Chipboard Baseboard

Discussion of model railway baseboard design and construction
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Chipboard Baseboard

Postby strangeworld57 » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:28 pm

Hi all. This is the first time ive posted anything here.

I would like as many peoples opinions as possible.
I am building a baseboard 9ft by 5ft which i will split into 3 sections of 3ft by 5 ft. I will be using chipboard and timber for the frame and i will be buying some flatpack chester of drawers to use as the legs(my way of creating a bit of storage)
my reason is for this is cost.
any one who would like to comment on this please give me your opinions

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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby craw607 » Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:28 pm

Firstly welcome to the forum.
I've read that chipboard can swell and not the best for using as a baseboard.
If you use the search options it may come up with other options.

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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby Ex-Pat » Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:45 pm

Welcome to the Forum.

I’d always thought that Chipboard was considered to be a rather “taboo” material which is too heavy and doesn’t accept track pins too well.

If you enter “chipboard” into Search you will see results that confirm its weight and also mention its ability to absorb moisture and break up over time.

Reference to:

restricts comment to: “Chipboard - ideal for train set boards as low cost. Not considered by the serious enthusiast.”

I note you mention “reasons of cost” – I would however urge you to seriously consider plywood (as mentioned in many of the Search returns) – the initial increased outlay could easily pay for itself in terms of not having to pay the cost of having to rip it up in a couple of years’ time.

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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby b308 » Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:04 pm

One thing you can do if you do use chipboard is to seal it with a coat of suitable paint... But I'm with the others, wouldn't touch it with a barge pole!

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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby Flashbang » Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:43 pm

Hi strangeworld57.
Welcome to the forum.
IMO the three sheet materials to be avoided are, and in order of avoidance...

Sundeala - Sags faster that you can say "New Railway Modellers"! Therefore it needs much closer together underneath bracing timbers. Soaks moisture like a sponge and should only ever be used for what it was originally designed for - Pin notice boards!!

MDF - Medium Density Fibreboard. Soaks up moisture like a sponge unless well sealed. Dust from cutting is harmful too. So hard you need to drill a hole in it before a Peco track pin can be inserted.

Chipboard. Very heavy and almost as hard to drive those Peco track pins into as MDF. Crumbles after several years too (Or at least the older types of Chipboard did).

Always use Marine or Birch quality Plywood. If all else fails and these two are not readily available then use good quality WBP plywood.
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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby Stanier » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:40 am

Yes. Plywood (4mm is thick enough) in an egg-box construction is the preferred method these days. Using this system your boards will remain rigid and flat and more to the point light enough to be handled easily. This means you can turn over individual boards for wiring. Track pins push into it easily. The down side is resonance but you can beat this by laying your track on plastic foam.

I can pick up a 6ft by 2ft piece of my layout with one hand. You need to reinforce the joining parts with a few extra layers of ply where the bolts are going.
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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby Essex2Visuvesi » Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:32 pm

The resoanance can be reduced by sticking Dynamat to the underside of the baseboard
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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby nickbrad » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:09 am

I'm surprise no one has picked up on the baseboard sizes, 5ft x 3ft. I'm guessing the plan is for a semi permanent layout, but even so, those boards will be very heavy/unwieldy if you do need to move them.

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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby Stanier » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:48 am

I thought the OP would have taken note of the advice that chipboard is a no-no for baseboards these days. It is basically unstable and will change its shape without much warning no matter how much stiffening you do.
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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby Bufferstop » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:49 am

You can add me to the plywood camp. It's far lighter than any of the other sheet materials mentioned. The thickness required depends on the distance to be spanned between stiffeners. If you use 4mm you will be constructing something akin to an aircraft wing, lots of bracing pieces and very light. I've used 6mm for top sides and stiffeners joints braced with 15mm square stripwood, in 5foot by 1.5foot sections. If you are building something much larger 9mm ply might be needed.
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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby RPS1951 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:32 am

My loft layout has chipboard baseboards, and having been in place over a year now shows no sign of sagging etc, and that's in a house over 100 years old!!!

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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby luckymucklebackit » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:05 pm

I can echo the last poster to say that I have been building baseboards out of Chipboard for the past 30 years had have never encountered any of the issues described. All however have been permanent layouts.

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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby kjiwizard » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:10 pm

I am getting worried now reading the anti chipboard posts. I was ignorant of what to use so I went with chipboard and then glued with PVA what the DIY shop called pin board but which I call Insulation board on top of it, holding it down with a redundant set of Encyclopedia Britannica. I then painted the board brown to kill the starkness. I am now laying track on top of that with a cork base.

I do hope I don't have to rip it all up! :(

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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby beeman » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:34 pm

Sounds like I might be heavier, baseboards that is, I purchased a job lot cheap of 22mm T&G floorboard sheets, Think proper name might be particle board, when cutting see the odd spark, reckon sweepings up included. I used this for the floor and internal wall lining, of my concrete block built 'trainshed', insulating with bubble wrap between the internal lining and block structure.This was also used for the baseboards, and so far, after approaching 3 years +, no problems, have not experienced any shift, but must say it is affixed to the 4m x 3m building lining. The baseboard fixed with only the door access drop down 'bridge' bit free, the whole area only having 4 vertical support legs on the inner periphery, so easy under access. Would think if the loft flooring T&G chipboard used no problems will occur, as long as sufficient support underneath. Beeman
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Re: Chipboard Baseboard

Postby whynot » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:57 pm

"...I went with chipboard and then glued with PVA what the DIY shop called pin board but which I call Insulation board on top of it,...."

It's getting heavier by the minute! If it isn't truly permanent and well braced and sat on/incorporated into a sturdy frame then I'd cut my losses and start again now rather than once you've laid and wired track etc.
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