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Monday, July 17, 2017

Hobby Time: Putting Legs Under Door Layout in N Scale

It took me some time to discover a good, solid, inexpensive, reliable framework to support the door layout I'd started years ago, with my father's help. It doesn't take up a lot of room, which is good, as my space is limited. In N Scale, you can cover a lot of territory on a hollow core door, as you'll see if you follow my adventures. It was surprisingly difficult to find. If you're having the same issue, I can give you a short cut. Go see the following video on YouTube from Model Railroad TV and then return: Know that this video was made years ago, so $15 no longer applies, but the benchwork is still economical and solid. The list of materials remains sound. The 1 x 3 stringers are cheaper wood from the 1 x 3 framework wood.

I had this hollow core door layout surface for years, having started this hobby when I didn't have the time to pursue it. The challenge was to create benchwork that would support this door. The problem was how to attach legs to the base of that door.

The lip extending beneath the bottom of the door gave me the inspiration. Heavy trim work was placed around the outer edge of the door to protect it. It extended far enough beneath the underside of the door to create a sturdy lip. The benchwork frame could be adjusted to fit snugly to the bottom of the door inside of that lip. The weight of the layout is enough to hold the door firmly to the snugly fit benchwork top.

I measured each piece of lumber to fit beneath that door. The closely spaced 1 x 3's in the interior of the frame are the fasteners for the 2 x 4 legs. This solved the problem of how to securely attach legs to that flat door surface. It works remarkably well. If you measure carefully and fasten the wood with 1 5/8" wood screws firmly, you can achieve a tight fit with the hollow core door's lip. I cut the legs to countertop height (3'). The hollow core door layout on top of that increased the height and it is a great height for work.

I did as much of the work, virtually all of the lumber cutting with a circular saw, outside of the house where there was a lot of room to work with 8' lengths of lumber. With a small house, I had to bring the framework top inside and add the legs there. Inset the front legs 5" as the video instructions state to avoid kicking the legs later. Inset the rear legs by an inch so the stringer along the outside back legs won't hit the back wall (this also saves space). Here's a helpful tip. If you have a simple single speed drill, you can add the screw driving bit to it and easily install the screws (using 1/8" guide holes to ease the process) and do not need an inset bit. That drill will drive the screw heads beneath the surface of the wood! Just don't let it go too deep.

Attach the 1 x 3 stringers to prevent wobbling in the
legs and turn the benchwork right side up. It's remarkably light and one person can easily turn it over. I added leveling feet to the base of the legs to make sure the table would remain level for the layout.

While I was able to successfully build this straight forward benchwork alone, it took two of us to fit the layout to the benchwork. It was a firm fit.

The hollow core door layout fits snugly atop the bench work.

To see N Scale locomotives run on that layout in place, after years with the track unattended to in the basement, see:

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