Plywood Thickness with Homasote

Kitbash Mar 6, 2016

  1. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

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    In the very early stages of starting benchwork. I've been pondering roadbed material and decided to use Homasote. I used this on my last Albemarle Division and liked it, so I'll go with it again. On my last layout I used 3/4" plywood and it was like a tank. I am considering using 5/8". On the first Albemarle Division, I used 1/2" plywood w/ cork spaced about 16" to 24" w/ risers and thought it "springy". I will have risers again 16" to 24" on average with Homasote. I've thought about foam, but I'm not confident or comfortable "quickly" mounting tortoise machines and other accessories from the bottom of the layout. The plywood seems "Kitbash" proof from the underside of the layout.

    My benchwork will be simple 1x4 framing with a plywood or Masonite skirt.

    I'd like to know what thickness/riser-spacing have others used here?
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    16 to 24 inch risers seems like a bit wide for spacing. In itself, that will allow "springy" to happen.
     
  3. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    These past two weeks I have been going to the local building supply places applying for employment. Lowe's, Home Depot and Menard's. I couldn't find Homasate nor did the associates know what it was. If I remember correctly it's a sound dampening board similar to particle board. Is this correct. I was told they may be able to order some but first I need some pay checks and an idea of what it's like. Also how strong and how thick is it?
     
  4. montanan

    montanan TrainBoard Member

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    I started building my layout about 30 years ago using the cookie cutter method. I used 5/8 plywood and Homabed homasote roadbed. After 30 years I have hod no problems at all. My risers are 16 inches apart. I started the layout by handlaying code 70 rail and turnouts but completed it using Shinohara code70 track components. I still haven't found much of a use for foam with the exception of a base for scenery. For me, I would never lay track on foam. I can see advantages of using foam on a modular layout that would have to be transported, but mine is a permanent home layout.

    The plywood gives a good base for mounting switch machines.
     
  5. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thanks. I started the first framing today. Got the perimeter bands cut and mounted for my staging area. Haven't put the joists in yet. I'm glad to hear you've had long term success w/ the 5/8". I don't want to drop down to 1/2" but my last layout cutting 3/4" was a pain.

    Shortround: I've never used sheets of homasote. I always ordered it pre-cut from Homabed in California. Yes, it cost a little more, but being a lone-wolf modeler, I can spend a little more and save a ton of time. The stuff I've used is roughly a 1/4"+/-. Can't remember exactly. I'll find out soon enough in a couple of weeks or so when I order more. My brother's been trying to talk me into going back to cork. I've used both and just personally, like the homasote better.
     
  6. jasonboche

    jasonboche TrainBoard Member

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    Anyone mind if I join in the discussion? I'm in the subroadbed selection stage myself. I'm going with plywood and not homosote (not saying there's anything wrong with homosote myself, I've seen a lot of layouts use it with success). One of the home stores I visited has the following available (other than birch and Sandeply, I'm only considering 5 plys or above and no sheathing):

    19/32" pine BCX 5-ply 4x8 $25.47 - 5/8" equiv.
    23/32" pine BCX 5-ply 4x8 $27.88 - 3/4" equiv.
    23/32" pine BCX 7-ply 4x8 $29.98 - 3/4" equiv.
    1/2" birch 3-ply 4x8 $39.95
    3/4" birch 5-ply 4x8 $49.98
    3/4" maple 5-ply 4x8 $49.98
    1/2" Sandeply 3-ply 4x8 ?
    3/4" Sandeply 3-ply 4x8 39.98

    Any thoughts on these for use as subroadbed and scenery platforms with open-frame joist spacing not exceeding 16"? While I was planning on using dimensional lumber for risers, it would seem it's also popular to use plywood for this purpose as well.

    5-ply birch comes with the highest recommendation from the highly experienced, paranoid, or both, in terms of providing the best support and resistance to warping.
    5-ply maple has a nice finish, matches the price point of birch, but isn't mentioned in subroadbed discussions I've read as birch is.
    My understanding is that each of the birch BCX options are cabinet grade or close to cabinet grade on side depending on the B rating.
    I've never heard of Sandeply before but it basically comes from a unique tree and is imported.
     
  7. PK

    PK TrainBoard Member

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    You're correct, Homasote is a brand name for a sound deadening board. I thought I've heard the big box stores carry similar products that aren't Homasote. It's 1/2" thick and comes in 4x8 sheets. It creates tons of dust if you use power tools, but it's a paper product that can be cut with a few passes of a utility knife. It's very dense and heavy but it's not a good structural material. You'll need plywood under it.

    Kitbash is the first person I've seen say they used plywood and Homasote when they meant plywood subroadbed and Homabed roadbed. I've only seen Homasote referred to as a subroadbed. In fact, most people put cork or Homabed roadbed on top of their Homasote subroadbed to get the correct profile. I understand Homabed is milled Homasote and he's technically correct, just be aware of the difference.
     
  8. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

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    No. I meant plywood and homasote. ;) But you are correct. I only think of homasote as roadbed since I've only purchased the milled product, 1/4" thick to use IN LIEU of cork. I mount directly on plywood. I have never used the 1/2" stuff nor wood I because of the mess and fuss involved.
     
  9. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the information. Perhaps those issues is why they don't have it on hand. I've also seen sound deadening ceiling tiles used for road bed. It's also easy to cut and transport. Use it with the finished surface down.
     
