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After collecting for years, I am finally getting serious about starting a layout. I am posting this in search of tips and tricks for staying organized - particularly with a workbench.

It seems drawers and pegboards are popular, but what kind of surface is best? What's the MVP of your workbench organizing strategy?

With locos/rolling stock, do you prefer something like Glenn Snyder Display Systems or making your own cabinets? I'd rate myself a 7 out of 10 handyman as I can do most anything...just not well and I've only ever sawed one finger off.

Please share any best practices or links on this forum. This was helpful, but I couldn't find much more -

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Depends on what you are going to be doing on top of the bench.  I build a lot of models and so I almost always have 4 glass working surfaces on the bench - these are all ~ 20"x30" work areas. They are also on various underlayments such as carpet padding.

Lighting is critical. I have several LED shop lights.

The entire back foot of my bench are parts bins.  Most of the rest of the shelving are more parts bins and trays for specific materials and parts.

Commonly used tools are in several racks (3-7) that resemble oversized test tube racks - 2 hold just hemostats (10-15); 1 holds nothing but tweezers, etc. Another space hold 5-8 different scalpels........

Something else that I've found highly useful is to pause now and again while building (pausing for photography) at various stages and to clean up, clear the work space, and put all the tools away so that you can actually quickly find everything when moving to the next stage where you may need a slightly different selection of tools. Putting all those you do not need declutters the work space.

I do a great deal of heavy work on my workbenches and the tops take a beating.  I do have a bench that I do most train work and I built it the same.  The table tops are two layers of MDF.  Since I marr the tables a great deal I place on top of the MDF, a sheet of 1/8" hardboard.  I do not glue or attach this in any way only molding banding the workbench keeps the hardboard in place.  That way I can lift out the hardboard and replace it when necessary.

I have 15 amp and 20 amp outlets and an ethernet connection above my benches.  This picture appears to be before I banded the workbench with 1x2 and rounded it over to help eliminate gouges into the banding and for appearance.


The following is one of the reasons I like a replaceable top.



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Last edited by Loose-Caboose

My work bench's are used for all shop purposes not just model trains.  They  and the cabinets above them were made over 45 years ago and moved to 5 houses.  The cabinets are screwed to the wall studs and are removable.  I made these to last and to be moved so I would not have to rebuild them. I knew my job would involve moving every so often and they came with me.  A lot of thought went into my benches and cabinets and I learned from the bench I used of my father's who was a good wood worker.

My workbench tops are 12 x 2 inch wood.  The front one foot of my larger 6 ft long work bench is made of 2x4s on edge making it 3 1/2 inch thick.  The 2x4s are glued and bolted.  This bench has three sets of legs making is strong for pounding on.  The legs are make of 2x4s which is adequate because they are strong in compression.  Two 1x4s are crossed length wise to keep the bench from wobbling side ways.

My tool cabinets above the work benches use pegboard with racks of wire peg board tool loops and hooks for storing tools, like 80 pairs of pliers and over 100 screw drivers.  The sheets of pegboard keep the cabinets square too.  The cabinet is held up by two 1x12, 7 ft long boards bolted to the sides of the cabinets.  These boards are anchored to the wall with 1" x 1" angles and lag bolts into two wall studs that keep the cabinet from falling away from the wall.

I have sections along the sides about 14 inches wide and 4 inches high.  I do not have drawers as they are a lot of trouble to make and use and you can not see in them if they are above chest high.  Four of the sections on the right (since I am right handed) hold electrical tools like electric drills (30), Dremel's (3), sabre saw, and soldering guns.  I have extra tools from garage sales and often need to change bits or cutting tools and having several drills is handy.  All of these are always plugged in and can be reached while sitting on my bench stool with a back.  The shelves on the left hold a hot glue gun and hot air gun.  I am not into to battery powered tools as I have so many I could not keep them all charged.  The bottom shelf of the work bench hold heavy tool boxes and has room for my feet when sitting in the stool.  There is recessed 1x 4 inch board under the shelf to keep things from rolling under the bench and getting lost.

I have several electrical outlets like one on each side with six outlet adapters plus another six on the right for all the drills and two more under the bench with four each.  The bench has a 1x4 inch board along the back of the bench to keep tools from rolling off the back.

My main bench has a 4 x 10 inch Colombian wood working vise mounted on the right edge of the bench to allow cutting off board to the edge of the vise.  My other smaller 4 foot bench has 5 inch metal vise.  The cabinet has sections on the right and high sections on the left for long hand saws and 24 inch and 36 inch level storage.

I have a 2 bulb 48 inch florescent light above each bench and long armed desk lamps for close light.  The 48 inch lights are turned on with a switch that also controls another outlet that has an old car radio.

On the wall between my two benches is a 14 inch band saw, 15 inch drill press and 18 inch jigsaw.  Other messy power tools are in the garage.

More details and pictures are on the OGR link below including the mess they are always in.


Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

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OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
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