A model railway dining table – Part 11.

August 24th, 2014

The table is finally nearly finished. Joss came up with some screws for the corners, the sides and the castors. I added two counter sunk screws to each corner from underneath.


For the sides I worked out a nice pattern using magnets to see what different spacings would look like. In the end I just went for an even spacing down both sides. The screws are zinc plated domed slotted screws. I removed the zinc by sticking the heads in hydrochloric acid until the bubbling stopped.


The strap around the edges was taped then marked, punched and drilled. You need three bits for this. A pilot bit, one sized for the screw threads then another sized for the shank of the screw. To get the depth of the shank drilling I wrapped tape around the bit at the right level. Drill down to the tape and the hole will be the correct depth.

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One annoying thing about my drill is that it has a ‘handy’ LED light in it that is totally useless. It’s positioned so that the chuck shadows the light completely and no light goes on the actual bit itself. Pointless really.

You can see above the plastic sheet on the floor in preparation for the next step – oiling!

I took the top outside and left the rest indoors. I used boiled linseed oil thinned 50/50 with turps for the first coats. The oil is put onto a rag then the rag rubbed over the wood. The wood soaks up the oil and leaves a nice, warm finish. It takes many coats. Thinning it makes it easier for the first coats to penetrate the timber.  Joss told me the rule in theory is one coat an hour for a day, one coat a day for a week, one coat a week for a month, one coat a month for a year then once a year after that.

In practice I just did a  bunch of coats. So far I have used about 3/4 of my 50/50 bottle. Once that’s gone I will start in unthinned oil. I started with the bottom of the top and the underside of the table and the legs. I turned it upside down to make that easier.

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Then, after I had a bunch of coats on that I turned the table over and bought the top in and started doing the top of the top. Mike was off to the demolition yard for some things so I made use of his trailer too and got a sheet of 10mm ply to make a temporary top.  There is no point getting the glass until there is something to see under it. I cut the ply to size using my jigsaw. The opening in the top is square. Unfortunately my sawing isn’t so the gap around my temporary top isn’t quite even but it’s good enough.


I then had to come in (damn that getting dark thing in winter) although I kept putting on coats throughout the evening. So you could say I was on the turps all night! One thing people had warned me about was the linseed soaked rags spontaneously igniting. I didn’t see that as a warning so much as a challenge! So I stuffed the soaked rag into a tin and put that in my fireplace hoping for some ignition action overnight but nothing happened.


Still it does actually occur apparently so you do have to be careful with the rags.

This morning I got a brass finger pull thing from Joss so I added that to the temporary top board. It goes through the board so I added a block underneath as well as some foam strips to raise the board to the level of the rest of the top. The pull just means you can easily lift the temporary top off.

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Because everything is now oiled it’s slippery. To locate the top I was thinking of strips in slots or dowel pins but I didn’t like any of those ideas since removing the top might result in chipping of the top or the base where the strips or pins touch the wood. Instead I got some of the left over sticky anti slip matting I had (and used previously when planning the top) and cut that into strips and that is now preventing the top sliding. It is working well so far. Of course the table being on wheels means if you push the top the whole things moves. I need to get some wheel cups for it then see how secure the top is.

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Today I added the screws to hold the castor cups in place and kept oiling. The legs have come up really dark and the top and sides not so dark but overall the effect is good. The oil really brings out the warmth in the timber and it will  be a nice waterproof and hardwearing surface. All it needs is some oil wiped on it now and again. I will keep adding coats but I am already noticing that the oil isn’t soaking in as much now.

And finally I have useable table!


I think I might try eating dinner at it tonight.



One Response to “A model railway dining table – Part 11.”

  1. Austin 7 Special » Blog Archives » Update. Says:

    […] well as working I’ve been distracted by model railway dining  tables and other things (mainly work). I am visiting London for Christmas and New Years this year so if […]