Benchwork (Sort Of…)

With the track plan complete, I picked up materials for the benchwork and started working. Usually, ‘benchwork’ refers to the entire support system that keeps the layout off the ground. For now, though, I want to keep it simple and get trains running as soon as possible. So instead of building a table, I only built the tabletop. I will add the legs later.

The only materials I needed to purchase for the benchwork are as follows:

  • Two 6′ long select pine 1×4
  • One 6′ long select pine 1×3
  • One 6′ long select pine 1×12

I got all of this at Home Depot for about $50. Obviously, the 1×12 was the biggest expense, being over $30 by itself.

I don’t have space for power tools at home, so I cut everything by hand except for the 1×12, which I had cut in the store. The 1×12 was cut to 47 1/4″. I kept the remaining length for later use (I might use it as a shelf for the power pack after I build legs).

With a miter saw, I cut both of the 1x4s down to 48.75″ and then cut both of the remaining lengths to 11 1/4″. These would frame the 1×12, creating something of a fascia while supporting it structurally.

I then cut the 1×3 into three 11 1/4″ pieces. These would be the ribs of the benchwork. At this stage, I drilled 1/2″ holes in the center of each 1×3 to accommodate track and turnout wiring.


Materials for the benchwork of the Inglenook Sidings shunting puzzle.


First holes drilled. These will serve as pilot holes to screw the 1×4 frame to the 1×3 ribs.

Once I had created the frame and laid out the ribs, I simply dropped the 1×12 into the frame and screwed it down to the 1x3s. Then I drilled a 1/2″ hole just left of center on the ‘front’ side of the frame where the wires for the power pack and remote switches would emerge. I also drilled another 1/2″ hole into the right-hand 1×4, to save me the trouble later on when I want to wire up another module.


Viola. The 1×12 isn’t screwed down yet, but you can see the hole I drilled for a future extension.

As you can see, the 1×12 doesn’t sit flush with the tops of the 1x4s. This was expected, and will allow me to raise the ‘ground’ closer to the top of the roadbed, to make this section of the layout look more like a siding and less like a mainline.


The 1×12 screwed down. Here, I’m getting ready to drill 1/2″ holes near the end of each siding to run feeders through. You can also see that I’ve marked where two of the three sidings extend over the frame (getting the most out of the real estate, here). I carved these out with a utility knife and filed them down until they were flush with the 1×12.


Benchwork finished, except for the lack of dedicated legs.


Angle from the headshunt.


I left a bit of space between the end of each siding and the frame because I’m paranoid that the wood might shrink and cause the track to buckle.


The end of the headshunt extends over the frame and will eventually lead to another part of the layout. I filed down a gap in the 1×4 to accommodate.


The underbelly, showing the 1×3 ribs. You can also see the long wires streaming down. These tangle easily and will need to be managed soon.

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