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Over the years, I've built benchwork from plywood and Homasote, extruded foam alone, extruded foam glued to hollow core doors, etc.

I want to build some light weight layout sections and I'm thinking of laying out a grid of 1X2s, attaching a layer of thin lauan (luan?) on top of that, then laminating a layer of extruded foam on top of that. Then I'm thinking of using another layer of lauan for roadbed. I've tried WS foam and obviously cork and I'm not excited about Homabed ($$$) or ceiling tile (possible inhalation hazard).

Opinions? And how does one bevel lauan roadbed? I do not have a router.



Active Member
I had never heard of Lauan until this past weekend when I went to a local hobby shop for a small show. There was a sectional HOn3 layout that the onwer and I discussed lightweight benchwork techniques. The layout base was 2" pink extruded foam. The basic frame was 1x2 dimension lumber with Luan in place of Masonite facia. He also used luan for the road bed attached to the foam for roadbed and placed the track directly on the luan. I was impressed with how quiet the layout was, no gear noise transfered to the big kettle drum skin of plywood. The road bed had no profile bevel as the railroad was a log hauler. The layout was a loop to loop with straight sections about 6'x2' and the two 4'x6 end loop sections. He stated the end sections weighed in at about 25#s.


Is there a reason for using the Luan for the roadbed?

Well... I don't care for the WS foam and while I used cork on my latest, I had to sand it down to what I considered a good height. I'm considering cork sheet (thinner) but that might involve a lot of waste. I can buy a huge roll of cork underlayment though for about $120 from HoPo. Lauan is a possble alternative. Maybe.

Haven't been to DT yet to see if I can find the foam product you mentioned.


5th Generation Texian
One thing to remember is that styrofoam (either blue, pink or expanded (white beads) must be covered to meet most building codes.

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