NLMS - Dutch ModelRailroad -

Display case number 2.


After finally buying my home and settling down, I hope I never have to move again. So it was time to build a new display case. The display cases build earlier, see the display case number 1 article, did not make it in the new home. It was time for a makeover.

Before building new ones I surfed over the internet to get ideas. I also looked in stores how they display their goods. I decide to build the new display cases not from scratch but to use bookcases. A total of 5 bookcases were easily found and put together the way they are meant to be. At first they were placed side by side and not connected to each other.

I choose the upstairs hallway as the location. Enough space to walk by and stand still to watch the contents. I choose a white color bookcase since it is light and fits with the rest of the hallway, especially the stairway. On top off the display cases I have mounted an molding in the same color as the stairway, see the pictures later in this article.

I first used these book ases for my videotape collection. I did started early with removing the videotapes to a room downstairs, and made the mistake to leave the bookcases empty to long. My wife used the then empty book cases for laundry. So the trains had to wait a bit longer.

When my wife left me and moved out with the kids, the bookcases were empty ones again. It was time to pay a visit to the local lumberyard store. First I bought bookshelves to create more space in the bookcases for the many trains that will have to fit. At this time I have close to 370 models, to put in this display case.

Since the side panels from the bookcase are thin, about 3/4 inch, I have installed 2x4's in between the individual bookcases. Now they are all together as one unit, and I have about 2 and a half inch material in between, to attach the hinges and other hardware. I use plastic glass as windows which I installed in a frame made from regular wood and did became the first job for my new router table.

The windows open to the left and stay closed with magnets. A small wooden knob is all that is needed to open the windows. The lower part of the display case is not needed for displaying trains, so I made panels to cover the openings. Inside these little space I store the empty boxes from the displayed trains.

At the moment all the trains are placed inside without any track. I might change this over the time.


The beginning. Five bookcases that will never see a book.
First I removed all the bookcases from the wall to re-secure the rear panels. I also relocated the original shelves.
Measure exactly where to hit the nail, otherwise it looks terrible when the nail comes true the back panel, and miss the shelf. Believe me, I know.
In this picture you see the 2x4's, in between the bookcases.
After inspecting all the five bookcases, I attached them together and placed the entire display case in the center of the wall. After all it will be a big job if I have to remove the display case from the wall after the trains are placed inside. Any mistake can now be fixed.

The 2x4's are not visible when the windows are installed. Up to the next job.

I first made one window, to see if my idea was working. It past the test, so up to the lumberyard again to buy material for 4 more windows. Plastic glass is not cheap, so this is the most expensive part of the display case.
I made the frame from regular 1x2 wood, in which I cut a groove for the plastic glass to be fitted in. The groove is centered in the frame, so there is still enough material to attach the hardware.
Mass production in the garage, or better yet the home shop. The wooden frames are ready to be put together. They have just been painted. The wide part of the frame is screwed to the smaller parts, and the 3 smaller parts are permanently attached to each other, so the plastic glass can be removed when needed.

Also installed on the wide frame part are the hinges.

Coming back to the molding on top. This molding was already installed before I added the 2x4's to attach the book cases. So after installing them, the molding was to short. I had to add a piece in the center which is held in place with the clamps.



The five windows are made and installed. This was the biggest part of the job. The result is alright, if I may say, after all I am not a professional furniture maker.
On this photo you can see the additional shelf's. The small knobs are stained, and in the same color as the molding and stairway. It is a lot of white, but I think it goes with the rest of the hallway, and you can see the trains better, ones I put them all inside.
Another 2 weeks has past and the display case is 99% finished. The panels at the bottom are installed and so are some more small moldings. All I have to do now is to touch up the nails with some liquid wood filler and some white paint. And of course, place the trains.
This space is for the empty train boxes. I am thinking to install a chain which will prevent opening the panel to far. I did not paint the panel on the inside for the simple reason that I was out of paint. I will do this later, or just leave it, since nobody sees the difference, and nobody has business opening these panels anyway.

The white molding I had to add later since there was no room to attach the metal plates from the magnets, to keep the panels shut. My mistake during the design process.

And here it is, the complete display case. The photo does not show all the detail but to me the project is successfully finished. Now all I need to do is add the train collection.

Since I model a Dutch layout, my American trains are going to be placed inside this display case. It used to be the other way around, until I decided to run the Dutch trains instead of displaying them.

Here a detail at the hinge. Clearly visible is the wider part of the frame the hinge is screwed into. The color doesn't look white, but if I used the build in flasher, the detail wasn't visible at all.
Here a detail of the knob, not yet stained though.
With the following photo's I show you how I made the frame. A Dutch expression is "having the right tools is half the job". Before I had those power tools I depended on whatever the lumberyard had in stock. Now I can make almost any kind of wood in any kind of shape, myself.

Here you see the frame from the lower panel.

In a rectangular piece of wood I cut a groove on the table saw. The window frames only have this groove, so the plastic glass fits in here. Of course I left room for expansion, so the plastic glass won't warp.
Now I turn the wood around and make another cut, to create a corner. The reason is that the wooden panel gets glued and screwed in here, instead of clamped.
On the router table I mill the corner to make it a smooth and even corner. The safety shield has been removed for the purpose of this picture. Never mill without this safety shield, you don't want your fingers to get near the router bit.
With another router bit I bring detail to the frame. Also here on this picture, no safety shield for picture taking purpose only.
And here the result on a test piece of wood. I did not yet see the mistake I made, the detail "round" cut is on the wrong side. It's at the back instead of the front. I milled two long pieces of wood this way.
An error that's easily fixed. Just cut away the mistake and mill a new detail, this time making sure I am on the right side. The only draw back is that it is not as wide, but that's okay.

At this time the display case is filled with some of the American model trains. However there is not enough space for all of them. That's why another display case had to be added.


Click on the photo for a picture in higher resolution and size.

My daughter gave me another white bookcase, which I traded with here for a brown bookcase, since the same model of the previous fife white bookcases was no longer available in the store.

This display case I made about one third smaller then the other display cases, because of the clearance with the bedroom door, at left.


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And still there is not enough space for all the American model trains. I have one more empty wall left over, which I can use for a display case.

However this display case will be on top of the stairway, so I will have to make a different display case. This one I describe in yet another article, display case 3.

At the left on this picture you can see the beginning of this display case.


Click on the photo for a picture in higher resolution and size.

This page is last updated on 15 July 2012

NLMS - Dutch ModelRailroad -