Sep 032012

I’ve completed the workbench and I’m pretty happy with it. The key features are:

  • Magnetic Tool Strip: I bought these at Harbor Freight a few years ago and have been waiting for an occasion to use them. Since the work table is kind of small (16″) deep, I figured keeping the tools off of the work area would be helpful.
  • Under Cabinet Lighting: I bought two of these lights a few years ago for around $20 each. They are T5 fluorescent lights. I broke one and was left with only one working. I stopped by Fry’s this afternoon and found them available for only $8, I bought two more to fill out the workbench lighting. This was a great savings because I was about to place a $100 order at CYELITE for T4 fluorescent lights.
  • New Chairs for the Boys: Staples had these chairs on sale a couple of weeks ago for $30. I also had a $5 coupon. I really wanted to get some chairs for my boys. Now we will all have a place to sit when we’re weathering.
  • Rotating Vise: Surprise surprise, something mechanical from Harbor Freight that’s actually worth a damn. I got this for around $20; much cheaper than a $70 PanaVise. I just used it to hold some Kadee 119 couplers while I filed the upper shelf off of them.
  • Dremel with Flex Shaft: Of course.

See my previous post: Skyboards, workbench and valance fascia


Aug 202012
 August 20, 2012  Posted by Greg Amer at 11:05 am , , ,

I’ve mostly completed the major benchwork for The Industrial Lead. I have a couple of tasks to complete:

  1. Install drawer fasces.
  2. Fix Formica chips with SeamFil

But at least for now I’m able to move out the woodworking tools, clean up the major dust and start focusing on actually building the railroad.

View in youTube: The Industrial Lead – Benchwork Complete


I’ve spent the last few weeks prepping to put Formica atop my fascia. I was hoping for a truly professional look. In preparation. I mounted a 1/8″ hardboard fascia as backing. I reinforced the top and bottom edges of the hardboard by laminating additional strips of 1/8″ hardboard to the backs of the original hardboard. These reinforcing strips would also act as a guide for the bearing on a router flush trim bit. I bought a 30″ x 144″ sheet of black Formica and glued it to the fascia backing with contact cement. I trimmed the Formica with a Harbor Freight trim router with a Skil flush trim bit. Everything went good up until the trimming. What a disaster. I totally botched the trim job and it was super messy.


I attribute the botched trimming to a few reasons.

  1. I didn’t have a suitable guide for the router bit bearing. Maybe I should have installed a half inch of reinforcing strips, the problem I was running into is I couldn’t always get them to match up.
  2. The Harbor Freight router. The bit slipped from the collet twice. The face slipped numerous times.
  3. The Skil flush trim bit has an 1/8″ gap between the bearing and the blade. And naturally the 1/8″ hardboard fell into this gap several times, causing chip outs.

Now what to do. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy if I don’t fix the problem, so my options are:

  1. File out the small imperfections as best I can and cover the major ones with a smaller “trim” strip of Formica.
  2. Remove the fascia and do it over again. With or without Formica.

I’m leaning toward just ripping this out and going with a hardboard fascia.



I cut the remaining drawer openings into the bench work. I’ll now have three drawers on the east side and one on the south. I still need to make the fourth drawer, but I got busy painting the three that have already been built.

I started into some layout electrical. I sited my Digitrax DCS100 command station beneath the layout. I ran two buses: red/black for DCC & white/green for layout lighting. I also sited the Digitrax UR92 radio receiver.

I think I need to completely finish the fascia before I install the drawers and start laying track. I plan to be doing some more fascia work as time permits. I’ll also be installing the Formica fascia on top of the hardboard.

I didn’t want to bother myself with installing a sound decoder into my BNSF Kato SD40-2, so I bought a BN Kato SD40-2 with ESU Loksound installed from Model Train Stuff. It looks awesome. I haven’t tested it yet (no track wired up) but it comes with sound decoder and ditch lights. I wanted to have a locomotive on hand to start testing as soon as I could and this was my top choice.

Jul 012012

Lower Fascia

I started installing the lower 1/8″ hardboard  fascia. I had it cut into 6 1/2″ strips at Home Depot, but I wish I had just taken it home and cut it myself because most of the strips are not straight. The fascia is glued with PowerGrab adhesive and tacked with brads. I used a screws and clamps to help hold it into place while installing. I routed out openings for drawers (which causes a terrrible dusty mess).

I’m still considering a laminate countertop fascia. I think the finish would be much nicer. I kind of like Formica Black Matte.

Formica 909-58 Black Matte

Formica 909-58 Black Matte



I bought 2 1/2″ drawer sides at Rockler. The sides are nicely machined 1/2″ thick birch, they have a 1/4″ dado slotted out for a drawer bottom. I bought some 1/4″ Baltic Brich plywood for the drawer bottoms. Assembling the drawers is fairly easy: cut to size, test fit, glue, and clamp. I made three drawers. two for the east side and one for the south side. The drawers will be painted black before installing.


  • I tacked in 13″ hardboard skyboards around the layout. I’ll be painting these Polar White.
  • I cut painted and installed the south and east valance fascias.
  • I started work on an under layout workbench. The melamine workbench table top rests on a 1 1/2″ slotted angle iron frame. The workbench is 30″ from the floor.

West Valance

I completed the west valance. Mostly:) It still needs a little touch up paint. The valance fascia is hardboard. I brad nailed it to the valance frame. I installed my old Cryon LED lighting behind the valance; this will be my nightime blue lighting in this area.

Desk Complete

I finally cut the backboard and edged the shelves. I’ve also complete 90% benchwork and lighting work that needs to be done in this area, including: lighting, shelves, brackets. So I decided to move my computer back into the closet. I love it!

May 242012

I’ve been plugging away at finishing the desk and closet. It’s been a good way to stay inside while the weather has been rainy.

  • The big chore was wiring the closet raceways.
  • After wiring I added the lighting; a closet light (for low level lighting while using the computer); day lights; and night lights.
  • I added shelves below the desk. They are mounted on angle brackets. I still need to add edge tape to the front of the shelves. The shelves will store magazines, railroad books and miscellaneous computer stuff.
  • I drilled a hole for computer wires to go from above the desk to below the desk. Mounted a power supply below the desk.
  • I mounted a shelf bracket to the east side of the layout deck. This forces the layout deck back to level.
  • I also cut a larger hole from the main layout to the closet.

I still need to cut, paint and install a back board around the desk. And I still need to make some minor touch ups. But the desk area is mostly complete and I think I can move my computer back into the closet and get rid of this crappy old desk I’ve been using.



I added the keyboard tray to the bottom of the desk. Everything fits! Yeah! I still need to cut some trim boards to encircle the desktop and hide the gaps.

I’m done with the deck. It’s extended al the way around the room and into the closet. I put the last couple of pieces in today.

I’ve been sitting on the hardboard for the sky-boards for about a week. I finally got out the table saw and trimmed them to size then cut them to fit with the circular saw. I have a bunch of oddball sky-boards to cut now, mostly to fit around the windows and closet.

© 2012 Greg Amer
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