Lightweight benchwork (?)

Discussion in 'Modular Layout Forum' started by VunderBob, May 24, 2005.

  1. VunderBob

    VunderBob Member

    I thought I'd ask this here, because the modular guys would know the best how to answer me.

    I'm warming up to build a 6X10 home layout, with the intent of it being lightweight and mostly portable. I don't intend to take it anywhere like a show or modular meet, but I do want to be able to take it down occasionally and stack the pieces in a corner so the small bedroom can be used for other purposes.

    Right now, I want to buy 1/2" interior grade plywood, and have it ripped into 3" wide strips. Each table (4 total) will be a box made of these strips, with additional crosspieces, similar to bed slats, running across the breadth and set 1" down. I'll then set extruded foam sheets into the box, and hopefully everything will be flush at the edges. Finish off with 2X2 legs having leveling bolts.

    Is this overkill? To heavy to be considered lightweight? Any problems with the approach?

    (BTW, the fancier plywood provides for a nicer looking fascia, and hopefully isn't warped)
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Our local modular club ( uses "paint-grade" 3/4" ply ripped to 4" wide. We inset 2" extruded (pink or blue) foam. There are no cross braces, only corner gussets - which also allow legs to be attached using T-nuts (set into the gusset before adding the foam). Most modules are 2x4. If you make a 2x6, you may want to add one cross brace in the middle. The foam is structurally very strong, and does add a lot of rigidity to the module. I would recommend polyurethane glue for quick(er) drying time, and gap-filling properties.

    The 2x4 modules are relatively lightweight, even with the 3/4" ply. If you are going to install them semi-permanently in a room, you might try wall brackets instead of legs. Makes for a "neater" installation that leaves the floor space clear underneath.

    Good luck with your project - hope to see some pictures of your progress!

  3. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Hi Bob. Probably a bit of overkill with all of those bed slats. You can use the plywood strips as Andrew suggests, or use standard 1"x 4" or 1"x 5" knotty pine lumber. For cross bracing, all you need is one or two 1"x 2" knotty pine for every 4' - 6' . The key is to make the styrofoam decking an integral part of your module. This is accomplished by using wood glue, or better yet, a polyurethane glue.

    For more details on module construction, visit my website.
  4. Bikerdad

    Bikerdad Member

    Your idea is essentially the same as I'm going to be using for my modules. 1/2" Baltic Birch ply box. A 2" wide "ledger strip" (bed slat) inside both ends serves to support the ends of the foam, and also allows me to mount my folding leg brackets ($5 each, lock up and lock down). A third 2" spans the middle, providing a place to mount a terminal block for power distribution, as well as extra strength. Depth of the 'bed slats' is dependent on the thickness of foam used.

    Make sure that you round over all the bottom edges of the frames, as you'll be handling them and plywood splinters are "no fun."

    If you plan on mounting switch machines or the like, then put an 1/8"- 1/4" layer of plywood under the foam, although you could try the approach of using hardboard "mounting pads" for turnouts that just drop into recesses carved into the foam, with the machine screwed to the pad. The reputed advantage to this approach is that replacing/fixing/recovering the switch is very simple, because its not actually glued/ballasted down to the layout, all the tinkering with the switch machine can be done at the workbench, etc. There's an article on it in one of this year's issues of either N Scale or N Scale Railroading.
  5. VunderBob

    VunderBob Member

    RwyBob, that black module with the pink foam is very much what I imagined, save for the color. I don't know what type of bed you have or had, but the bunkbed I grew up in had only 3 slats to it, and I was figuring 1 every 2 feet or so, as a rule of thumb, not hard-n-fast.

    I'll use the plywood for the slats, because I'll have plenty.

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