my first try at it....................

Discussion in 'Modular Layout Forum' started by ozzy, Mar 14, 2007.

  1. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    well im in the middle of building my first modular......

    its meant to be a 2' X 4' modular... but its not....... it is a 1/2" out of square!!!!!! darn it !

    i used L brackets so this would not happen......... but it did.

    and i used the more expensive lumber, you know the stuff that is supose to be streaght!!!!

    witch it was not!

  2. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    This is a sure-fire way to get things squared...Apart from cutting the sides (2 shorts/2 longs) to the same dimension, and assembling the unit, BEFORE putting any bracing into the frame, measure diagonally from corner to corner. They should measure the same. If they don't, force the frame to one side or another 'till they measure the same. Once this is done, put in your bracing, always checking that you don't "unsquare" the unit (check after each brace you put in). This'll make you nice square modules.
    Good luck...!!!
  3. csxengineer

    csxengineer Member

    Lumber issues

    Been there, done that.

    I suck at benchwork. I can't cut a straight line to save my life! I measure 3 or 4 times, brace the wood, stay focused, and I still have 1 side longer than the other! AAAUUUGGGHH!!!!:curse:

    It makes my turretts act up! I swear like the dad in A CHRISTMAS STORY every time he fixed the furnace!

    whew, I'm done.
  4. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Attitude is all...Next time you tackle a job, convince yourself it's going to be the best module (frame, scenery...whatever) that's ever been done. And when it does turn out to be...just chalk it up to pure dumb luck...
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    If you have a chop saw, you can cut both sides and both ends at the same time. You can even pin them together with small nails to ensure they don't move.

    If you also cut your coner gussets/braces so they are 90°, and attach them to the ends before you put the sides on, that may help.

    You could also invest in a corner clamp.

    And be sure to measure the diagonals, as suggested.

    Don't be discouraged. I have built frames that have gone out of square AFTER I put them together, but before I put the foam deck in... hamr hamr :mad:

  6. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Do you have an assistant? That is also a good way of ensureing accuracy.
  7. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Nothing cheap is really square. Those angle brackets were probably out of square to start with. You would probably be better off cutting triangular corner braces out of stable lumber using a good table or miter saw, if you have access to one.

    As Steamhead suggests, measure from corner to diagonal corner to double check, then screw, glue, and brace everything, while watching out for changes.

    And don't just rely on butt joints to hold it together. They are notoriously weak. You need good corner bracing for strength.
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    One other approach that might help is to build a jig to hold all the pieces during assembly. You could make something up from MDF - it would be big, and heavy, but if you are making lots of frames, it might be worth it.

    Also, you can get the luber yard to cut your wood on their equipment - as long as it is accurate, and the operator takes some care.

  9. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    ok i been messing around with it, and now im only 1/4" out of square, i think thats as good as im going to get with out starting all over. now im working on the removable / adjustable legs. then i will start my 2nd modular.

    if the big wigs at the club i just joined think that 1/4" off still wont work then i will just keep it for a small N scale layout here at home and start over,

    im geting in on the ground floor of an O scale modular , they already got an ho layout, but some of them are in O as well.
  10. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    ok, i got the first two done. not bad for my first time!. these will go in the club layout, but i think im going to biuld a bunch more for home. i got room to store them, but not to have them set up all the time.

    these have removable legs and each leg adjusts up and down 4 inch. so i can level them on an unlevel floor if need be.

    now has anyone ever made a "top or lid" for them so you can stack them or transport them ?
  11. hooknlad

    hooknlad Member

    I am also going to suggest having the place where you bought the plywood from. The Lowes Home Improvement Center that I frequent, do a good job of squaring off my plywood. The have a straight edge rail system on a trolley that rips their plywood, so it's pretty much better than if you were to rip it at home. My $0.02 .
  12. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    i ALWAYS have my lumber store cut my plywood since i cant cut a straight line if my life depende on it! they have this sliding saw that cuts perfect lines and im going to milk my money for all its worth! :D --josh
  13. CarlFidy

    CarlFidy Member

    module stackers

    Give me a couple days, and I'll get you some pictures of the endplate stackers we use for the NEONS modules.
  14. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    If you are going to put a piece of plywood over the frame, have the lumber yard cut your plywood to size with their equipment. Home Depot, Lowes etc, sell pre cut 2X4 and 4X4 pieces. Use the top piece to square up your framing. The metal angle braces are not necessary. You can also cut both ends and both sides of your framing by clamping them together and making one cut through both pieces. Carpentry and cabinet making are learned skills. Nobody said it would be perfect the first time.
  15. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    the 1x4 frames are dead on the same, i checked them 3 times before i started putting them togeather. i did not use plywood. i used homasote. as thats in the standerds that i have to follow for the club. i never used it before but i think i will like it. i bought the homasote pre cut 24" x48"
  16. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Getting things square is a piece of cake! And you don't need 4 hands, 4 corner clamps, etc. All you need are a couple of tricks of the trade and knowing how to sequence the work.

