Building Building Foundations

Any project that starts with a new tool has to be a good one right?

IMG_2421New Milwaukee M12 Cordless Jig Saw, clean, clearly not used yet!

Thanks to the kindness of friends in coming to my house with portable tools and access to the woodworking shop at The Toronto Railway Museum where I volunteer, I was able to build all of the benchwork for my layout without owning any power tools other than an Impact Driver/Drill combo set. That’s great for the heavy construction, but I still need the ability to do things myself at home, especially now in an era of Social Distancing where we can’t get together with friends and build benchwork together.

As I am building the layout, one of the first phases of the structures, is building foundations so that I can work on scenery, but have bases for the buildings to eventually get mounted on, these will largely be buried, but will be visible here and there, so I wanted to make them out of MDF using a technique I picked up from a friend.

Getting set to cut foundations for the buildings on the layout from 1/4″ and 5/8″ MDF fibreboard.

Basically, the MDF is cut to size, sanded, and sealed with a “Sanding Sealer”, basically a varnish. Because MDF can absorb moisture when it is cut because it is pressed board, you need to seal cut edges. I learned this mistake the hard way myself as one of my dioramas built on an MDF sheet cut to fit into a shelving unit has curled at the two cut corners. Nothing I can do to save it now, it is what it is, but I can’t have that on the layout.

I spent a Saturday a bit back drawing all the outlines for the foundations in preparation for this, with copies made and them all cut out and pieced together, they were transferred onto the MDF and away I went with the jig saw to cut out the pieces.

Pieces cut out, sanded, cleaned and painted with sanding sealer on the edges to keep the MDF from absorbing moisture and expanding on the layout.

With my new saw in hand, and a nice weekend last week, I got set up on my patio terrace, and spent an afternoon cutting, sanding and sealing pieces of 1/4 and 5/8 MDF for building foundations.

Checking the fit of foundations after cutting to see if they need any trimming before sealing them.

I’ve since painted all the the ones that are small enough to paint in my spray booth other than two pieces that need to be re-cut, and three pieces that are too big for my booth. These will get painted outside on the terrace when the chance presents itself. I am really happy with the look, now just need to get motivated to take the next step of gluing them down and starting scenery around some of them. Onwards we go.

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