and sanded and on these already sealed. Really as for a small layout sort of hard to beat.

    Marty V.
  6. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    It would be hard to find 1200 modelers in his area that could use a hollow-core door...:rolleyes::rolleyes:

    Oh, you mean there are other uses for old hollow-core doors????:D
  7. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    That's right, Don. ;)

    TrainClown :)
  8. martyv

    martyv New Member


    Most of the time we have little trouble getting rid of things for free. Usually that's what we do because that saves the dumpster cost, which runs about $35/cu. yd. Hell, that a third the cost of a cubic yard of concrete. We have had similar types of jobs where we had somewhat salvageable material and people have come up with the most creative things to make with salvage materials. Heck my garage/shop and office is made up of 75% salvage materials. You can't believe what is thrown out everyday by the construction industry. One of the good ole boys that works the scale at the construction demolition landfill is amazing what he has salvaged. Anyway, my point was just to see if someone has used the doors for a layout board and I'm sure it will work. I get your drift. Thanks


    Building green before it was cool ??? Hell, that it Green Model Railroad Building!! :D :D
  9. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Marty and TC,

    Yeah, I was trying to be funny. :DI have my original N scale layout on a 36" hollow-core door. Bought it brand new at Home Depot for around $20 not pre-drilled. I'd have used an old one if I had one.:wave:

    Talking about giving stuff away, a construction story of sorts, but a good many years ago we moved into a house that they yard was totally overgrown in plants and trees. We tried to give away all that we could get anybody to take away, but managed to give only one tree to a business acquantance.:cry: So rather than keep trying to give the stuff away, I ran an ad "Plants and trees, $5 each, bring a shovel". In less than a day, we had the yard thinned out the way we wanted it and the area where the new pool was cleared. And yes, we made a couple of hundred bucks and got our landscaping started while I sat in a chair and collected the money. :thumb: I guess they must have thought that "free" meant that there was something wrong. "Cheap" meant good deal.:rolleyes: :rolleyes:

    Oh yeah, I did put hinges on my door so I could swing it up to get to the wiring without crawling under the bench.:cool:
  10. babydot94513

    babydot94513 Member in training

    I like the idea of the rigidity of a hollow-core door, but the sad thing is the dimensions. At least for me I need them to be 36"X48" and nobody makes door that small - unless it is custom order.

    If you can make it work I say go for it.

  11. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    You've got two choices. One, you can use a solid-core door, runs about twice as much and is a lot heavier, but you can cut it down easily. Secondly, you can cut down a hollow-core door. It's a bit tricky, but you can cut it down and strip out the small wooden top rail piece that you just cut off and glue it into the hollow section that's left. I"ve taken hollow-core doors and made them narrower that same way.
  12. martyv

    martyv New Member


    Getting a 36" x 48" door would not be a problem. Just take a full size door hollow core or solid core. If it was me, I'd take a hollow core and I would just cut a full size down from 80" to 48" then you will need to plug the cut end. Just cut it with you Skilsaw. Take your time and make a nice clean cut. Then Take some nice, fairly straight pine, cedar, poplar or anything that is easy to cut and rip the 1" x 3" down so that you fill in the hollowed out portion of the door. We cut doors all the time. Once you have the plug piece cut put some glue on, stick it in the hollowed portion of the door then either clamp it, finish nail it, staple it, screw it or fasten it until the glue dries. As a matter of fact I was in Home Depot this morning and saw a damaged flush door for $5.00 The young guy said it has been there for 2 weeks and it it doesn't sell he said I could dumpster dive for it Sunday. See JD most guys don't know how to make use of that damaged door. If there was some scabbed up piece of plywood Home Depot wouldn't even need to put that on the closeout rack it would sell with very little problem.

    Let me know if you need any clarifying or help.

  13. astrowolf67

    astrowolf67 New Member

    I cut a door down to 5 feet one time, and just used a 2 x 2 to fill in the end. It fit perfect. Hollow core doors have many, many uses, besides just being a door. Bench work for the rail road, slap some folding legs on it, and you have an instant light weight multi use banquet table, portable work table, tables for train shows, and the list goes on.

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