Of the many challenges that I anticipate to be a part of building a model railway in our living room, I need to find ways to make construction appear to move more quickly than it might appear it is. In short, prepare and pre-build as much as possible so when it gets to the site things happen quickly. Sometimes I think the best way to achieve this will be to build the layout in reverse (e.g. build the structures, build the track, build the benchwork, etc. in that order).
I prefer the use of plywood over dimensional lumber for the construction of model railway benchwork and have been wanting to try making up some of these laminated structural members described in Barry Norman’s book and also as Maurice Hopper used on his Stroudley Green layout mentioned earlier.
I already had some 3/8″ plywood on hand so made mine up using that. Basically, rip the sheet into 3″ wide strips and then laminate them together, spaced with blocks, into the layers as drawn above. I had enough material to make up three full lengths, four feet long. My layout is actually supposed to be five feet long so I wound up splicing in another length to bring each to that final length. Here’s a hasty photo of where I’m at right now.
This is really using plywood to it’s advantage and the resulting sections are strong and don’t flex easily yet still reasonably light in weight. I expect joinery will be mostly butting corners together and glue with screws. The contrasting grain directions should give the screws that much more purchase and, by design, I don’t expect the lumber to be prone to split. As great as they are, they look terrible but I expect to surround the finished layout with something that results in a much more finished appearance so this rugged looking plywood is hidden from view.