  10. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    For several N-scale layouts, I've used 1/2 inch Homasote on 1/2 inch OSB panels (wafer board...NOT chipboard) on 1x2 or 1x3 stringers supported by L-girder benchwork. The stringer centers vary from 12 to 18 inches depending on depth of the shelf and locations of Tortoises under turnouts). I drive screws through the Homasote and OSB panels into the stringers, and the stringers are screwed into the L-girders, so the benchwork is very strong...and not springy at all. I have used a Homasote/OSB panel lamination for the 1.5 inch wide loops of 3 of my 4 helixes with supports at the 8 compass points--12.5 to 16 inches apart for the bottom and top loops, respectively. On my first helix for the current layout, I only used Homasote and 1 inch wide loops, and had to double the number of supports due to the loops being too springy.
    Kellar Helix bowl-shaped 4'x5'6" oval (minimum radius15.5 inches at the bottom, maximum radius at top is 23 inches); Homasote/OSB panel lamination. Pekin Helix bowl-shaped 4'x4' circular helix (minumum radius 15.5 inches at the bottom of the bowl, and maximum radius of 21 inches at the top); 1/2 inch Homasote only with OSB panel supports 6 inches apart at the bottom of the bowl and ab0ut 8 inches apart at the top. I consider the Homasote/OSB panels to be my subroadbed, and I use cork roadbed under most of my mainline tracks.
     
    GSEC likes this.
  11. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    I decided on 1/4" plywood for my homasote subbase. With the 1/2" H'sote glued to it it's pretty stable on my 12-14" spaced supports. It will flex if you REALLY push hard on it but with N scale equipment weighing an ounce per car and 3-4 ounces per loco that's not going to make even 1/4" plywood sag. 1/4" works as sheets for yards and towns, too. And having an extra 1/4" inch clearance when the track/H'sote/plywood sandwich goes over another track is a plus.
    Just don't use H-sote by itself. I did once. You know how phone lines look, as they droop between poles? That's what H'sote by itself does between risers.
    I use cork for roadbed on top the H'sote. It's much easier to grade and smooth out for even, flowing track.
     
  12. montanan

    montanan TrainBoard Member

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    The precut Homabed is just what I used. Started the layout a long time ago and really liked the homabed for handlaying track and spiking the Shinohara track down. It holds the spikes very well.

    [​IMG]

    The majority of my layout is around the wall. Here's a cheap and easy way to mount the bench work to the walls.

    [​IMG]
    I used half inch electrical conduit. Cut the conduit the length you and add about four inches. Flatten out two inches on each end and drill a couple of holes in the flattened ends. Screw one end into a wall stud and the other to the inside of the benchwork. I used 1 x 4's. My bench work varies any where from 18 inches to over 40 inches deep. These braces are extremely strong. I had a 250 plus pound doubter sit on the edge of the bench work and it never budged. Also you won't be stubbing your toes on bench legs and it really makes it a lot easier to access the under side of the layout for wiring or installing switch machines. My layout averages somewhere around 48 inches.
     
  13. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Backshop:
    I laughed out loud when I read this, because it reminded me of my very first use of Homasote and L-girder benchwork back in the mid-1970s. I spent a weekend building the benchwork and cutting the stringers, but I ran out of time after cutting the Homasote (naively, with a dust producing saber saw instead of a utility knife), so I just set the 16" x 96" strips in place on the stringers (which were set on 2 foot centers) without securing them to the stringers. I then proceeded to vacuum up all the dust and, in the process, set all of my tools, materials, and a variety of odds and ends on the Homasote, because I knew several weekends would pass before I could work on the layout again. When I finally got back to the layout, those strips did indeed look exactly like drooping telephone lines!
     
  14. PK

    PK TrainBoard Member

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    While Homasote can be cut with a utility knife and I used a utility knife on my layout, I don't want to leave people with the impression a knife is easy in all cases. All my cuts were straight lines where it was easy to make several passes with heavy pressure. I can't imagine the time it would take to cut out the curved pieces for a single helix, much less your entire layout. I've heard of people using a sabre saw with a toothless blade to reduce dust, but I've never looked for one of those.
     
  15. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Frequently putting in new blades helps reduce the amount of heavy pressure and number of repeated passes needed. But, even so, cutting out a helix or an entire layout would be really tough. On my current layout, I used a saber saw to cut the Homasote for the Pekin helix (and Homasote and OSB panels screwed together for the other 3 helixes). I try to do most of my Homasote sawing outdoors, but cleanup inside has been easiest whenever I take the time to cover the surrounding area with a drop cloth. A woodworking friend of mine hooks up a shop vac to many of his tools to reduce sawdust and sanding dust in his woodshop...and, like the toothless blade, that approach might minimize Homasote sawdust in our layout rooms, too.
     
  16. Mr. SP

    Mr. SP Passed away August 5, 2016 In Memoriam

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    My home railroad is a shelf layout sixteen inches deep. It has 1X4 framing and half inch plyboard with cork for roadbed. The railroad is bolted to the wall with lag screws every sixteen inches.
    It's very sturdy.
     
  17. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thanks for the responses. I went "gung-ho' on benchwork this weekend an did the 16" thing as well.

    I sincerely appreciate the responses here.

    Here's a shot of my staging yard. "Almost" finished the framing. I have cars stacked up on scrap wood to simulate the final height of rail at about 45.5" at staging. One thing I did NOT contemplate was framing in an attic against the knee wall. I slammed the back band of the bench at the same height as the knee wall. Ooops. Have to build out to account for the sloped roof. But I was able to compensate and it turned out well.

    On to the next section next weekend.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  18. Rodsup9000

    Rodsup9000 TrainBoard Member

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    I've used to use Homasote till I heard about Micore 300. It a lot like Homasote but a lot more stable for expansion and contraction. I used Homasote in the staging and helix, but I sealed it with several coats of paint and so far no problems.
     

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