board-by-board loading docks

Started by deemery, October 26, 2021, 07:15:52 PM

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I've just completed about 40 running inches of loading docks, and thought I'd show the process that I finally worked out through trial and error.

1.  Cut and stain all the parts.  A Chopper is necessary, a Shay Wood Miter is even better, because it gets more square cuts on the posts than the NWSL/Micro-Mark Chopper. 

2.  The key is this kinda-jig, that consists of a flat piece (here of plywood) and a taller piece to act as a fence/straightedge (here 1/2" x 1/4")   I hold the fence in place with weights behind it pushing it against the flat working surface.   Also, you'll need several small squares or angle blocks, a thick straightedge, and some patience :-)

3.  Construct the post-and-beam, here I'm using 1/16" square stock.    I mark the post spacing (here every 1/2" for HO, I've also done 4' HO.)  Put the beam against the fence, and on one end put a small square/1" angle block.  Using another angle block, align with the post position, put a bit of glue on the edge of the post, and push into the beam aligned with the angle block.    Continue, moving in this case left-to-right.  The very last post on the right uses the angle block aligned with the fence, rather than the beam.

4.  Let that dry a bit, then go back and add the cross-bracing on top of the post and beam assembly.  (Cross-bracing not shown here.)  Remove the post-and-beam assembly and let dry.  Make as many as you need. 

5.   Now for the frustrating part :-)  Align an angle block against one side of the fence.  Place the first deck plank down, push it against the fence and angle block.  Now add a second plank, etc.  After each plank, carefully push the plank tight against the already laid planks using another angle block.  You want them to be tight, but you do not want the planks to buckle up.  After about 2" of these, you need to add something to hold the already aligned planks into place.  I'm using a set of squares that I have.  After the planks are laid down, use the thick straightedge to push them up against the fence. 

6.  Place the straightedge on top of the planks to hold them down.  Now glue the back post-and-beam into place.  Slide the straighedge up against the post-and-beam, so it's flush with the edge of the planks. 

7.  Do the other post-and-beam assembly, using some squares etc against the outside edge of the planks to hold that plumb.   When both sides of the post-and-beam are in place, you can -carefully- add weights to the bottom of the posts (remember things are upside down) to clamp the post-and-beam to the decking.  Let that cure. 

8.  Cut and add the end beams, posts, and cross-bracing. 

9.  Cut a piece of thicker stock (I'm using 1/8" square) to fit inside the end post-and-beams.  Paint that a very dark grey.  Glue that into place.  This adds rigidity and a better gluing surface to hold the planks in place.  And it can't be seen at most viewing angles. 

And that's it...  The work goes quickly, unless your set of planks buckles as you're aligning them.  When that happens (after you stop cursing...), spread out the planks and reassemble/repush them back into position.  By adding weight every 2" or so, you limit the damage that buckling can do to your carefully assembled, but not glued, deck. 

Modeling the Northeast in the 1890s - because the little voices told me to


Nice process.  I love to see all those layout tools in use. Thank you for sharing it with us.
John Siekirk
Superior & Seattle Railroad


Hey Dave:

Looks like you are off to a good start. I shall be following along.



The loading docks in position, but not glued down yet.  The two back tracks are HOn30, bring slates down from the quarry.  The front track is standard gauge, taking the slates to market.

Modeling the Northeast in the 1890s - because the little voices told me to

PRR Modeler

Dave very nice modeling on the building and platforms.
Curt Webb
The Late Great Pennsylvania Railroad
Freelanced PRR Bellevue Subdivision



The advantage of keeping the fence piece separate from the flat working surface is that if the post-and-beam sticks to the working surface, you can easily remove the fence and then slip a single edge razor blade underneath the post-and-beam to get it unstuck.  Oh, and I should mention I used 3x10 and 3x12 pieces for the decking, mixing them up adds a bit more visual variety. 

Modeling the Northeast in the 1890s - because the little voices told me to


Did you ever notice how many towns are named after their water towers ! ?



Nice job on the loading docks.

Tom  ;D
"If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed."
Thomas Jefferson

Tom Langford

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