Building some cheap train shelves

Needing a place to store my trains, I decided to build some shelves so I could simultaneously store and display them when they’re not on the track. I used materials that I had on hand, exclusively. Other materials would have been better, but I didn’t have them.

I built the shelves on the front of my table. That space is otherwise unused, and four feet of shelf can hold five or six train cars.I used 1x1s to build the shelf supports. I cut them about six inches long, held them up to the table leg, drilled pilot holes, and then screwed them in. I placed them about 5 inches apart, so that the shelves would have enough clearance to comfortably pick up and replace cars.

The shelves themselves are made of 2x4s. Thinner wood would be much better–I could have had another shelf if I’d had anything thinner–but I wanted to use what I had. I have lots of 2x4s and could build the shelves with those in less time than it would take to go to the hardware store. I’ll buy thinner boards the next time I’m out someplace that sells lumber. I still have lots of table space to convert to shelves.

To hold the cars, one could lay a bunch of track on the shelves. Since most hobbyists have lots of track, and many of us had O27 and then upgraded to something else, this would be an economical and true-to-spirit choice.

I didn’t have enough straight O27 track for the job. So I cut 1-inch strips of cardboard, then screwed those to the top of the board. Yes, it’s cheap, but the cars hide the cardboard. One could also use 1-inch strips of balsa or basswood to give a better look.

Or, given the proper tools, one could simply cut two grooves an inch apart lengthwise into the wood.

One advantage of cardboard, wood, or grooves over track is that the cars roll very poorly on it, so cardboard or wood tends to hold the cars in place better.

With the strips secured onto the top of the boards, I then placed the boards on the supports, drilled pilot holes, and then drove one screw into each side to hold it in place.

At some point I will want to replace the wood with something thinner and nicer-looking than pine, and stain it to make it look good. But in the meantime, I have cheap storage for about 16 cars in about four feet of space that had otherwise been going to waste previously, and it only took me about an hour to do it. And it doesn’t look terrible either.

4 thoughts on “Building some cheap train shelves

  • May 5, 2004 at 11:57 am
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    I’m waiting for Jacques Pierre Cousteau Vermout Bouillabaisse le Raunche de la Stenche to comment on this regression. His opinion would be greatly appreciated.

    • May 6, 2004 at 1:32 pm
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      I suspected that it would not take long for my opinion to be solicited. However, joseph, I have little to say about David’s carpentry exploits. An aristocratic man of science has little time to concern himself with cardboard construction techniques, or shelf-building for childhood toys. I will say that one usually surrounds oneself with stimulating material. For patricians such as myself, this includes books – many of which I have written myself, some in several editions – and fine cognac and cigars. For David, watching a chain of tin boxes move about in circles is apparently enthralling.

      This article interests me as much as R. Collins’ treatise on the use of dung in Scottish roofbuilding, which is apparently his bailiwick. That would explain why he is always so mefitic.

  • May 10, 2004 at 9:49 pm
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    Raunche, in regards to the use of dung, I believe you are confusing roofing material with the material your automobiles are made from. My roofs are made from slate.

    David, of course, is showing his rabble status, but that has been proven time and again to be second nature, like dogs scratching themselves. Or, for that matter, Raunche scratching himself…

    Stimulation is a good thing, and I prefer fine brandy, cigars, books, and music, personally. I admit I may have a few investment-grade Standard Gauge trains in an attic somewhere–trains sized for an aristocrat–but I prefer antique radios.

  • May 11, 2004 at 1:58 pm
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    R. Collins, you did indeed use an “s” word to describe your roofing material. As for the composition of my automobiles, again you cannot comprehend the language of your English conquerors. I said that I am served dungeness crab on occasion in my automobiles. You then demonstrated the limits of your culinary knowledge by asking if these crustaceans lived in fecal matter. Ergo, your current confusion.

    Your sole redeeming factor, and I’m being generous here, is your interest in antique radios. Come the next clear night with strong signal reflectivity, we must have a listening session to catch those distant broadcasts. With some fine tobacco for my pipe (and snuff for you) and brandy at the ready, of course.

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