Friday, May 25, 2018

IKEA Ivar Benchwork - User Report

I first saw the IKEA Ivar system used for model railroad benchwork at Bernie Kempinski's. (See his blog post HERE). 
Pricing dimensional lumber can be a bit of shock. And picking through the stacks of torqued/twisted and warped lumber at the home improvement center searching for straight lumber can drive you downright nuts. 
The IKEA Ivar turns out to be less expensive than clear pine - and it's precut and ready to assemble into a stable, good looking layout base. 
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I'm going to try the IKEA Ivar system for the basic structure of the layout. Greg Stubbings saw that and offered the following experiences he has had with the same system: 

We have a number a mutual friends and have met a few times over the years.  Last time was at Dick Elwell"s place, I was running trains and you were buying Dick's CV 2-8-0 ! Stic and Bernie were also there.  I model CNR in the Lindsay Ontario are in fall 1957.
Anyway, I follow your blog with interest and noticed that you were considering using IKEA IVAR bookshelves as a basis for your benchwork.  I did this 2 years ago and found they worked very well.  They go together fast, are temperature and humidity  stable, sturdy, readily available, cost effective and you can put them up with only one person.  Best of all, you have a lot of organized shelving that can be covered with drop curtains etc when guests are coming.
I used the 20 " wide shelves 48" high for most areas and 12 " wide shelves in a penninsula. On top of the L girders is 3/4 plywood and 2 X1" foam insulation board. Track ends up at about 51"
The only modification that I made was to use levelling bolts and tee nuts on all 4 corner posts.  I used 1X3 and 1X2 pine for the L girders - good quality plywood that you have already ripped will also work.  I set each shelf unit up with at least 2 shelves (you can add more later as storage need and budget permits).  I levelled each unit.  When I had a section / phase done with a number of units, I installed the L girder on the front edge and back edge with a level and clamps.  Depending on how level your floor is, the position of the L girder does not always match the top of the shelving unit.  I also used smaller L girders on a horizontal plane so that I could attach the plywood  top from below.  It is amazing how sturdy these are once the L girders are in place and the front fascia is attached.
I have attached a couple of photos.  I do not have a blog but a friend of mine, Chris Lyon has done a number of You Tube videos of my layout on his CNLVN channel. 

Take care

Greg Stubbings

Here's some photos of Greg's IVAR benchwork:

Thanks for writing Greg, and for allowing me to share your experience with readers of this blog.

I plan to follow the same basic approach as Bernie and Greg - with one exception. I'm going to use a couple of the Ivar cabinets on the "front" section of the layout. It will not only make that portion of the layout appear more finished, the points where the two sections of the layout are spanned by a removable section needs to be stable. I'm counting on the Ivar cabinets - which are plenty heavy - combined with books and magazines (or bricks!) on the shelves inside the cabinet to keep the end of the layout in place. 
Modelers lacking the tools, skills, or desire to build their benchwork from scratch might want to check out the Ivar system, perhaps combined with components from a company such as Sievers, to get their benchwork completed. I'm sure you could fill a spare room with such "screw together" benchwork in an weekend morning. 


Andy Rezsnyak said...

I found a collection of Lundia shelves in a local museum (our club has an exhibit there) that were going unused and were going to be tossed in a few months.
All there were, was the shelves themselves, no uprights, so they were pretty much useless for a quick set up.
I already had some pieces of Lundia shelving, and looked how the legs were made. They use 2x2 with a dado cut up the center of one side, then holes drilled to accept pins, cross drilled to the dado. The dado also accepts cross members so that you can have one set of legs that are always together.
I went down to the local lumber yard and bought 2x3's and dadoed them, cut them to length, drilled the cross holes at 2" intervals and glued in the cross members, squaring them up. I left the back legs at 6' to hold lighting, and a backdrop. The front legs were at 3' and we ended up putting a shelf panel at this height, and then random shelving under that. A few placed we put shelves in at sitting height so that they could be used as work benches. This shelving held the staging yard to the main layout. It worked pretty well until we had to take it down as a new president of the museum, didnt have the same fondness to the trains the previous one did.
Anywho, they worked well until that point, where they were taken down and brought to my house, where I cut even more uprights so that the front and back legs were at 6' for normal shelving.
I plan on building a sectional layout, and using this shelving system for the legs... The shelves I have are 2'x3' and 2'x4'...
I dont have an Ikea near me, and the shelves from Lundia are pricey, so I have to fabricate everything myself, which ends up being cheaper anyhow.

Here is the Lundia site if you were wondering what I am talking about...

And here is an old photo of what the shelves for the staging yard looked like... (I hope the links works)

here is what I had in the workshop before I installed it on the layout...

CVSNE said...


Great solution - thanks for writing and sharing the images of your work!