I’ve been asked to write what I thought were the major lessons I learned from my second Chainsaw layout by a couple of people.

Initially my answer was, shockingly, nothing. Like the previous chainsaw, simply the process alone was a learning experience. But could I take away anything in particular?

I’ve had some time now, being in-between “chainsaws” to look back at the work I did, and reflect a bit. As a result, I have to revise my answer.

In addition to the process itself, I realized that I took away some things to really watch for, and some of my own hobby preferences. While I doubt any of these are ground breaking, others may want to keep an eye out for them as they go.

Note there are a lot more preferences than things to really watch out for!

Things to watch for

Multi-track spacing (centers). Especially on curves.

Rail Access. Its tempting to put as much as possible (scenery elements), but don’t block easy access to turnouts!

Unnaturally steep terrain surrounding the track. It seems to happen easy, due to our desire to include as much as possible in the relatively small area we have to model in.

Cardboard web construction. Easy and cheap, it can make planting trees more of a challenge. Not impossible, but more of a challenge than foam insulation.

Bevel track where ever it’s cut. One or two passes with a file makes all the difference in the world.

Use a gauge. Always.

Pre-wire frogs to be powered, before installing, just in case.

Be prepared to tear it out. Really. No matter how great you thought it was, you can always do better, and the process might just be as fun as the results.


SOLID benchwork. I found there was too much flex for my liking in the benchwork model I came up with and built.

Hand laying track. I found this to be satisfying, and a whole lot of fun. I have a tendency to rush some projects, the action of hand laying the track really made me work at a better pace, which resulted in better work on my part.

Cutting rail gaps with a razor saw instead of the Dremel. I just can’t find a way to cut as vertically as I’d like with the Dremel, and had much better, cleaner, results with a thin kerfed razor saw.

Working under layout. This was not a preference - this was a hated, hated task. I intend on doing as much as I can on the workbench, instead of lying, sitting, or crouching underneath the benchwork. That includes wiring, and turnout throws.

I hope that helps!

Here's a video of us tearing down the Chainsaw II layout.