Over the years I have tried most types of baseboards. When I started I used the traditional format of 2″ x 1″ for the frames and a chipboard top. I think my first three layouts used this formula, but due to the 2″ x 1″ traditional size getting smaller due to metric conversion or was it the suppliers wanting more profit! I then moved to 3″ x 1″, or the metric equivalent. Although this put my mind at rest as far as warping was concerned, it did nothing for ease of movement with the extra weight.
The next move was to move from chipboard tops to plywood, this certainly helped a little with the weight, but I still found the weight a problem. I even reduced the size of boards I was making to help with movement and setting up at Exhibitions. This still caused some problems because to get the layouts loaded into the car I had to ‘top and tail’ the two boards with bolt on sides to form one unit to load.
Around this time I purchased an estate car and this certainly helped, I could now load individual boards. This goes back over ten years now and although I still have the same car, a big decision has to be made regards the future as there is no way I can afford another large car. After trying different methods I really got nowhere, what I saved on weight, I felt I lost on strength. The nearest I came was using the sandwich method, two strips of Ply with softwood blocks to form the sides and ends.
About three years ago I spotted a couple of people offering ‘laser cut’ baseboards. I duly spoke to them both, and with no real preference I ordered two 4′ x 15″ self assembly boards. I really did not know what to expect. When they arrived I started to assemble them straight away. Within four hours I had two functional baseboards, they were very light and by the next day, after drying time, they were very strong. This was the way to go for me.
Conclusion, well for me, all my future Exhibition Layouts will be made using Laser Cut Boards, they do everything I want. However, if I was making a permanent layout at home, I would probably stay traditional and use 3″ x 1″ bracing with Ply tops, strong and cheaper than laser cut. So there we are, horses for courses.
One point I would mention is that the quality of wood has always been an issue. I never use pre-wrapped timber, from large DIY stores without asking an assistant to take off the shrink wrapping, I then chose the straightest wood. I really made a nuisance of myself once, asking the assistant to undo four packs!!!! Ply has less issues, but I always go for the better quality.
The below are 4′ x 2′ baseboards (2) with 1/8 Cork on top – for an O gauge Layout.