    For starters, visit my website
    and read how I put my module frames together. From this, you will develop in your own mind how you might want to assemble those pieces of wood. You won't necessarily follow my techniques but, from these methods, you will develop your own ideas as to how you want to do things.

    Secondly, decide how thick is your styrofoam deck (assuming you are using styrofoam) and get a couple of pieces of 2"x 4" (actually they're 1½" x 3½") cut to the thickness of your styrofoam (eg I use 1½" styrofoam so I have about 4 pieces of 2"x 4" cut to 1½"x 1½" x 18" long.

    Thirdly, don't try to cut the wood yourself. Most building supply stores worth their salt have a saw service using equipment that you couldn't even afford (my chop saw cost me $800 excluding the stand - but that's another story). Get them to cut the wood up to the size you want. It may not be exacto-mundo all the same length but it will be very close and very square.

    Lumber - cost doesn't mean anything. It's the straightness and lack of curves or cupping. I've had lots of luck with knotty pine. It's simply a matter of selecting the good pieces that are nice and straight. If the board curves out, it can always be brought back into alignment with some cross bracing in the middle of the module frame.

    So, now that you've got your lumber selected and cut, label each piece as to whether it is an end plate, a side piece, a cross member, etc. Also, label each piece, both sides as to whether it is the top and whether it is going on the inside or the outside.

    Mark and drill the holes in each piece of wood. Install the T-nuts. You're ready for the next step - assembling the pieces.

    Bob M.
  17. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    The key to assembling those pieces of wood is to free up as many hands as possible so that you only need two hands to do the job. This is where some "jigs" come in hand. In this case, our jig are a couple of pieces of 2"x 4" cut to the thickness of our styrofoam - in my case, 1½" x 1½"x 18".

    Your corner gusset (the piece of wood your styrofoam is going to rest on, can go from one side of the module (as is shown in the photos on my website) or it can simply be a triangular piece of wood. You will be assembling your pieces of wood so that the pieces marked "top" are face down on your work bench.

    Start with the end plate. Load the end plate up with screws so that they just poke through to the other side. Place your end plate so that the ¾" surface is touching the surface of your work bench. Place your pieces of 1½"x 1½"x 18" next to the end plate. You have just created a ledge for holding your corner gusset exactly 1½" from the top of your module frame. You have just freed up one extra hand so that you now have two hands free.

    Load the ¾" edge of your corner gusset with glue (suggested glue - yellow carpenter's glue) and place it on the 1½"x 1½"x 18" ledge so that the ¾" edge of the gusset is touching the side of the end plate - lined up with the screws. Align the end of the gusset with the end of the end plate so that both pieces are flush with each other. Screw in the screws. Repeat the process at the other end and with the other end plate. You have now created four 90° corners. You are ready to fasten the two side pieces.

    If you find that your corners aren't exactly flush, a sanding block and a bit of sanding will solve the problem.

    Start with one side piece and one end plate/gusset combination. Load both ends of the side piece with screws that just poke through the other side of the wood. Place your 1½"x 1½"x 18" pieces of wood alongside one of the side pieces at the end where you are going to fasten an end plate/gusset combination. Load the ¾" part of the end plate/gusset combination with glue and place the gusset (now glued to the end plate!) on top of the 1½"x 1½"x 18" pieces of wood. Make sure that the parts of both pieces marked "top" are down agains the deck of your work bench. Adjust the end plate/gusset combination and the side piece so that the corners are flush. Screw in the screws.

    Repeat the same process at the other end of the side piece.

    You now have 3 of the 4 side glued together. Time to glue the 4th side - the other side piece.

    Load the other side piece with screws. Apply glue to the ¾" edge of both end plates/gusset combinations (this can get a bit messy but the glue cleans up with water). Lay the 3-sided piece on the workbench with the ends marked "top" face down on the work bench. Place your 1½"x 1½"x 18" pieces of wood under each gusset so that they will rest alongside the side piece to be glued. This will keep the end plate/gusset combination vertical and free up one hand.

    Place your side piece along the assembly. Working at one end, align the side piece so that it is flush with the corner of the end plate/gusset combination. Start with the screws that are to be screwed into the side of the end plate. Screw in the corner screws. Then press down on the gusset so that it is rests on the 1½"x 1½"x 18" piece of wood. Scre in the screws for the gusset.

    Repeat the process at the other end.

    If you are using cross members in the middle (highly recommended) (use 1½"x ¾" pine), install the middle cross members. Again place your 1½"x 1½"x 18" pieces of wood on each side where the cross member is to go, load up the screws, apply glue to the ends of the cross member, insert, align and screw in place.

    Voila! a fully assembled module frame that is guaranteed to have 90° corners. It works for me every time. I don't even need a T-square for assembling things.

    The key is to get the wood cut at 90°. Which is why I use the saw service at my local building supply store.

    Hope this helps remove some of the frustration.

    Bob M.
  18. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    well , im off the the club, i will see if my modular will pass there
  19. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Good luck with the inspection!

  20. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    good luck , hope it works out.and if it dont then try try again.jut like "the little engine that could"...NEVER QUIT!!!LOL--josh

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