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I also started with Mianne as my base, and then things spiraled out of control!   Plywood has come down, but not nearly where it was two years ago.  I bought my 1/2" Baltic Birch multi-ply 5 x 5 sheets for less than $24/ea, this is furniture grade 11 ply panels.  I'm sure it's still way more than that now.  However, my feeling is not to skimp on the base as I'm putting thousands of dollars worth of track and switches on top, then running thousands more worth of trains on it!  I love the rigidity of the multi-ply, warping is simply something that ain't gonna' happen here!

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I agree with John - I have used 1/2" / 3/4" Baltic birch for years for shop cabinets and as the sub base for my layout with homasote on top. Not only multi-ply but each ply is laid down with its grain pattern 90 degrees to the ply below. This is what makes it so strong and warp resistant.

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Bottom cabinet is 2x4 framing with Baltic Birch drawers. The top cabinet is all Baltic Birch

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As comparison the cabinet doors on the left are pine.

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I also started with Mianne as my base, and then things spiraled out of control!   Plywood has come down, but not nearly where it was two years ago.  I bought my 1/2" Baltic Birch multi-ply 5 x 5 sheets for less than $24/ea, this is furniture grade 11 ply panels.  I'm sure it's still way more than that now.  However, my feeling is not to skimp on the base as I'm putting thousands of dollars worth of track and switches on top, then running thousands more worth of trains on it!  I love the rigidity of the multi-ply, warping is simply something that ain't gonna' happen here!

Hi gunrunnerjohn

I love the look of your 1/2" Baltic Birch multi-ply! Beautiful!

I have been checking out prior posts looking for bench work. I am starting from scratch and need benches before I can attach 1/2" Baltic Birch multi-ply. What recommendations would you have? I don't have the tools to build benches myself, so I am considering buying benches already made by someone else. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thank you!

Well, I started with the Mianne benchwork, it worked out fine.  There are several other places that have ready-made benchwork, but I have no experience with them.  You could also consider doing modular benchwork that can be built elsewhere and brought in.

As far as tools, you really don't need may specialized tools for the job.  I did spring for the DeWalt 10" jobsite table saw, and I had a 10" miter saw we used as well.  A jigsaw, sander, and maybe a router for the edges should complete the picture.  Oh, and I did use a power stapler and a nailer as well to secure the top to the benchwork.

Wow, I love it. So with Mainne, I could buy everything precut and then just assemble it in my basement? I would guess that they sell piece packages based upon layout sizes? So, for example, maybe I tell them that I want three 4x8 platforms and they would supply me with everything to assemble those three 4x8 platforms?

You just sketch out what you think you want the layout to look like, and send it to Tim at Mianne.   He feeds it into his CAD program and generates a BOM for your benchwork and a price.  Here's a couple of shots of what I got back for mine.  I did some changes on the fly after the fact, but here's where I started.  I ended up adding length on either end and eliminating the 2nd level shelf in favor of a train yard.  I also filled in part of the middle on the right.  When you get your Mianne shipment, it comes with assembly instructions for the job, quite a slick operation.  No sawdust until you start putting the top on...

If you have an afternoon to kill, you can see my build in excruciating detail here!

New Train Room Finally Getting A Layout!

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