Metal Benchwork

The brackets you posted are the exact ones I had fail. The one I bumped the diagonal bracket on was in the wife's garage with a bunch of holiday decorations in boxes, so wasn't terribly heavy. I was reaching for something under the shelf and gave it a good smack,but it deflected enough to just fold from the weight. It was on a 3 bracket shelf with 1/2" plywood screwed to all brackets and was one of the end ones. Kinda surprised me when it happened and that the other two folded from the twist.
The one in my garage, I stood up and my shoulder lifted it up just enough to disengage the little rectangular tab that goes threw the back. Needless to say, when I moved and didn't realize it separated, a whole bunch of crap crashed to the floor.
Maybe I'm just an unlucky doofus, but I figured I'd give ya a heads up of my experiences.
....It was on a 3 bracket shelf with 1/2" plywood screwed to all brackets and was one of the end ones. Kinda surprised me when it happened and that the other two folded from the twist.
Was plywood screwed to the bracket by one screw or multiple screws? Just trying to imagine how all three brackets would twist around if they were all screwed to the plywood multiple times, fore and aft.??
Must have been quite a hard bump?

And were the brackets anchored into wall studs? I've had one fellow tell me he almost destroyed a stud ,....lets see if I can find that quote of his?....
Brian, I have used these brackets on a layout now long gone. I had 3/4 plywood mounted to them and held up very well. Of course they need to be mounted to studs such as you have.
Those brackets are strong; they'll pull your studs outwards if too much weight is on them e.g., climbing up onto the layout with a knee or two. When I removed my layout, I had to redo the gyprock's surface to hide where the brackets warped the studs out a tad.

The one in my garage, I stood up and my shoulder lifted it up just enough to disengage the little rectangular tab that goes threw the back. Needless to say, when I moved and didn't realize it separated, a whole bunch of crap crashed to the floor.
Maybe I'm just an unlucky doofus, but I figured I'd give ya a heads up of my experiences.
I can imagine this happening, particularly if the tack weld were not that good. Perhaps I need to consider some sort of reinforcement to those tack weld sites. And I do appreciate the 'heads-up', that's one of the things the forums are about.

I see this as a successful installation,...
Over the past year I have been thinking and experimenting with ideas for my benchwork for my new layout in a shed.

older quote
I was over at my local metal scrap yard this past Fri and noticed some hollow square steel tubing they use to mount street signs with. Its 2" square verses my flanged 1-1.25" bed rails, and its really strong, and its galvanized. So now I am definitely considering this stuff.

I was originally considering making vertical brackets at each of the wall stud location to support the plywood shelves. then I ran across these steel square tubing at the local metal scrap yard.
My contractor friend. who was going to weld up the considerable number of vertical brackets I had sketched up, came back with an interesting idea. Why not lay these square tube 'beams' horizontally along the walls and lag them into the wall studs. Then the plywood shelves (decks) could be attached along their wall edge and cantilevered out. And where the shelf/deck is of a substantial depth, the outer edge might also be supported primarily by another long piece of this horizontal square tubing with only an ocassional vertical support.
I am now planing on utilizing this 'horizontal framing' idea on my staging track level and my lower primary deck. I may even utilize the idea for my upper deck, particularly as they will be more shallow than the primary deck. I will definitely utilize the larger 2" square tubing to support the lower primary deck. For the staging level (relatively shallow), and the upper deck I may utilize my 'bed frame angle iron'. I'll document this more thoroughly as I get to building it.​

Quick update,....the first piece of horizontal steel tube framing along the back wall of the shed. The large size square tubing is the type that will be utilized to support the edge of the plywood deck next to the walls.. This will be selectively placed around the perimeter of the shed. There will also be central pieces at the inner edges of the shelf somewhat like shown on this preliminary dwg.





Really? Why would you use something so heavy and hard to work with for a job that can be easily done by a pine 1x2?

It's really not as heavy as it looks. And it really is STIFF and strong enough to bolt my 3/4 plywood to and maybe just cantilever it out with very little other support. I will have virtually no need for multiple vertical post. I have no need for plank-on-edge stringers under the plywood/foam subroadbed.

This also allowed me to put my staging tracks relatively close up under the lower main deck, which in turn probably saved me adding an extra loop in my helix down to staging.

