George, That is great news about the retina!!
My dad taught me that trick to use scrap lumber to get a clean hole. The only power tool he had when I was growing up was an old power drill. I like your method of bolting the sections together. That would work great for a home modular layout that the only intent is to take the modules apart if you had to move or a very rare change of modules. I'm glad you are back at work on the benchwork again!
Yeah, I am very happy and relieved about the retina settling down.
It's no surprise that the clean hole technique is old, probably well over a hundred years old I would guess.
I've learned that there really is no practical way to build a permanent layout in pieces that can be separated or transported. You either have to go totally modular, i.e. designed that way or not. This particular method using carriage bolts is what I used for Panhandle 1.0. I really didn't give much thought to another approach. It works.
The innovation (if we can call something that simple by that term) is to drill wiring holes between tables before installing the plywood table top. I'm expecting that to aid greatly in running wires and keeping the under table clutter to a minimum.
I am trying to be very deliberate in my planning and construction techniques with this layout. Panhandle 1.0 was built in short 30 and 60 minute slices stolen from the relentless demands of work, family life, and kids. It was the product of hasty decisions, impatience, and improvisation - often with undesirable outcomes. Conditions are different now, and I expect the outcome to be much, much better.