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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, with me being new to the hobby, I need a 4x6, or 4x8 table for my N scale layout. The coffee table it's on now doesn't really fit into the long term plan for the railroad. Here is my dilemma:

1. I live in an apartment, so I can't really use tools like power saws, etc. to cut wood.
2. I'm pretty sure Home Depot and Lowes don't laser cut to exact specs, which could be a problem when building a table. They are also rough cuts.
3. I don't have a ton of room in my VW Passat for a sheet of 4x8 plywood
4. I went to Lowes today to look around and was surprised at how expensive the wood was when already pre-cut and it was a no for me in terms of price.

So what are my options? I can't seem to find any decent 4x6/4x8 tables on Amazon/Ebay for a good price. I really don't want to shell out $100 for a table, maybe $60-$70 max. Even the folding 2.5x6 tables cost a ton! Does anyone have any suggestions?
 

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Can you get by with 3 ft. width instead of 4 ft? I’m thinking of a 36” interior slab door. They will be 80” long.
I currently have an HO layout on two doors. Not ideal, because I run right to the edge, but I think in N the 3 ft might be more workable.
The advantages of using a door is that you don’t have to use framing for bench work. Just put them up on sawhorses or use 2x4s set on edge in the corners and screw legs into them.
Keep in mind you only have a small area around the perimeter of the door with solid wood to screw into.
One disadvantage is running wiring through it. I just make the holes a little larger than you would in plywood.
The other option is to not even use wood, but make a frame out of 1x4s and just use a sheet of 2” extruded foam board.
I have not done this but several members on here have and they say it’s plenty strong. They can advise you on specifics about this method.
 

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Not sure why an apt prevents you using a power tool for a few minutes. But I like the idea of a 1x2 frame with 2 in foam. Light and easy to handle. You could put it on saw horses when you want to used it.
 

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A couple points / observations:

1) Good lumber isn't cheap. Neither is furniture of any quality. Don't try to go cheap; you'll regret it later.
2) While no one in an apartment is going to let you set up a power tool shop, using one long enough to make a few cuts and drill a few holes shouldn't be an issue, as long as it's at a reasonable time of day.
3) Do you have a real lumber yard near you? Not a big box store that sells lumber, but an actual lumber yard? They will usually cut wood for you; for free if it's just a few cuts, or for a reasonable price otherwise. And they won't screw it up. You'll pay a little more, but worth it.
4) Get 3 x 8 foot 1x4's; 3 x 8 foot 2x2s, and 2 2x8 sheets of 2" extruded foam board. Cut one of the 1x4s in half. Use the uncut ones for the long sides and the cut one for the ends. Glue and screw it together,, making a frame. Cut all the 2x2s in half. Use one to make 2 joists at the 1/3 and 2/3 points of your frame, and the other 4 pieces to make the legs. Set the two foam boards inside the frame, resting on the joists. Some triming may be required, so lay it out before you glue it up. You may need some small braces for the legs, but this will be a light, sturdy layout area that you can build for about $100. If you attach the legs with wing nuts, you'll be able to remove them and store the layout when not in use.
 

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well I'm using plastic folding tables from HD. I think they are roughly 3 x 6' ... course I'm not fixing anything much to them much. I put out some heavy felt on top and some pics behind... this worked pretty good for my interest with o. in trying the same thing with ho, it's not quite so immovable. also HDs I assume all have a kind of vertically mounted circular saw table and will cut to measure... I have thought about putting either pink foam or similar under the felt... then things could be a fix through to it... but never tried it. folding tables were cheap enuff.
 

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craigslist

Get a kitchen table from craigslist, look for one you can take apart for hauling. You may be able to fit a decent size layout on it using pink foam boards.
 

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We also live in an apartment. We are building on 2.5X6 folding tables. Setting two side by side will give you a 5X6 layout. I've been finding them on Craigslist for $20 and actually found two plastic ones for free.
 

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Hey there and welcome to the hobby! I’m pretty new myself and was in your exact same situation earlier this year. I was daunted by the task of building a train table in my Queens apartment too, but don’t fret, it’s actually easier than expected. Without any prior experience in the hobby or woodworking I made this train table earlier this year in the span of about 3 hours (a 6x3’ plywood sheet drilled into some supporting 2x4’s. This sits on top of a folding table!)

train table.JPG

In response to some of your questions:

  1. I don’t own any power tools except for an inexpensive electric drill for screws. I instead had all my lumber cut onsite at Home Depot.
  2. While they don’t cut to exact specs, I had my 6x3’ table cut without any issues. As long as you don’t request anything too demanding (i.e. - 6.3756 inches, can’t even provide a fraction there) the cuts will be pretty accurate
  3. You can always rent a small SUV or ask a favor of friend if you need transport. If it’s a one time deal getting the lumber from the store/yard to your apartment I don’t think it’s too much of a dilemma. Maybe you can even offer to not only repay your friend in beer but give them a place of honor on the layout and name an industry after them!
  4. Pricing I can’t recommend much, perhaps other members here can suggest a cheaper alternative than the big Home Depot/Lowe’s chains

Keep in mind this is unfortunately an expensive hobby, but there are ways to cut corners. I recommend scouring the internet for modeling alternatives any time you encounter a next step that may be expensive. For example I wanted to make a very small rock formation which didn’t justify buying a rock mold. I searched YouTube and found a literal zero dollar method by gluing together tin foil sheets, bending their ends upward to create a bowl, then crinkling the interior for the jagged rock surface. When I poured the plaster of paris in, it worked like a charm!
 