I admit it looks heavy duty/overdone, but it has saved me extra heights and lots of extra materials, and will likely give me a pretty clear space underneath for storage/access.

Not so hard to work with,...cut with a chop saw with metal blade...not much drilling as it already had MULTIPLE holes. Just lag bolt to the studs behind the wall. Not really that much material in total.

Had I not gotten that used 'highway sign post' material from my local scrap yard, I was considering using old bed from metal, or old channel iron from used metal shelving. I have some of that as well that I might use selectively in other areas (upper deck??). We'll see.
In your drawing above - What holds up the center portion of the layout ? Looks to me that it just ends in mid-air? Does it indicate that there is only ONE SUPPORT more or less in the center?
Help me - I am lost?
If nothing else this benchwork idea went pretty quickly today. In 4 hours this afternoon I got a number of the other beams up for both levels,...including those 14 foot long ones by myself.



I had to tilt the plywood out from the wall on this side to get the beams in behind them,...



One item that made things go quicker is my use of those 2x4 'vertical specers' . I used those longer ones to hold the lower beams in place off the floor while I drilled and bolted the beams to the wall. The shorter 'spacers' were used to locate the upper level beams up from the lower ones.

I had a spare piece of 3/4 plywood lying around and decided to set it in over in one corner. It was not bolted onto the beams as I do not have those bolts yet,...and I was still trying to determine the exact method/tools I need to countersink those carriage bolts into place.

I also had a couple of pieces of the steel beam material that was close to the vertical size I might need. Placed that under the outer corner there, ...(that 'foot piece' is something I've had laying around since I first moved my carport support columns outward in order to get my shed back under my carport,...somehow I figured I might find a use for them,...waste not, want not)



BTW, just a simple chop saw cuts those metal beams (belongs to that construction friend)

I've been working on finishing up my 'metal benchwork' the last 2 days. I'm sorry that the photos can be a little confusing because of all the backgound mess in the shed.

Basically you will see that I have completed the 3 levels of square tubing that surround the walls and will support the cantilevered plywood decks. ....upper deck, lower main deck, and staging level below main deck. The center peninsula beams are just mocked up in these photos. I finished the proper bolting of them today, but did not photo them yet.

I'll be cutting some plywood decks starting next week.




I'll have a few better photos next week, and I need to do an updated dwg of plan.

Hopefully you can tell it is pretty minimalistic overall for supporting 3 decks, and it will allow side access to the decks with very little obstructions (probably have to get some plywood decks on it before that becomes obvious).
Finished up most of the metal benchwork yesterday. Was going to start cutting some of the plywood decks (staging ones first) this weekend, BUT first I need to cook up my version of chili for our neighborhood chili cook-off, then we have the football playoffs tomorrow,...sounds like a busy weekend.

First image,....just a working copy sketch as final dwg not done yet


Up at the helix end of the layout there are now 2 crossbeams that stretch all way across the plan,...the one shown here at 3 feet from the wall that supports the lower main deck with turntable, etc mounted on it.

There is a second beam up at the upper deck that will likely be only 2 feet deep, and support the timber mill, etc. That beam is seen here with a piece of plywood laid across it and the wall beam (angle iron in this case)


This image mocks up the 3 levels, with a paper plan of the staging level at the bottom. I believe it can be seen that I have an adequate space between the 2 main decks, and plenty of clear space for backdrop images on the main deck level.

Maybe a little difficult to tell here, but I feel the space between the main lower deck and the staging tracks is going to be quite comfortable. AND you are going to be able to reach in from either side,..almost unimpeded.



There are VERY FEW vertical post to content with. First this one at the center of the crossbeam that supports that center, AND the 2 beams stretching down the peninsula. Worked out nicely how they bolted together.



At the end of the peninsula,..


