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entry 12 Aug 2013, 19:20
In the last post I talked about changing the way the baseboards would be constructed. Now they would be completely laser cut.

The major advantage of creating something laser cut is the precision. Using AutoCad, the various sections can be designed in “flatpack” form. Because all the pieces are precisely cut you don’t have to rely on your own carpentry skills to make sure that everything is square and aligned. You can build that all into the design. This all should result in a strong, crisp, professional finish.

The added bonus of laser cutting is that you can also have the track plan etched into the surface of the wood, making track laying super easy!

My plan has always been to get the outside edges of the hills laser cut, and then stick them to the baseboard. I was going to follow the same plan – designing a standard looking baseboard to be laser cut, then sticking the hill edging on separately.

However, an idea suddenly occurred to me… Instead of getting these parts cut separately, why not get the sides of the baseboard and the outsides of the hills cut in one piece? This would not only add strength to the whole baseboard, but to the hills as well. Once again, this would all go towards creating the sleek, professional finish I am looking for.

So I adapted my original baseboard design to include the hills along the sides.

You can see the drawing is tightly packed. This is so that the least amount of wood is wasted during laser cutting. Handily the design fits nicely into 1200 x 710mm which is one of the standard size sheets that my laser cutter supplies.

Some of it is a little hard to make out but if you look along the bottom you can see one side of the baseboard, with a hill profile at each end. Another feature of note is in the bottom right-hand corner. These curved pieces are designed to slot in the bottom corners of the baseboard to keep it square. Designing these kind of pieces means that you can use the precision of the laser cutting to ensure everything is square when assembled.

When cut the baseboard should be relatively simple to slot together, rather like a piece of flatpack furniture. This, however, relies on the design being correct so that everything lines up properly! To make sure I got the design right I printed of a scale drawing so I could cut the design out of Plasticard and make a quick little model. Yes, a model of a model railway!

Luckily everything seemed to line up correctly, so the drawing has been sent off to the laser cutters and is being cut as I write this!

Read the post complete with pictures

 
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