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ohhh nice an simple love it and its portable . so you can move it if needed. :D
well thar ya are mr pilot2fly lots of idea's hahahahaha have fun and post lots of pics i like to see pics. lots of them hehe
 

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What I'd try:

Use 1x3 lumber for the framework.
Get 2 8' pieces
For the cross pieces, have them pre-cut at Home Depot or Lowe's. You want them to be 46 1/2".
I would get enough to space them 16" apart.
Now just assemble the pieces in the apartment.

Choose your wood carefully.
Try to pick pieces that are as straight as possible.
Also, as "free of knots" as possible.

For a table top, with closely-spaced braces, I found that even 1/4" plywood works well enough for me. Some will say "that's not heavy enough", but again, it works well enough with sufficient framework underneath to provide support.

I DID NOT buy the cheapest. Instead, I bought two pre-cut 4x4 pieces of birch plywood.
These will fit cleanly-enough on your framework. The birch plywood is very free of knots and has next-to-no warp.

For legs, you might use 1x3 screwed together to form an "L-Shape".
One at each corner.

If you can't fit even 4x4 sheet of plywood in your car, consider renting one of the vehicles they offer for an hour or so just to get it home.

I used No. 8 wood screws to fasten the frame together, 1 1/4" length.
You should buy a "screw pilot" -- a drill with a countersink on it, makes everything "clean".

I used small flathead brass screws to secure the plywood top to the frame (again, pre-drilling the holes with a countersink to keep it clean).
 

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If you do all of your measuring beforehand, most of the big box stores and lumberyards will cut the wood for you. That would avoid needing to do the cutting in the apartment. Of course, that means trusting your measurements.
It also means trusting the big box employee to make accurate cuts. As CT Valley previously stated, going to a real lumber yard may be better in this regard.
When I worked at Home Depot years ago, we were required to be be able to cut accurately to 1/8”. Most of us could cut to 1/16” or better.
I think those days are long gone. Now, it’s the luck of the draw.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks all. I'm going to go with a 3 ft x 6 1/2 ft unfinished wood door slab and attach 3ft 2x4's to each corner for support
 

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aw man i was looking for ward to a table build hahahahahahahaha JK. have fun. and show pics yeppers
 

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I think the door will work fine, especially for N. Here’s a photo of how I mounted the legs. I also used 36” height. The L 2x4 configuration is probably overkill, but the more stable the better.
Have fun.
 

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A couple points / observations:

1) Good lumber isn't cheap. Neither is furniture of any quality. Don't try to go cheap; you'll regret it later.
2) While no one in an apartment is going to let you set up a power tool shop, using one long enough to make a few cuts and drill a few holes shouldn't be an issue, as long as it's at a reasonable time of day.
3) Do you have a real lumber yard near you? Not a big box store that sells lumber, but an actual lumber yard? They will usually cut wood for you; for free if it's just a few cuts, or for a reasonable price otherwise. And they won't screw it up. You'll pay a little more, but worth it.
4) Get 3 x 8 foot 1x4's; 3 x 8 foot 2x2s, and 2 2x8 sheets of 2" extruded foam board. Cut one of the 1x4s in half. Use the uncut ones for the long sides and the cut one for the ends. Glue and screw it together,, making a frame. Cut all the 2x2s in half. Use one to make 2 joists at the 1/3 and 2/3 points of your frame, and the other 4 pieces to make the legs. Set the two foam boards inside the frame, resting on the joists. Some triming may be required, so lay it out before you glue it up. You may need some small braces for the legs, but this will be a light, sturdy layout area that you can build for about $100. If you attach the legs with wing nuts, you'll be able to remove them and store the layout when not in use.
2 x 2s blow. The last time I needed some all I could find were the ones that were not for finish work, but framing. They were knotty and twisted. I ended up cutting them out of 12 x 2s on my table saw.
 

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2 x 2s blow. The last time I needed some all I could find were the ones that were not for finish work, but framing. They were knotty and twisted. I ended up cutting them out of 12 x 2s on my table saw.
Well, the thread died 5 months ago, so this response was kind of a surprise, but I would disagree. Lumber dealers, especially big box stores, blow. Find a decent lumber yard that takes pride in its products and you can find good, clear pine or hardwood 2x2s. But as you observed, ripping them from wider boards is always an option.
 
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