Part of the fun of model railroads is being able to build the scenery around them. Once you have gotten tired of setting up the train set around the Christmas tree and putting it away after Christmas every year, you might be ready to build yourself something more permanent.
The benchwork is the foundation of your railroad. Train hobbyists have the option of buying an already made benchwork or building one for themselves. Buying a benchwork kit has several advantages. Benchwork kits are precut and predrilled. Plus they are sturdier then a piece of plywood on two sawhorses. Also, with a kit, you can take it apart to move it to a different location in the house or to bring it to shows.
Of course building your own benchwork is more complicated and takes more time but, you have the opportunity to achieve your perfect vision for your trains. The first thing you will have to do is to create a design for your layout. You’ll have to figure out how large you want your benchwork to be. Consider if you will be adding on to it later on down the road. How much room in your house do you have to place a train layout? What shape are you planning for the top or your benchwork? It can be square, rectangle, oval, or circular. Typically the legs of the table are 28 inches but they can be altered to meet your designs specifications. The most important thing in benchworking is making sure that your benchwork is solid and can withstand a certain amount of weight. A good platform is a 3/8 inch or ½ inch thick piece of plywood. If you would like your benchwork to remain portable, you can cut the plywood into several pieces before you assemble your benchwork.
Keep perspective in mind when you are building the actual model railroad scenery. The goal is to make your layout appear larger than it is. You can try using different levels of scenery to help with this. Placing larger trees in the foreground and smaller trees in the background or on the tops of mountains helps with this illusion as well. Your scenery should also reflect the theme your have chosen for your landscape. For instance, if you are running a logging train on your line, it should be running through a rugged mountainous area filled with a ton of trees. You can also place a sawmill or lumberyard close by.
Other aspects that you can have in your landscape are tunnels, grassy meadows, fields, rock formations, roads, and bridges. You can also incorporate towns or villages filled with houses and buildings. Plus, you should also add fine detail to your scenery. Fine detail includes signs, telephone poles, fences, underbrush, bushes, flowers, hedges, people, and animals. A really nice touch is including bodies of water like ponds, rivers, streams or even waterfalls.
After all, isn’t one of the reasons we get into model trains is to be able to show off our artistic talent by building dramatic and lifelike landscapes? So get to work and amaze your friends with your amazing talent.