Floating Bench Work


For the layout of East 38th Street’s junction railway I want a cleaner, sleeker design when it comes to the benchwork. Traditional shelf brackets work fine but they’ve always struck me as a little clunky, especially when the layout is in a living area or den. It’s a little hard to move them around or fully appreciate them, at least in some people’s opinions. The one thing we have going for the traditional shelf bracket layout for the model rails is that our models are extremely light, certainly much lighter than a shelf full of even a few books.

But we can take advantage of this relatively lightweight property of our model rails and utilize a floating benchwork system. The ace in the hole to make this happen is the appropriate choice of wall fixings to mount the shelving setup with. With my go-to choice being hollow wall anchors. The reason being is that these anchors can be removed and reused at another location quite easily, making it less clunky than the standard design. For this shelving project, I chose a product from The Hillman Group designed for half-inch thick drywall.


This design is ingenious. You start by drilling a 7/16″ hole in the drywall. Next, insert the sleeve and push the cleats into the drywall. Finally, and this is the cool part, drive the threaded screw and the anchor expands tightly against the back of the drywall. Remove the screw and replace it with all-thread and you are good to go. I’ve found that the all-thread can be a tad wobbly in the sleeve, a situation easily remedied simply by running a nut down the all-thread and tightening it against the face of the anchor. Each individual anchor is rated at 80 pounds which is more than enough. After the all-thread has been inserted into each anchor, your supports are in place. Put some adhesive caulk on the top of the rods, place your extruded foam slab on top and you are good to go. The supports are virtually invisible.

If you’ve found traditional shelf brackets to be as unwieldy as I have, why not try out this floating benchwork system for your model rail setups.