A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

March 15, 2015

Ivar - Instant Benchwork

I have used Ivar shelves from Ikea as model railroad benchwork under the part of Aquia Landing  of my O Scale layout that is in my workshop. It is the perfect height for my benchwork. I decided continue to use it for the benchwork under the new modern harbor layout. I want  the track level no higher than 51 inches, as this will allow me to run a track under the stair landing to staging, if I decide to do that. It is also the height of Aquia Landing track, leaving me the option to extend Aquia Landing in the future. The trick here is that the new smaller TV is 48 inches high at the top edge. So any layout fascia can be no wider than 3 inches, at least as it crosses the TV area to avoid interfering with the image on the TV. Note this is assuming I continue to use the TV stand seen in the image. I would prefer not replacing that as it in good shape and works well.

Instant Ivar benchwork. The picture frames will be removed and the walls painted sky blue. I will probably go with a black fascia for this project.
 Why use Ivar? I compared the price of the Ivar shelves with home made plywood shelving. The Ivar was much less expensive and easier to build.

For use in this part of the room, which houses a TV, stereo and several display shelves, I decided to stain the vertical members black. I will leave the shelves natural wood.  The Ivar pieces are somewhat raw when they come from the store and need some finishing for use in a finished room.  The new shelves will be expand the amount of shelf storage in the TV room by about 250 percent. This will allow me room to display some of my dioramas and small collection of Porsche race car 1/43rd scale models.

I used Miniwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (water based) on the uprights. Then I applied Miniwax Polyshades Black Stain. This later product is not water soluble and needs about 6-8 hours to dry.
Once I have the shelves completed, I will add  a  layer of 1x2 grid benchwork screwed to the Ivar legs. On top of that will be 1 inch of foam and a layer of 1/8 inch plywood under the track. The 1/8th inch plywood is soft and can be spiked.

So far the most time consuming aspect of this job has been waiting for the stain to dry, and fighting the crowds at Ikea (where my mom and I spotted Marty and Chris on Saturday.)


  1. Glad you and your mom found what you needed… our search for a display shelf for the schooner and a rug for the family room meant we left Ikea empty handed. Note: DON'T go to Ikea after 1200 on Saturday...

  2. Bernie,

    I also used the IVAR system to build my home layout on. It provided me with plenty of storage space for all my rolling stock and modeling stuff. It's sturdy and easy to set up (http://atsf-surfline.blogspot.com/search/label/Benchwork) On top of the uprights I screwed one L-girder along the wall and one to the front of the uprights.
    I even use IVAR legs for my modules and show layouts because they are so easy to set up and give me storage space off the floor to put my stuff. Normally a curtain to the viewers side finishes off the layout.

    I'll keep watching the progress of your layout.

    Alain Kap