Metal Benchwork Kits

from another forum....
Great idea and nice work in your entire post. I got tired of sawing wood, measuring wood, drilling holes, sweeping up sawdust, carrying all of that stuff to the train room so I decided to visit one of the big box hardware stores and look for options.​
I saw the brackets and metal pieces but you still had to drill stuff to the walls and cut wood. I'm getting lazy in my older years, then I came upon work bench kits that measured 4 feet long and 2 feet wide, just right for me and each table is 36 inches or so high. I know that many like their bench work higher but for me sitting in a rolling desk chair the height was perfect.​

Now it does come in kit form and you have to put it together but it doesn't take long, in fact I bought 8 kits and had them all together and up against the wall in less than an hour. I had to buy two more to complete the around the all bench work but no measuring, no cutting, no drilling, no screws, no gluing, you get the picture and I'll put some pics on the forum but in less than an hour you can have that much bench work up and ready. It comes with a plywood top that fits in the frame and a plywood shelf underneath for storage.​
I then cut with a matt knife the blue foam in 2' by 4' sections and placed them on the top with white caulk. I then caulked the thin blue strips from my big roll of sill insulation, comes in a roll, pretty big, 6-8 inches by umpteen feet for a few bucks, in place of cork. Caulk the flex track on top of that, drill holes for the track leads to the buse wire underneath and your ready to run trains.​
I had it all up and running in two days, the layout is 12 by 12 feet around the walls. I did bolt the tables together, easy to do, for stability.​

The pictures I have posted on this forum is that layout, I will post pics of the tables and give everyone a better idea of what I did. But boy it was an easy way to build a railroad, and you can buy more table to make peninsulas, (whatever), and make it as big as you want. By adding layers of foam you can also create elevations etc.​
Robert Sylvester​
Newberry-Columbia, SC​
I have built my current layout on metal bench work. I must admit yours looks very sturdy and very thought out, nice layout too.​

As I said I got tired of cutting wood, drilling holes, carrying lumber, sweeping up saw dust so I decided on an alternative when I saw portable work bench kits at Lowes. I suspect all of the big box hardware stores sell a similar product.​

They are easy to assemble right out of the box, takes about ten minutes. No screws, no cutting, everything fits together.

This is a completed table, you can see the slide joints at each corner with a plywood tabletop and a shelf for storage below.

Close up of one corner and you can see how the legs just slide in to support the top and shelf.

This is a corner where several tables come together, I run bolts through the leg to give the tables some stability.
After lashing the tables together I apply sheets of blue foam, 2' by 4' which becomes the base then I apply the blue sill seal material which comes in large rolls for the track bed after cutting it in 2 inch strips, I adhere it to the blue foam table top with white caulk as I did with the blue foam track bed. The track then goes on top of the thin blue insulation using white caulk.​

I did creat some gaps between tables for scenery as I did here with a bridge running over a river,

It's an around the wall layout and you run trains from inside so I created a lift out, but I just duck under to get inside.

The layout actually measures 12' X 14', and it is set up for continuous running and I like that. No time tables, no car cards, I just run trains from many different roads.
The table height is 3 feet off the gound, I can sit in a desk chair with wheels and move around with a walk around throttle to run the trains.

As you see I have plenty of storage space under the tables and it help to keeps the room fairly neat.
I have begun to add some fascia with thin fiber board to clean up the appearance, it will eventually be painted a light earth tone.

This an aireal over-view of the layout. Lots of buildings but I like that, and I like just watching the trains run. I have so much rolling stock, engines, passenger cars, and frieght cars that I can change things when I want too and run all kinds of train.
of trains.
Well, that's my metal bench work. Easy to set up, after the track was laid I drilled holes around the layout and soldered track leads every three or four feet and soldered the wires to the buse line underneath, so I have good electrical contact all of the way around the layout. Believe it or not I had all of the tables built, foam foundation, track roadbed and track wired in about two or three days. Over the last two years I have been adding buildings, details, streets, street and building interior lighting, and signals and they all work.
My objective has been to run a nice, yet small railroad and have fun. It has worked out pretty well.​

Robert Sylvester
Newberry-Columbia Line, SC​
Another gentleman's metal benchwork..

Angled Profiles

This is my approach to metal benchwork using angled profiles. Currently, I am at the staging area, then moving up to two scenicked levels above. I plan to combine the approach with lightweight foam-base detachable scenic modules that I can work on at the workbench.

Regards, Carlo - Switzerland
[H0m DCC] Layout "Rhaetian Flyer": Swiss Meter-Gauge Proto-Freelance RhB+FO+zB; 6% complete, partly operational; W10, Rocrail SW-Control, Rocweb, andRoc; CANbus GCA-Electronics; Bemo, Peco, some handlaid turnouts​