How to build wall mouted track shelves for an HO train room

Written by carson barrett
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How to build wall mouted track shelves for an HO train room
An HO-scale model railway. (model railroad image by pearlguy from

There are several different sizes of model railways, which are measured in scales. One such scale is HO, in which 3.5 mm is equivalent to 1 foot of a real railway line. A model railway layout, even in a smaller size like HO scale, can take up a lot of space, so one option to consider is building a wall-mounted layout. This is a layout in which you essentially build a shelf around the walls of a room and run the trains on it.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Stud finder
  • Drill
  • Wall anchors
  • Saw
  • Safety goggles
  • 2 cm (3/4 inch) plywood
  • Tape
  • String
  • Scroll saw
  • Brackets
  • Paint or stain
  • Screws

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  1. 1

    Measure the dimensions of the room. Measure not only the length and width of the room, but measure the space between the ceiling and the door and highest window. The shelf needs to be installed higher than the moulding around the window or door, while allowing at least 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) of clearance between the ceiling and the train.

  2. 2

    Mark the location of the brackets that hold the shelves. Start in the corner closest to the door or window which is highest in the room and mark a spot 15 cm (6 inches) from the corner at the proper height for the shelf. Make another mark 40 cm (16 inches) away from the first mark, and a third mark 10 cm (4 inches) down from the second mark. Mark the adjoining wall using the same method.

  3. 3

    Repeat this step in the other three corners, keeping the marks at the same height.

  4. 4

    Locate the studs on all four walls with a stud finder and mark them.

  5. 5

    Drill pilot holes for the brackets into the wall. For the areas of the walls between the corners, drill into the studs. If the marks in the corners are not on the studs, install wall anchors, following the manufacturer's instructions.

  6. 6

    Cut four 60 cm x 60 cm (2 feet x 2 feet) pieces of 2 cm (3/4 inch) plywood. Label one corner on each piece "A", and label the corner diagonally across the board "B". Label one of the other corners "C", and the other one "D".

  7. 7

    Measure the width of the boards that you are using for the part of the shelving that runs along the walls between the corner pieces. Measure this distance in from corner "C" towards corner "B" and mark it off on all four boards.

  8. 8

    Measure the width of the long shelving from corner "D" towards corner "B" and mark it off.

  9. 9

    Draw an arc between the two marks on each of the four boards. One way to do this is to tape a pencil to a string and put the tip of the pencil on one of the marks. Hold the string down in corner "B", and slide the pencil across the board to the other mark.

  10. 10

    Cut the boards with a scroll saw, following the line you drew connecting the two marks.

  11. 11

    Hold a corner piece in position in one of the corners, and mark the edge of the piece on the two walls. Repeat this step in each corner.

  12. 12

    Measure the distances between the marks of the corner pieces of each wall to determine the length of the straight shelving.

  13. 13

    Cut strips of 2 cm (3/4 inch) plywood to fit the length between the corner pieces and the width your plans call for.

  14. 14

    Install the brackets on the walls, keeping them at the same height.

  15. 15

    Lay the shelving into position on the brackets to dry-fit it.

  16. 16

    Remove the shelving and paint or stain it. Allow the shelving to dry.

  17. 17

    Place the shelving on the brackets and screw it into place.

Tips and warnings

  • If you don't want to see the brackets supporting the shelving, you have a couple of different options to hide it. One option is installing decorative moulding over it. Another is installing the brackets so they suspend the shelving from above, thus giving the shelves the appearance of "floating" when viewed from underneath.

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