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Z Odyssey


First Things First
Taking the Plunge
Planning - Initial Concept
Planning - Track Plans
Train Shows
Contact Steve


Nuts and Bolts - and Ikea!
The issue of benchwork (the frame or table the layout sits on) was one I've been trying to put off as long as possible. I don't have the space, the tools or the skills to make a nice piece of furniture. Since the layout would need to be either extremely portable and rugged (in order to get it out of the way when we have visitors) or a nice piece of furniture in its own right (so the visitors might appreciate it), I was a little worried about this step of the project.
Despite having read numerous articles about benchwork and examined photos of other people's handiwork, I was still in the dark as to what might work best for me, but I knew I couldn't put the decision off much longer. After all, I couldn't get into the fun stuff without addressing this first. I went through the motions of sketching dozens of different ideas - some with lids, some with backboards - I was no closer to an answer. I even considered ordering a pre-made layout table from a company on the internet.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, my wife dragged me along to our local Ikea store. And there I found it - the perfect glass-topped coffee table for under $100! All I have to do to it is install some acrylic panels along the sides to keep out dust and other foreign invaders, perhaps add a little bracing on the underside, and a small shelf or drawer for the controls.
If a suitcase or even a cigar case can qualify as Z scale 'benchwork', then I don't see why a coffee table can't also be benchwork!


I hear you saying "What a cop out!", and you're absolutely right. I should have knuckled down and made it myself, no matter how it came out. But harsh reality dictated that I couldn't build something equivalent for the same price, and if it didn't turn out right, then I'd be stuck trying to find a dark corner to hide my creation every time we have guests. I'd much rather be able to show off my layout.
So now I have my 'benchwork', and since Z scale is so small, I don't think it will require much in terms of bracing. If the shelf can hold a few coffee table books, then it'll be more than strong enough for what I have in mind.