Below are guidelines to keep you safe and ensure you enjoy your hobby


During the construction of a model railway layout many aspect of DIY are included ranging from carpentry, electrical, and model making using paints and glues so there are dangers when carrying out these tasks which may not be obvious to beginners. Also; as children are often involved it is most important these danger are pointed out to all within the household.


Firstly lets look at where the railway layout is being located. Where ever this is a good safe electrical supply is required.

  • Try to avoid using a collection of extension leads
  • Get a ring main style supply fitted with several socket outlets especially where you are locating the controls and where you may have a work bench
  • Ensure the lighting is suitable as you will be working on some small items and picking colours when doing the scenery
  • If using a shed or out building the supply must be through an armoured cable suitable for outdoor use which must be through an RCD unit.


You'll need a qualified electrician to either do the work or check what you've done. Best check with your local qualified electrician for advise before proceeding. ALL mains plugs, sockets, and junction boxes must be covered to ensure both you and any visitors which may include children can not touch any bare wires.

  • The wiring on your model railway layout is 'low voltage' and self contained so well within the skills of most modellers



When constructing your model railway layout you will need basic carpentry skills to plan, measure, cut, and fit together the base boards. The main materials are lengths of timber for the framework and sheet materials to cover the top to build your layout on. To do all this will involve using hand tools like hand and power saws, power and hand drills, plus other tools that will have sharp edges.

Therefore we must think about the safety when carrying out the work.

  • saw blades and drills have very sharp edges to cut through the timber so could easily cut through 'YOU'. Protect your hands with suitable gloves
  • when cutting timber and sheet material including MDF a dust is produced so protect your lungs etc by using a mask which will filter the air you breath. MDF dust is very dangerous to breath.
  • Protect your eyes is very important so always wear a suitable pair of safety glasses available from most good DIY stores.
  • If possible always cut the wood outside to help blow away any dust - if only possible indoors try to use some form of extraction maybe through an open window added with a fan.                       


Always wear protection equipment when working with wood

            • Safety glasses
            • Dusk mask
            • protective gloves



Paint, Glue, & Soldering Fumes

One of the unseen hazards when working on your model railway is dangerous fumes generated when glueing, painting, and soldering.

All of the above are best done outdoors but not always possible because of where the subject is or bad weather. Therefore try to have good ventilation which at least is an open window and at best an extractor system; an example of which is shown below which I believe is available from Wickes.


 If air brushing you must always wear a face mask (as below) to protect yourself from fumes and overspray. An airbrush spray booth is a good idea where the dangerous fumes are sucted away from you into a filter box; and available from an nationwide Expo Tools agent or direct from their mail order. 



 When finished always put tops back on paint tins/jars, thinners, and seal tubes of glue.  Also ensure every jar of liquid is labeled correctly with what is in that jar.  Finally wash your hands well before touching food.

The art of soldering uses materials that are very dangerous if taken in when breathing and left on your hands. These materials may include lead and acid depending on what you are using. The modern materials are in general safer but many of you are using materials you have had for years. 


          • Read all warning labels on products
          • Good ventilation
          • face mask
          • wash your hands well  



Finally you must be comfortable where you are modelling. If it is not then your not be so keen to go there.

You will need good headroom, lighting, and ventilation plus a few chairs. If you are using a spare room in the home then most of the comforts are already there but if you are using a garage, shed, or attic you will need to add some insulation to keep it warm and eliminate any damp.

Try and have an area which will be your work bench to save using the kitchen or dining room table and getting in trouble with the family.

Also if using an out building you will need good security and try not to tell too many people what you have in your shed.

Finally; what ever you do and where you build it the key is to enjoy it all from build to running your own model railway.