The type of benchwork you need will be determined by the layout style you have chosen. If you are using a sheet of plywood, then all you need is a simple stiffening frame beneath the plywood. If you want a different, more advanced method of benchwork, then I recommendusing the L-girder method, explained in various model railroading books.
For the beginnner, I recommend using a simple frame beneath a sheet of plywood. If you are using a single sheet of plywood, then use either 2 by 4s or 2 by 3s. Here's how it works:
1: Cut 2 pieces the length of the plywood's longest side 2: Nail these on the underside of the plywood (The underside is the side with the least suitable railroading surface.) 3: Then, cut 2 pieces the width of the layout, minus double the width of the outer piece of wood (you just put there in step 1). 4: After nailing these in place, there should be a frame under the layout, around the perimeter. Like a box. 6: These should go in the middle, about equal distances in from the edges. 7: After nailing these in place, the layout should be equally suported. 8: Add some legs and bracing, and it's done. Sound confusing? Use an old table. Drawings of these steps. Important considerations If, however you are using two pieces of plywood, make sure that one of the pieces you cut in step 6 is under the joint. Then, nail both the pieces of plywood into the under piece.
If you don't do it like this, and you just want to connect two tables together, then use bolts (about the 5" variety) with 2 washers and 1 nut per each. Drill a hole clear through both pieces, and slip a washer on the bolt, put the bolt through the hole, put on the last washerand then the nut. Tighten but not overtighten. Use 1 bolt at about every 1 to 1 1/2 feet along the joint. The closer they are, the more stable the joint will be.
It is also helpful if at least one leg is located near the joint, to help hold up the pieces. If there must be any joints in the long pieces (like in step 1) of 2x4, make sure the joints fall far away from the plywood joints.
This method will work for any of the layout plans I have included for you to download. The benchwork information was found at The Beginners Model Railroader's HomePage: