How to Build an "N" Scale Train Set Coffee Table

Written by grahame turner
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The concept of a coffee table book is fairly common -- a large book containing interesting photographs left out to strike up conversations. Imagine instead making the entire coffee table into an ice breaker by storing a train set inside the top of it. The smaller scale for trains, N-scale, is ideal for making a train set coffee table. Once the table is built, you can design and lay out your train in almost any style which will fit inside the table.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1-by-6-inch planks
  • Measuring tape
  • Marker
  • Saw
  • Router table
  • 3/4-inch routing bit
  • Plywood board 3/4-inch thick
  • 2-by-2-inch posts
  • Wood glue
  • 3-inch wood screws
  • 1-by-3-inch wood
  • Plexiglass sheet 1/2-inch thick

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  1. 1

    Cut the 1-by-6-inch planks into four lengths to make the walls of the table. A 2-by-6-foot table, for example, would need two 2-foot panels and two 6-foot panels.

  2. 2

    Measure 1 inch from the lower long edge of a wall piece. Draw a straight line along this edge to mark out where you will route the piece. Repeat on the other side panels.

  3. 3

    Insert the router bit into the table and set it to make a 1/2-inch deep groove. Position the fence 1 inch from the bit.

  4. 4

    Route a 3/4-inch channel in all four wall panels. Push the wood panels across the top of the router.

  5. 5

    Measure and mark the plywood panel to the dimensions of the table, plus an inch on all sides. For example, a 2-by-6-foot piece should be 2 feet 1 inch by 6 feet 1 inch. At the four corners, draw 1/2-inch boxes so that it becomes a very fat cross-shape.

  6. 6

    Cut out the piece of plywood.

  7. 7

    Cut the 2-by-2-inch planks into 2-foot lengths, four in all to make the legs.

  8. 8

    Position one of the short wall panels so that the groove is near you, and the long edge faces you. Flip the piece over, so that the groove is still near you. Place one table leg on the left-hand side, so that the top of the leg meets the top of the panel. Glue and screw the leg into place. Repeat on the other side. Leave the glue to dry for 10 minutes. Repeat to make another side piece.

  9. 9

    Flip the piece upright, with the table legs in the air. Butt one of the long wall panels against the table leg, with the groove positioned to line up with the first groove. Glue and screw this piece into place, and repeat on the other side to create a U-shape.

  10. 10

    Dab glue inside the grooves on all three sides. Slide the plywood panel into the groove, pushing firmly to get all of the glue in place.

  11. 11

    Glue and screw the other side panel into place on the other end of the table. Leave the table to dry for 10 minutes.

  12. 12

    Tack the plywood board into the walls of the table.

  13. 13

    Cut the 1-by-3-inch pieces of wood to form a table edge. Cut two pieces for each of the sides of the table, each 2 inches longer than the side of the table.

  14. 14

    Measure from the bottom left corner of the wood up to the right side at a 45-degree angle. Repeat on the other side. Cut these 45-degree angles into the end of the wood. Repeat with the remaining three pieces of wood. The four pieces should fit together to form an O-shape, using four nearly trapezoidal pieces.

  15. 15

    Position the router fence so that it's against the bit, so that it will create a groove on the edge of the piece of wood.

  16. 16

    Run the inside, the narrower ends of a piece of wood, over the router to form a lip inside the piece of wood. Repeat with the other four pieces.

  17. 17

    Glue and screw the four edge pieces around the edge of the table to form the outer lip.

  18. 18

    Measure the inside of the lip, and cut your Plexiglass to fill in that lip.

  19. 19

    Layout and connect your train set to the plywood board. Make the layout you want to see on your table, and connect it to power according to your set directions. Decorate the model as you want to see it, and leave the table to dry overnight.

  20. 20

    Lay the Plexiglass sheet over the model.

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