Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wooden Train Layout

So I've wanted to build one of those wooden railways layouts for my kids (you know Thomas the Tank Engine/Brio). I remember when I was a kid seeing those in the stores and wishing I could have something like. Well now I can, although I'll let the kids play with it to.

The Table

My Father-In-Law built the table for the kids a while back, it's a nicely made wooden table with just a plywood top and what I think are oak sides. It's survived my three kids for at least three years now. It was originally built to hold a wooden train but it was very useful for other stuff too. So we never wound up installing the wooden track onto the table. The end result was that the kids ripped it all apart and after a few days we would shove it into a box and say screw it.

The Track

After a quick trip to a few toy/hobby stores that all had fixed wooden track layouts my wife one evening setup a few loops of track onto the floor for the kids to use. That lasted about an hour before the youngest had the whole thing destroyed. My wife rebuilt it to surprise the kids the next morning. To none of our surprise once again my youngest destroyed it within a few minutes. So I decided that since they liked it so much it was time to stick the track to the top of the table. This of course involved a few trips to the hobby stores to pick up those few missing track pieces and some glue. After reading the back of the Gorilla/Rhino glue I wasn't sure I wanted to use that in the house (and being all of 8 degrees F outside I figured working in the open garage wasn't going to be pleasant either), so I opted to try out some plain old yellow wood glue. Which worked at first but only lasted a few days before, yet again, my youngest destroyed the whole thing.

Finally, I broke down and started using the Rhino glue. It didn't have that bad of an order to it and it certainly seems to hold well. The only downside is that you have to keep clamping the whole thing down (I used cans and jars as weights) so that it can cure properly. We also used some kids paint to cover the wood with greens and blues and once I am sure that they can't destroy this version I'll start gluing down the trees, buildings and signs for them.


  1. Small screws do the trick nicely. Then when the youngest is old enough, you remove the screws and the track is in great condition (other than the small hole from the screw) to actually build with (cause that's where some great learning takes place) versus the glue stuck onto the underside which can make a track uneven if the glue pulls off some of the board with it when you remove it. For the pieces you can't screw from the top (ie bridges, viaducts etc) go from the underside with a longer screw. Hope that helps! By the time your youngest is 2 and a bit, you won't need to worry about screwing things down - but don't know how long that is for you. :)

  2. And a nail gun works great too. Leaves smaller holes but nails are quite a bit harder to remove later. Finishing nails are the better option - take a little longer to 'install' but easier to hammer out. We've been there too!

  3. iwas told to use aquarium (silicone) sealer as it can be scraped-off the track, might ruin the graphic on the table... another thing is to only glue elevated pieces i.e. bridges & risers (that seems to have worked ok for my two-year-old.) They strongly urged not to use wood-glue... hope this helps.