Mike Cougill wrote a fascinating article on reducing the weight of benchwork and I thought:
- If we separate the structure we create to support the model railroad from the structure we create within its body we can tailor their design to suit their very different needs.
- Fascia can create a ‘white space’ to focus attention the scene but it adds additional visual weight that distracts from the work being displayed.
There. I call it The Wing.
- Separate the structure that supports the layout from the structure that supports the actual models.
- The Wing has legs but is designed to rest on a window ledge, countertop, or something like Ikea’s Ivar shelving.
- Eliminate the fascia completely.
Our friends in the radio control model airplane hobby build large flying model aircraft. They’re able to do this with a multimedia structure in the wing that allows the wing to hold its shape as the airplane performs its manouvers while flying. That airplane wing carries the entire weight of the model, while it’s in flight, yet does so in a form that is efficient while the model moves through the air. I’m not talking about small, rubber band powered, models but large ones. Their models are easily as large as some of the shelf layouts we create. Why not, almost literally, build a model railroad on one of those wings?
This form rests on a surface like a nicely finished table. It’s every bit as beautiful to look at. It’s almost like a pedestal that promotes or elevates our work into view. Light flows around this form just as air does. Our eyes trace those lines, joining our curiousity as we explore it. It looks curious. I would want to look at this from across a crowded room. I would want to introduce myself to it and makes its acquaintance.
Nothing subtracts from the story being told in the scene. It looks attractive. As we get to know each other I only learn more things that enrich my impression of it. I will remember this long after our first meeting. I love it.
We have lasers and CNC tools to cut plywood and, from that, we have some really cool benchwork kits now but they’re still just boxes. The tools don’t care what they cut so could we cut a different line? Those tools are complex and may be out of reach. They aren’t necessary here. The materials are light plywood in thicknesses of 1/4″ or less and those can be cut with a handsaw or, as the members get lighter, utility knife.