Today your intrepid correspondent has dusted off his long lost (some would say still lost) wood working skills, and made a start on a layout. I had purchased some real wood (no more of this MDF crap, unless I can't use anything else) earlier in the week. To get it home in the back of the car I had it cut into 4' by 2' sections. I also purchased some cheap 19mm by 90mm pine boards.
What follows is a bit of a departure from the normal methods of building layouts. Instead of solid wood frames, I'm building wood beams like a real engineer would. This idea comes from Barry Norman, who's work I have followed in the model press for quite a while, but mostly from the book 'landscape modeling'(which once belonged to the late great Brian Cross), where he describes a (then) new method for building baseboard structures. A weakness of using plain wood form the structure is that over time it can warp unless a fair bit of bracing is involved. Mostly in these cases adding strength means adding weight, to the point where the main structure feels like it has been made from concrete. Barry's answer was to build the baseboard from beams. The sheet of plywood (in this case 7mm thick, and the cheapest I could find) was cut into 90mm strips on a sawbench. Some 90mm pine planks were also cut up to the same dimensions (cut everything on the same setting and at least one dimension will be the same during assembly). Taking a ply strip, glue and nail (with brads) a block of pine at each end, making sure that they are square, and that the end grain of the pine is facing upwards. Then glue (and nail) 2 intermediate blocks to the beam.
The second piece is then nailed and glued to the other side. Why are we bothering? because we now have a 4' long beam that will not warp or bend (due to a few engineering principles that I'm not overly sure about, but which are apparently used in the real world) and is also quite light. I'm going to cut out some holes in the beams to see if they can be made noticeably lighter without sacrificing any strength.
The product of tonight's work, six beams which are enough for 12' of layout.
Next up I'll be doing the cross bracing and working out how to tie it all together. I do wish I had paid more attention in woodworking class.