Sunday, July 17, 2011

Can we learn from the flat pack boys?

I've made three APA boxes/baseboards over the past week or so and it got me to thinking.
These boxes are so easy to put together and so rigid. So light and above all easy to construct. I feel that there must be something railway modellers can glean from the techniques that can be transferred to baseboard construction. Model railway baseboard construction has almost become some sort of science lately, with plywood girders and talk about aircraft construction. Modern materials like the pink insulation foam also have their place and indeed have helped me construct baseboards for layouts many a time. But if you're going to take a layout to a show you have to protect that foam and that is where you need some wood involved in the construction. So perhaps with the speed and simplicity of these boxes and more importantly their rigidity we can learn something.
With that in mind, for those who live 200 miles from an IKEA here's a look at APA baseboard construction.
Above: This is all you use to put the baseboard/boxes together and interesting looking screw (Thanks to Gordon on the Gnatterbox forum I now know that these are called Socket Cap Head screws)
Above: Construction in progress
Above: A close up of the corner fixed with one of those screws. I built my first baseboard without gluing the joints. The next two I glued the joints. It does not appear to have made things any more (or even less) rigid.
Above: Bingo! Done. Ten minutes to build the baseboard. A few more minutes to cut and fit the white polystyrene foam to bring the level of the track up to the framework. It will need a layer of cork to bring it up a bit further. But to all intents and purposes that is it.
I'll need to find a method of joining the baseboards together. Likely a coachbolt in the top framing and a couple of hinges with removeable pins at the bottom.
I'll keep you all posted on how that goes.
As you know. I'm no woodworking expert so I don't know how the construction methods used here could translate to a larger sized unit. Perhaps other more skilled people coud take the idea and run with it. If you do, let me know.


  1. Hi Ian,
    I believe that the assembly methods used by IKEA would not easily be transferable to DIY baseboard construction.
    Reason - The IKEA components are made to tight tolerances (I believe) using hi-tech machinery.
    This should guarantee KISS assembly no matter who puts the parts together.
    Trying to achieve similar accuracy in the shed or WHY will be difficult without a complete wood machine shop therein.

  2. Why am I not surprised that the Canadian IKEA stores don't carry the APA boxes...we are such a third-world country sometimes :o(