Benchwork

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Benchwork

Postby Mem-160 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:13 am

I am building an upper lever with 1x2's, and I have been reading about people who say this will be problems down the road, that the 1x2's will split and warp. So I want to know if it's safe for me to move forward with this benchwork or use something else before it's too late. It's just basic framework at this point, but I don't want to lay subroadbed and track and then have it all fall apart after all that work. My room in the cellar where my trains are does have a wall mounted dehumidifier,A/C,heater. But I don't want to put all this time and work into something like this only to be forced to "abandon" it later.

Thanks for the info,

- Mark
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Re: Benchwork

Postby jwhite07 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:22 am

The quality of the wood and how green it still is (i.e. how much moisture content) will have a lot to say about warping and splitting. Cheap knotty pine is inexpensive, but it is splitsville and thus your enemy. Anything that has visible pitch coming out of it is a no-no. You're better off with a better grade of wood. It may be more expensive, but think of it like insurance - pay a little more now and you may end up saving big later. Environmentally, the dehumidifier will help, as will being able to limit large temperature variances which are a warp-inducing factor as well. If you have good wood and firm control of the layout room environment, 1x2s may be just fine for you. 1x4s aren't that much more expensive, but may be a less than ideal choice if you are planning a multi-deck layout and need the extra two inches of clearance or even if you want to store bulky things under the layout.

I'm using a mix of kiln-dried clear pine 1x4 and 1x2 in my construction, with 2x2 legs. I'm early into the construction process so cannot speak very long term, but I've had some of the cache of lumber on hand in the basement for almost three years and it's still as straight as when I bought it. In my case, I do not foresee problems anyway, as a lot of my benchwork framed with 1x2s will be topped with 1/2 inch plywood, and I will have a fairly limited amount of open grid construction. There will also be two or three storage shelves below, with 1x4 framing for the bottom shelf near the floor, so as a unit it will all be pretty solid - essentially I'm building shelf units which happen to have a model railroad on the top shelf. I'm also building the whole thing in a semi-modular fashion, with individual sections typically no more than four to six feet long and carriage-bolted together at the top and bottom of the ends. Thus none of the 1x2s used in my benchwork will be particularly long, which should further limit any tendency to warp. I have a dehumidifier and the oil furnace in the basement. My basement is fully subgrade, so the temperature down there doesn't vary by more than about 10 degrees all year long - despite the seasonal weather extremes in my New England location, it's always quite cool down there, somewhere between 50 and 60 degrees no matter what it's doing outdoors or even if the furnace is running.
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Re: Benchwork

Postby Stephen » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:01 pm

jwhite07 wrote:I'm using a mix of kiln-dried clear pine 1x4 and 1x2 in my construction, with 2x2 legs. I'm early into the construction process so cannot speak very long term, but I've had some of the cache of lumber on hand in the basement for almost three years and it's still as straight as when I bought it. In my case, I do not foresee problems anyway, as a lot of my benchwork framed with 1x2s will be topped with 1/2 inch plywood, and I will have a fairly limited amount of open grid construction. There will also be two or three storage shelves below, with 1x4 framing for the bottom shelf near the floor, so as a unit it will all be pretty solid - essentially I'm building shelf units which happen to have a model railroad on the top shelf. I'm also building the whole thing in a semi-modular fashion, with individual sections typically no more than four to six feet long and carriage-bolted together at the top and bottom of the ends. Thus none of the 1x2s used in my benchwork will be particularly long, which should further limit any tendency to warp. I have a dehumidifier and the oil furnace in the basement. My basement is fully subgrade, so the temperature down there doesn't vary by more than about 10 degrees all year long - despite the seasonal weather extremes in my New England location, it's always quite cool down there, somewhere between 50 and 60 degrees no matter what it's doing outdoors or even if the furnace is running.


This sounds like a great design. The combination of semi-modular, shelving for storage, and common materials (1X4, 1X2, 2X2, etc) sounds like exactly what I might need.
That said, I am having a little trouble visualizing the combination of the 2x2 legs and the shelving. Do you have any pictures you could share?

Thank you,
Stephen
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Re: Benchwork

Postby jwhite07 » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:01 am

That said, I am having a little trouble visualizing the combination of the 2x2 legs and the shelving. Do you have any pictures you could share?


No pictures immediately accessible, but I can take some at some point, and in the meantime I'll see if I can explain it better: The plywood shelf tops are notched at each corner so there are four square holes inboard of the corner of the shelf frame. The legs fit through these holes and are screwed against the inside corner of the shelf frame at the desired height. That way the shelves also serve as leg bracing.
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Re: Benchwork

Postby jwhite07 » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:36 pm

OK, requested picture. Bottom shelf has 1x4 framing under the plywood top. Second shelf has 1x2 framing (temporarily sans plywood), but it is illustrative of use of 1x2 in layout construction as the original poster to this thread was asking about. 2x2 legs at corners, and plywood notched to allow legs to pass through all shelf decks, but of course legs would terminate under the layout level. The two shelves pictured are spaced 16" apart, but this could vary according to needs, intended usage, clearance to access any staging decks, wiring, or under layout appliances (very important!), and what have you. Nothing's to say shelves have to be at the same heights across sections, except of course they should be reasonably close at the top and bottom where they bolt together for added stability. Bottom of each leg has levelers made from carriage bolts screwed into tee nuts to compensate for my slightly uneven basement floors. True, lots of lumber goes into it all, but it's functional, quick, only basic skills required to build (believe me!), can be made reasonably attractive, and did I mention it's functional? I can store store everything I keep in the basement, off the floor, AND I'll have a railroad sitting atop it all hiding it from view. Oh, and you could pretty near park a truck on this benchwork.

Image

As you can see, design is quite a bit like modular clubs use (I'm a member of one, so that's where I got some of my design ideas), but this will be a hopefully permanent or at least semi-permanent layout, and individual modules will not follow NMRA or even Free-Mo standards or practices. The pictured section is in fact 2ft x 4ft like an NMRA module would be, but that's what is needed for the space. Every module can be individually shaped and sized in accordance with what's needed, but not so big or permanently attached that I'd never have a shot at salvaging and reusing the majority of the layout in another location if necessary.

I know MR has been running articles about semi-modular construction lately. I didn't get the idea from them, but it certainly seems a good and logical idea for me, and apparently others too. It's not a brand new concept.
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Re: Benchwork

Postby Stephen » Thu Jul 06, 2017 9:56 pm

jwhite07 wrote:OK, requested picture.


Thank you very much! The additional notes and picture are extremely helpful. If/when I can get mine going in the basement that looks like something I could copy pretty closely.

Have a good one,
Stephen
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