Martin Tärnrot

Layout Edging and Valance

Martin Tärnrot
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Duration:   5  mins

MRA Contributing Editor Martin Tärnrot discusses layout edges and how they can be added early in the process of the layout construction. Martin also talks about placing lighting on the valance to enhance the illumination and appearance of your layout.


Martin shows two examples: first, a fiberboard painted green and used for the edging. It was added early in the construction as part of the layout planning, together with the integration of the turnout controls.

The other is plywood coated with varnish. This type of edging allows you to stow away the command station.

Martin uses 4mm plywood or 4mm fiberboard. The latter is inexpensive and easier to bend into curves. He does that by soaking the fiberboard in hot water. Even a wide section of board can be bent after soaking. Screw the boards in place on standoffs sitting on your framework.

Once the framework is completed, the edging can be constructed and placed within a few hours.


The valance should be affixed to the ceiling as shown in the video. The main purposes of the valance are to hide the illumination and to hide the upper edge of the backdrop. All around the layout inside the valance, Martin has LED tubes in pairs. One points back and illuminates the backdrop, while the other points down and illuminates the landscape.

The reason for this is that in reality, the sky is much brighter than the ground in front of us, and the brightest part of the sky is the horizon. By moving the illumination down to the lower part of the valance instead of in the ceiling, that effect is achieved.

This can and should be done before the layout construction so you don’t have to cover the layout while you drill holes.

For more on lighting considerations, search “lighting” here on the MRA site.

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