Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Train Rack Tutorial

Max has many loves. Race cars, stuffed animals, his Tansy Dolls, cooking, digging, construction vehicles, dragons, and Legos all rank very high. But Max's first love is trains. Steam trains are his favorite, but he also loves modern freight trains, super-fast bullet trains, monorails, streetcars, trams, the zoo train, and pretty much anything else somewhat train-like.

He has several different sizes and types of train toy, but by far his favorite are his wooden trains. They are mostly Thomas the Train toys, with some Brio and other compatible ones mixed in. When he was about 2, Max received a huge hand-me-down train track collection from his Uncle David. Since they're his favorite toy, he's been adding to that collection steadily since then. Birthdays, Christmases, special treats, allowance money; most of it goes towards train stuff. The collection is massive by now, which poses some cleaning issues. One of the biggest challenges is the trains themselves. He wants to be able find the specific one he wants so he dumps the bin all over the floor. Constantly. It was finally driving me crazy, so I decided to make some nice display shelves for them. Now you can too! Here's how...


Train Rack Tutorial

Supplies (per rack)
8  8" straight wooden train tracks, Brio compatible
~20" wooden trim board 1.5" wide, mine was 3/8" thick
wood glue
16 #18 3/4" wire nails (or similar)
picture hanging mounts and nails for hanging final rack

Tools
saw
hammer
ruler
level (for hanging)

Time
Maybe an hour, start to finish

Total cost if you buy all supplies new (instead of stealing tracks from the kiddo's collection) is about $20 per rack, give or take. Much less if you find used tracks.

Here's how...

 Start with 2 of your tracks, like this. Cut the little nub off one end of just one of them.

You could toss this, I suppose, but I glued mine into the other end of the uncut track so it wouldn't have a big hole in one end of the shelf. So apply your wood glue to the nub...

...and glue it in to the end of the uncut track.

Now apply glue to the other end of the uncut track.

Connect it to the cut track and set aside to dry. Repeat with your other pairs of track until you've used all 8. Obviously, I was making more than one rack here.

Now, get your side pieces ready. I cut 2 lengths of 9 1/2" out of my trim board.

So that I could line everything up nicely, I made marks at 3", 6", and 9" to line up my shelves.

Apply glue using the marks as a guide, then lay out the shelves.

This is what you're going for at this point.

Once everything is spaced nicely, glue the side pieces onto the track shelves. Hold in place for a few minutes or use a big wood clamp if you have one. (I just held everything for 30 seconds of so, then let it dry for another 5 minutes.)

Here's the hardware I used. 

Once the glue is dry, put the rack up on one end, and nail each shelf in place through the side pieces. I used 2 nails per shelf per side. 

Now secure you hangers. I used picture hangers attached to the side pieces (it is wicked hard to nail into those tracks!), then secured with a nail. 

My 5 finished racks.

Hung and waiting! Don't mind the messy room. :)

Racks full of trains! Trains not on the floor! 

Max loves them. The horrible part? I have to make more! Ack!

Anyway, there you have it! Now, I think if you tried hard enough you could find the wooden track material without the male and female ends so you wouldn't have to do the cutting and gluing, but I went with what's readily available. You could also make these with just flat boards, but I know from experience the trains don't stay on very well. They also make road-style tracks if your little one is car-crazy instead of train-crazy. 

I hope you enjoy this and it helps your house as much as it's helped mine! Send us pictures!

TTFN!
Cady

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