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Model Railroad Scenery: Tips on How to Build Great Scenery

Updated on March 6, 2013

Tips on Creating Model Train Scenery

If you are looking for a relaxing, creative hobby, building model trains could be a perfect fit. Designing and building a model train can be as simple or as complex as you would like. Here we are going to start with a few basics, such as benchwork, model train layout and of course, model train scenery

Part of the attraction to model trains for many is the history and sense of nostalgia. While the earliest model trains date back to the mid 1800âs, they were no way as realistic or sophisticated as todayâs model trains and model train scenery options.

Todayâs model train hobbyist has a wide variety of model train sizes, accessories and layouts readily available. Do you have a favorite period of time or fond childhood memory of a town or location? Many model train hobbyist recreate real locations or historical venues in their model train designs and layout.

So letâs get started and look a few of the basics youâll need in order to take the first step in creating your very own model train layout.

How to Build Model Railroad Benchwork - Images courtesy of Amazon
How to Build Model Railroad Benchwork - Images courtesy of Amazon

The Foundation: Benchwork

The foundation of your railroad is the benchwork. Train hobbyists have two options for benchwork: creating your own or buying a premade benchwork kit. Purchasing a benchwork kit has several advantages. Precut and predrilled, benchwork kits are stronger then a sheet of plywood on top of two sawhorses. Kits also have the option of being easily taken apart, which makes moving them to a different space in the home or taking it to a show much less work.

Building your own benchwork is more difficult and does take more time however, you have the opportunity to achieve your ideal image for your trains. Step one is to prepare a design for your layout.

To do this, you'll need to figure out how big your benchwork will be. Is it a possibility you may be expanding it at a later? How much space in your house do you have to place a train layout?

Images courtesy of Amazon

Top Rated Model Railroad Benchwork Guides

Top Rated Model Railroad Benchwork Guides
Top Rated Model Railroad Benchwork Guides
Model Railroad Benchwork
Model Railroad Benchwork

What Shape Do You Want For Your Benchwork?

Next step is to think about the shape you want for your benchwork. There are several choices such as circular, square, oval or rectangular. Usually the legs of the table are 28 inches but they can be altered to meet your designs specifications.

The most critical thing in benchworking is making sure that your benchwork is solid and will support the weight of your model railroad. {Keep in mind the best platform is 3/8 inch or 1/2 think plywood|The best platform is a 3/8 inch or ½ inch thick sheet of plywood.}. '

The benchwork must be strong and have the ability to support the weight of your railroad model. If you would like your benchwork to be portable, here's a tip -- cut the plywood into several pieces prior to you assemble your benchwork.

Model Train Scenery
Model Train Scenery

Model Train Scenery: A Few Basics

Perspective is a significant ingredient when constructing your model railroad scenery. The goal is to make your layout appear larger than it is. Try using assorted levels of scenery to help with this.

For example, placing taller trees in the front of the model and smaller trees to the back or on the tops of hills will help create this illusion. When choosing the items for the scenery, remember the theme you selected for the landscape.

For instance, a logging train line could be running through rugged snow covered mountains on its way to a near-by lumber mill.

Model Train Layout: Model Railroad Scenery

How to build a 4x8 model train table (benchwork) from plywood.

Best Sellers - Model Railroad Scenery Books

Best Sellers - Model Railroad Scenery Books
Best Sellers - Model Railroad Scenery Books

Model Train Layout: Model Railroad Scenery - Part 2

Model Train Scenery: Landscaping Features

There are unlimited options for landscaping features in your model railroad scenery: tunnels, farm lands fields, bridges and roads. You can also include towns or villages filled with houses and buildings.

Don't forget about the fine details of your scenery such as sign posts, stop lights, fences, hedges, hedges, pedestrians and animals. It's even possible to include waterways, streams or waterfalls.

Constructing model railroad scenery is an art form. It takes persistence, thought and attention to detail to make a realistic model. The only limitation to design possibilities is the imagination. So enjoy building your model railroad and take pride in designing dramatic and lifelike scenery and landscapes.

HO Scale Model Railroad Railway Layout

Here's a great video to give you a very ideas about model train scenery. This layout is HO scale.

Model Train Scenery - HO Scale

AmberCoco is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

What do love most about model trains?

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    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      5 years ago

      I love how all of this looks. I like watching model trains and the details that go into the scenery.

    • ModelTrainsForB profile image


      6 years ago

      I like how you have started with the Benchwork first, the main step and the one many forget should come first. Great lens.

    • EventGirl profile image


      6 years ago

      Lots of very helpful information, especially with the holiday shopping season here! What is the best scale is best for beginners that would like a nice model railroad, but don't have a lot of time to invest in details? I'm thinking this would be a great hobby for my Dad. Thanks!

      Miami Wedding Planner

    • Opportunityknoc1 profile image


      8 years ago

      I've shopping for a gift for my nephew and I'm doing a little research here at Squidoo. I love all the great lenses you have about trains. Very helpful!

      Starting a Catering Business

    • DogPackMom profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm thinking about getting my Dad a model train for Christmas, so I'm trying to learn a little about model trains. Good information, very helpful - thanks!


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