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  • Table Construction

    I have been using 3/4" thick sanded birch plywood for my slot track tables. This is a premium grade of plywood that in the past has cost about US$50 for a 4 x 8 foot sheet. (Although it is nominally 3/4" thick it commonly is only 23/32" thick. Confusing, yes, a bit, but not that big a deal in my opinion.)

    Due to factors I can only speculate about the price of this plywood has gone up significantly. Today I was quoted US$89 per 4 x 8 sheet in HPVA* grade B-2. This from a retailer that deals in higher grade materials than are commonly found at Lowe's or Home Depot. The best plywood Lowe's and Home Depot carry is HPVA grade C-3.

    Today I learned that there are composite plywood sheets available that have natural wood cores and MDF faces. I am getting pricing on this material. But I don't have any experience with it and I'd love to hear from folks who have. I am most interested in how stiff it is and whether it will tend to sag under its own weight, like MDF shelving does.

    Price is a consideration, but I will often spend more to get better material. My experience has been that money invested in better material often is well rewarded in the creation of the finished product.

    Ed Bianchi

    *HPVA: Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association, which has published grading standards for plywoods: grades A, B, C and D. A-1 is the best -- suitable for quality furniture. C and D are commonly used for sheathing and can include knots and voids.

  • #2
    I'm always looking for lightweight ways to make tracks.
    This is my HO MaxTrax oval "table". I laid the tracks out on two sheets of 1/4" (5mm, actually) plywood and then went around the track with a flush cutting bit equipped router. I then added 3/4" x 1 1/2" Poplar strips to the top sheet. The bottom sheet was screwed on after all wiring was done. Hand holes in the bottom sheet allow me to carry the track around. Pretty darned strong.
    For a routed flat track, I'd do the same but add a top sheet of 1/8" MDF (sold as paneling).

    MaxTrax and Shays 021.JPG MaxTrax and Shays 022.JPG MaxTrax and Shays 023.JPG
    Last edited by Wicker Bill; 05-10-2021, 10:40 AM.

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    • #3
      I don't have tools, a garage, not even a cordless drill. My apartment came furninshed so I'm not at liberty to dispose of stuff I don't want or to put it in storage. So I'm building a 4x16 4 lane 60 foot layout on the lightest table I can make it. Three sections, longest is six feet. All materials can be worked with a hand saw or craft knife. The top will sit on my kitchen table and desk that both came with the apartment, perhaps with a 4' collapsible table in the middle.

      I was going to use 1x6 sanded pine for my table, but that really has gone crazy; a board that cost about twelve bucks in 2014 now costs about 8 bucks a foot!

      Some nice contrast to the incredible cabinet and routed work I see here. Practicality and (I hope) function. Once I have the three pieces made I will souround the outside with 1/4" foamcore to protect the exposed foam edge from crumbling. Ideally the whole table (with scenery) weighs less than the box(es) of track it supports.


      20210425_150417.jpg

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      • #4
        ^^^This^^^

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