In this article on the 'Beginner's Layout' I will be talking about starting the scenery - or at least preparing the backdrop from which the scenery will develop. This entails a little bit of basic woodwork, and is quite simple to do.

I decided to form a sort of `enclosure' for the layout so that it forms a self-contained scenario, with wood panels on three sides. The one at the back will form the backscene, and also has the advantage of hiding the fiddle yard and all the other bits of gadgetry that the operator will use when running the trains. I have also added a strip of wood along the front of the baseboard for cosmetic purposes.

I made the panels from a couple of 4 foot x 2 foot sheets of 4mm plywood. It is difficult for me to give you an up to date price because the sheets I used were offcuts that we had spare - an old price ticket on one of them stated the cost as £2.16 a sheet, but then that is going back about ten years! However, I am sure that plywood is, even now, fairly inexpensive.

The first thing I did was to estimate the height of the backscene, and decided on a foot, bearing in mind that the height of the mill chimney (Metcalfe Models, I'll write more about this in a future article) which I was proposing as the main feature of the layout had to look in proportion to the landscape behind it. I then measured and cut four pieces of wood to the following measurements:

  • 1 piece 1 foot x 4 foot for the backscene; 2 pieces 1 foot (plus height of baseboard) x 2 foot.
  • 1 piece the height of the baseboard x 4 foot (plus the thickness of each side)

These pieces were cut using a circular saw for speed and ease. Take care using this machine as they can be dangerous. If unsure, either cut using a hand saw or get your wood supplier to cut it for you. After cutting, clean up any rough edges with sandpaper. The individual pieces were then fitted to the baseboard using wood glue and 3/4in. nails. The back scene board had two slots approx. 1.5 x 3.5ins cut at either end to allow trains through, and was positioned approximately 4 inches in from the back of the layout to make room for the fiddle yard. It was given added strength from the overlap of the side pieces, plus an extra wooden batten at each end which was glued into place. Finally, a couple of coats of varnish were applied to the board along the front of the layout to finish it off.

The layout is now ready for the serious business of landscaping which will be outlined next time. I am sorry this article is rather short, but I have not had much time to spend on the layout this time as other more necessary but boring activities have had to take precedence.