Train Shelf




Introduction: Train Shelf

When I designed the Bi-Plane shelf (see instructable at: )

One of my designs was for a Train shelf, so after making the plane I decided to also have a go at the train, and I think it turned out quite well.

I also wanted to do something for the Back To the Future contest so this is also my entry for Do Doctor Emmet Brown's Train from Back to the Future 3

If you like it please take the time to also view My Bi-Plane Shelf (if you have not already seen it) and vote in the coming competitions thanks for reading.

I also have a Web site with other ideas and downloadable designs on at

Step 1: The Body of the Train

The Body of the train is made in three parts :

  • Main Body
  • Sand Box
  • Smoke Stack

Main Body

The body was turned from a piece of Boxwood which is a great material to turn makes very little dust and give you a really silky smooth finish. The first task was to trim down the log on the band saw to try to make a balanced piece on the lathe. Once the excess had been removed I mounted the wood on the lathe and roughed it down to a cylinder. Before moving on I removed the wood from the lathe and drilled two 10 mm holes into the cylinder. One of the holes went all the way through this was the one at the front of the body and would hold both the smokestack and a dowel to fix the body to the train base.

With the holes drilled I turned the shape I wanted for the body I turned a tenon at the rear to hold it to the cabin once made, and also used a forstner bit to drill a 25 mm hole at the front of the body.

Sandbox and Smokestack

For these parts I used a scrap of dark hardwood the fist part was the Smokestack to which I also drilled a hole in the top - originally this was just for effect, but I later decided to make some smoke to come out of it. Once complete I cut it off of the wood and moved straight on to the sandbox getting closer to the spinning chuck as I went, luckily there was just enough visible wood to cut a 25 mm disk.

Finishing the Main Body

The disk was glued into the hole at the front of the train body and was then shaped and smoothed, this added interest to the front as it would have been a bit plain otherwise.

Step 2: Cabin and Caboose

The next part needed was the plank that would serve as the shelf and also the base for both the train and the caboose. I used the body of the train as a guide to guess the width of the train base and used the same width for the caboose. I then marked this out on the board and cut both ends on the band saw. Next I marked out the area for the cabin and used some more of the same recycled planks to make the Cab parts.

The plank was too thick so before shaping the parts I re-sawed them to make the parts thinner. I then drilled a mortise into the front of the cab the same size as the tenon of the rear of the train body.

The Caboose was made in a similar way to the cab, the only difference was that I use mortiser to make windows in the front panel. I did not put windows in the side that would be against the wall as this would just be extra dust collection.

Step 3: Wheels and Axles

I started the wheels be turning an old stair spell, but once done it was pointed out that the resultant wheels where too small, so I moved on to a length of Ash that was large enough to make wheels twice the size. One wheel was turned at a time before cutting it off and moving backwards along the same stock wood to the next. Working this way helped to ensure that all of the wheels where the same size. They would be static and so only required a short 10 mm tenon at the rear to attach to the undercarriage. The fronts where a bit plain so I cut a rim into each wheel. If you look at the second to last picture you can see that there is a mark on the chisel. I used this as a guide for how far to move the tip across the wheel before starting to cut this kept all of the grooves in the same relative position.

The undercarriage was again cut from the same board as all other parts and is just a simple stick with a number of lugs on(three for the train and two for the Caboose) as the tenon on the rear of the wheels was 10 mm that is the size of hole drilled into each of the lugs.

Step 4: Make the Steam

At this point I thought I was ready to start putting the parts together,however While looking at it mocked up I put one of the small wheels int the stack and thought it looked good so decided to make so smoke to go with the train.

For this I turn three separate balls, each with a tenon attached which would later be cut down to size allowing the three balls to contact each other.(the two larger balls had 5 mm tenons and the smallest one had a 10 mm hole this would be glued into the smokestack.

I could have drilled 5 mm holes into each (except the largest) ball while on the lathe, but this would have resulted in smoke that just went straight up, I wanted more shape, so I held the balls at an angle and drilled the holes at the bench drill.

This resulted in being able to rotate the clouds for a better effect once I was happy with the shape each was glued in place.

Step 5: Shelf Supports

The shelf supports where simple to make, just two pieces of board, a back plate rounded at the bottom and a quarter circle for the support - you can see the completed parts in the last image

Step 6: Finishing (Gluing and Oiling)

The first few images show all of the parts pre glue up, I had to work in stages as I was using an epoxy resin ad due to the size of the shelf could only glue little bits at a time before the glue went off. I used clamps on a couple of p[arts (cabin, supports shelf sides etc.) to hold them in place while the glue cured.

The finish on this shelf is the same as per the Bi-plane Linseed Oil this was just applied with a brush to get into all the small spaces and the excess was wiped off with a bit of kitchen towel.

That's it job done - the shelf was ready to put up once the oil;s had dried.

Shelving Contest

Participated in the
Shelving Contest

Epilog Contest VII

Participated in the
Epilog Contest VII

Back to the Future Contest

Participated in the
Back to the Future Contest

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    7 years ago

    Your lathe work is over the top


    Reply 7 years ago

    Thanks - Glad you liked it

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    Great shelf. This would be perfect for a kid's room.