Every layout needs a supporting structure, and while I’d originally envisioned this layout as folding out from a wall, I realized that the space between the living room couch and the kitchen afforded some space. I also realized that some ready-made furniture existed that would likely meet my needs. To wit, the computer desk. A couple days search on that killer of newspaper revenues Craigslist yielded a perfect candidate. A couple of phone calls, a 20 mile drive, and $30  procured a good basis for my layout:

30 Dollar Computer Desk

The desk originally came with a hutch superstructure that I removed, but also came with a 3-plug power strip and a fluorescent light. There is a rolling cabinet, and a large hole in the rear center for cables that would be perfect for wiring. But the main feature was the large sliding shelf:

Desk With Tray Extended

This is a ready-made workbench (or storage shelf during construction). I was very happy to score this furniture. Because the layout would be in my living space, I wanted some sort of ‘finished’ look. On to construction.

I’d drawn up some plans for the train table:

Table Bottom   Table Details   Table Frame

Yes, that was all done the old-school way. The original idea was to build the table and include storage drawers for rolling stock and power supply in the table structure. With the computer desk, none of that was necessary.  Initial stages:

Table Test Fit 1






Table Test Fit 2

That’s the frame of the table test-fit onto the desk. The desk seller was kind enough to include the desktop dimensions in his ad, so I could relate the desk to my planned layout. A few days later:

Finished Table Top 1

Finished Table Top 2

The main surface of the table is made of 1/8″ Luann (door skin) on the bottom with two 1/2″ foam boards layered on top and secured with Liquid Nails. The exposed edges are where cutouts will be made for the harbor (left) and a coal trestle (right). If I’d done it over, I would have used 1/4″ board underneath, as the thinner stuff warped and created dips that had to be addressed. The vertical surfaces are faced with 1/8″ wood paneling, while the horizontal surfaces are painted with a faux Earth-tone picked up in the remainder bin at a local home improvement store. You can also see that I put casters on the desk to aid in moving it around.

Under layout access was critical, so I designed the table to flip up:

Tilted Table Top 2


Tilted Table Top 1

Flipping the layout will get more problematical as construction proceeds, but I have ideas about that.


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