How to build a wood platform for a model train track

Written by deborah stephenson
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How to build a wood platform for a model train track
A model train track needs a base. (model railway image by Shirley Hirst from

At some point or another in our childhoods, model trains have fascinated most of us. Some of us still find them mesmerising, though we may not like to admit it to our grown-up friends. If you have an interest in model trains, this simple 1.2 by 2.4 m (4 foot by 8 foot) platform is a good starting size to create a larger model as time and space allow. It is large enough for an interesting layout, yet modest enough to fit into a relatively small space. Adding detachable legs further enhances its versatility.

Things you need

  • 1 sheet grade A plywood, 1.2 cm by 1.2 m by 2.4 m (1/2 inch by 4 foot by 8 foot)
  • 2 boards, 5 cm by 10 cm by 2.4 m (2 inches by 4 inches by 96 inches)
  • 5 boards, 5 cm by 10 cm by 112.5 cm (2 inches by 4 inches by 45 inches)
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Drill bit, 2.8 mm (7/64 inch)
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Box of flathead screws, 6.8 cm (2 3/4 inch) (14 gauge)
  • Box plasterboard screws, 3.7 cm (1 1/2 inch)
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood sealer or paint
  • Legs or sawhorses (optional)

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  1. 1

    Cut all boards to the specified lengths.

  2. 2

    Lay the two 2.4 m (96 inch) boards parallel to one another. Measure and mark them both together at 0, 60 cm, 1.2 m 1.8 m and 2.4 m (0, 24, 48, 72 and 96 inches). These are the placement points for the end pieces and bracing.

  3. 3

    Separate the two long boards 112.5 cm (45 inches) apart -- continuing to keep them parallel to one another, and lay the 112.5 cm (45 inches) boards between them at the marked positions.

  4. 4

    Drill two pilot holes through the long boards and into the cross pieces at each marked position, using the 2.8 mm (7/64 inch) drill bit.

  5. 5

    Put carpenter's glue on the end of each board where it will join, and attach all the cross pieces using 6.8 cm (2 3/4 inch) flathead screws (through pilot holes) to finish the support framework.

  6. 6

    Lay the plywood with the smoothest side up on top of the support and screw in place using the 3.7 cm (1 1/2 inch) plasterboard screws.

  7. 7

    Sand rough edges and seal with a wood sealer or paint. Add legs if desired.

Tips and warnings

  • If you intend to add legs to your platform, keep in mind that the table will be stronger if the legs are attached 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 inches) in from the ends (of the long sides) and not directly at the corners. Mounting them closer together adds stability to the structure and prevents undue flexing. For the easiest table of all, do as The Model Railroader website suggests and simply place your platform on sawhorses.
  • If you lay out your tracks with dead-end branches in various places along the edges of this basic platform, you can attach additional platforms next to them and easily lay more tracks on auxilary platforms to expand your railway.

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