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Discussion Starter #1
I have just about everything planned out for my new layout. I am not sure what kind of wood to use. My layout will be a shelf design. Each section will be 2'x4'. I'm thinking of using 1"x4"s for construction but can't decide if pine or whitewood would be better. Obviously pine is stronger but more expensive. I plan on building in HO scale.
 

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Can't say I ever heard of whitewood...what is it?
 

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SPF #2 construction grade wood should be fine.
 

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I usually get knot free 1x2's but select the 1x3's or 1x4's to make sure they are straight. 1x2's and think Luan (??) ply make a nice strong but lightweight base for foam or whatever you want.
 

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I used 2x4 studs. This is way overkill. I had allot of them left from other projects, any new ones are cheep too. Never had to worry about bracing. Built my table same as building a work bench. It is on carpet sliders so I can move it if need be. It is real heavy. Look around and see if there is free scrap avilable.
 

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According to one of the videos at that link, whitewood is pine. I'd think a typical narrow HO layout like you described in your original post would not be heavy, so the least expensive wood should be plenty strong to handle trains and more.
 

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You might consider 1x3 instead. Especially for completed sections that are limited to 2' x 4' in overall dimension.

I'd pick through the "base level" piles at the lumber store. If you're patient, a few good pieces may be found.

If you strike out there, then look at "the higher grade stuff".
 

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I'm just using some 7/16" plywood for mine. I have an L-shaped setup with a couple regular (cheap) shelving brackets on each side screwed to the studs, and I'm using 1" pink foam on top which I plan to glue to the plywood. Hopefully that should give some added strength against sagging over time.
 

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According to one of the videos at that link, whitewood is pine. I'd think a typical narrow HO layout like you described in your original post would not be heavy, so the least expensive wood should be plenty strong to handle trains and more.
It appears that "whitewood" is perhaps a trademark name for what woodworkers call "clear pine", that is pine without knots in it. You certainly don't need this high quality for your benchwork. Regular #2 pine will work fine. Inspect for warping, bark, and plugged knots before purchase.

Like so much else in this hobby, there is no "correct" wood. Whatever works, works.
 

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I have just about everything planned out for my new layout. I am not sure what kind of wood to use. My layout will be a shelf design. Each section will be 2'x4'. I'm thinking of using 1"x4"s for construction but can't decide if pine or whitewood would be better. Obviously pine is stronger but more expensive. I plan on building in HO scale.
aschmr;

I couldn't agree more with your decision to build a shelf layout in 2'x4' sections. My own N-scale layout is built in 4' long x 16" deep, x 16" high "bookshelf" sections. I've also been promoting shelf railroads, and sectional construction for years. (see the photos & files below) As for wood, I think 1"x 4" lumber is somewhat overkill. 1" x 3" and 1"x 2" formed into an 'L'-girder would be more warp resistant, possibly lighter and /or less expensive, and plenty strong. My own layout is built with 1/4" Luan plywood formed into box girders and arches that support the bookshelf on top.. These weigh practically nothing, are incredibly strong, and totally resistant to warping. This is probably more work than most people would want to do. My most recent benchwork extension uses Luan arches with very conventional whitewood 1" x 2" inside. The strength and warp resistance inherent in 'L'-girder make stronger wood unnecessary. You probably should use decent quality, not already warped lumber, and that may rule out the whitewood in some big box stores. For my sub-roadbed, I use 1/4" Luan with 3/4" x 1/4" strips glued under each side. This forms a sort of inverted 'U' shape and is light, strong, and warp resistant.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 😊
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I have some high quality 3/4" x 4' x 8' plywood that I thought about ripping into 3" sections. It would take a lot more work and be heavier but would be a lot of cheaper since I got them for free from a rental property. That was another option I am considering.
 

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I have some high quality 3/4" x 4' x 8' plywood that I thought about ripping into 3" sections. It would take a lot more work and be heavier but would be a lot of cheaper since I got them for free from a rental property. That was another option I am considering.
aschmr;

3/4" plywood would be quite heavy, too heavy for me, but it's your railroad, so build it however you like. Do you think the layout will need to travel much? Do you want to be able to exhibit it at train shows? That would be a point in favor of lightweight construction. If the only time your layout will need to move, is when you do, then weight won't be as important.
Also as Flyboy says "Free is good."

Good Luck & Have Fun;
Traction Fan 😊
 

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Discussion Starter #16
aschmr;

3/4" plywood would be quite heavy, too heavy for me, but it's your railroad, so build it however you like. Do you think the layout will need to travel much? Do you want to be able to exhibit it at train shows? That would be a point in favor of lightweight construction. If the only time your layout will need to move, is when you do, then weight won't be as important.
Also as Flyboy says "Free is good."

Good Luck & Have Fun;
Traction Fan 😊
no I don’t ever plan on moving the layout until we move. It’s a shelf style layout so part of me is leaning to the play wood that could support the weight with added wood underthe layout for support.
 

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I used 2x4s for my benchwork in theory mine would be able to be taken out of my layout room if I took down the door and part of the wall but I don’t plan on going anywhere so I’m not worried about weight. My layout room is a 10x16 and the layout is roughly 36” wide On the sides 4’ wide on the back wall and 21” wide on the front wall. If I could go back and do it all over again I would have made the layout thinner so I could have better access to it. Sounds like you have a really good plan going for your build. You’re doing what I would be doing if I knew then what I know now
 

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I always thought about this... I see a lot of layouts with a curtain in front, hiding all the workings under the layout (plus all our junk ) built on 1x4 grid... What about building a cabinet style base.. Cabinets are basically plywood boxes on top of 2x4's ( kick plate ) .. It would be heavy, and takes more time, but makes for good solid base.. Doors can be whatever (plywood)... This is only an idea if you are starting a new layout... And you would need a "few" sheets of plywood and the time.. Just a thought..
 

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I like your idea of using the free plywood, ripped to 3" width. First, its free, and second it's like using laminated beams, they will be very strong and straight. Joints might require additional blocking. but a 2' x 4' rectangle with maybe a single stringer in the middle covered with 1/4 Lauan ply will be very strong shelf!
 
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