Custom Wooden Train Track X-crossing

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About: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through understanding, and strives to inspire others to lear...

Our wood train set from Ikea, the Lillabo, doesn't come with any x-crossing pieces. Other sets with x-crossing pieces are probably compatible, but I choose to make an x-crossing piece myself. I did this both to familiarize myself with the workflow of design in Fusion to making on the Othermill, and also as a first step of a project to make a custom wooden train set that spells out my kids' names.

Step 1: Measure and Design X-crossing

I measured the existing tracks and built a Fusion model, which is available here and is attached to this step.

Step 2: Generate Tool Paths

I used the CAM workspace in Fusion to generate toolpaths to cut the x-crossing on the Othermill.

Othermachine has a fantastic tutorial on using the CAM features of Fusion to generate toolpaths for the Othermill.

I created three toolpaths for use with an 1/8'' flat end mill: two pockets and one contour. I found a piece of plywood that was approximately the same thickness as the train tracks, which saved an extensive facing operation. The .nc files are attached. These are only specifically useful if you have the exact same machine, tool, and material, but might be generally useful if you're curious about toolpaths for the Othermachine.

Step 3: CNC Cut

Here's the Othermill cutting the track and the finished piece. All three operations took about an hour.

Step 4: Connect the Tracks

I cannibalized plastic connectors from other pieces of track, and invited a three-year-old to make a train track. The curved pieces of track set a radius which I wanted the x-crossing to properly match. There's enough slop in the connections that this was easy.

Chugga chugga choo choo!

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    8 Discussions

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    jeroen.dijkmeijer

    2 years ago

    Very handy and I like the idea and the result. I don't like the proprietary fusion part though, so I decided to recreate a comparable train crossing using iPath, viewable and customisable in the every modern browser. The final result is to be downloaded in DXF. http://www.stretchsketch.com/?sketch=iPath/traincrossing.jsvg

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    Yonatan24

    2 years ago

    Cool! I remember playing with those when I was younger!

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    Seeed Studio

    2 years ago

    awesome! my kid has this train brought from ikea, and i need this part as well.

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    RandyPerson

    2 years ago

    Nicely done. Many years ago, before widely available CNC tools, I made a lot of Brio straight track on the table saw. Some decent hardwood (did someone say pallets?) and a sharp blade are all that's needed. And you can easily make it to match two or three standard length pieces. This makes assembly go faster, and creates more stable trackwork.

    After painstakingly coping out a few "male ends", I found that a really large flat head wood screw makes a good connection. Drill to prevent splitting, then you can easily adjust in and out until the tapered sides of the head make a snug fit with one of the factory female ends. Once adjusted, you can file or grind the top and bottom of the head if it sticks out above or below the track. Also, cut the track grooves on the side of a wider board, and you have a platform on which to construct a trackside building. My kids each had a station named after them. They also routinely placed their dinosaurs at one end of the line. Some things are universal!

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    vinz3nt

    2 years ago

    looks great.
    you can also mill the connector parts in the wood instead of cannibalizing them from other tracks. the original wooden train sets also came in 1 piece without extra insert.

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    diy_bloke

    2 years ago

    looks great. My son had a similae track set many years ago and i made several pieces with a hack saw and a router. Never made a 90degrees X- though and yours looks great