Decommissioning the modeling desk

As I get closer to the big renovation, I’m cleaning out more and more of the basement. Here is the modeling desk just prior to decommissioning. The new desk will be built into the legs of the layout, and so this one is going to get turfed (unless someone wants it – let me know quickly if you might be interested!). Some things have worked well with this desk, and some things could bear improvement.

It is actually a little bit too deep, for starters. The full 30 inches plus a couple due to the baseboard heater put the photos on the wall so far away I can’t make good use of them. I don’t use all that depth anyway; in fact most of the time I’m working in an area smaller than the green cutting mat. The new desk will be two fee deep to line up with the edge of the layout.

Prior to being put away, the resistance soldering unit and regular soldering iron were along the back together with a (underused) Flex-shaft Dremel tool and the DC controller for the test track. That was fine, except for the Dremel tool, which I think needs to be off to the right so the shaft doesn’t drape across the table, but rather comes up under my dominant hand. It also needs to be closer because the shaft isn’t as long as you think.

The test track was completely worthless running in front of the soldering irons. It needs to be on a shelf above them all, at seated eye level so you can see what’s going on, and preferably able to move forward so you can bring the test track right up to your eyes. The test track should also be as long as possible so you can run a little ways before having to reverse. This one was barely a dozen revolutions of the drivers before you had to stop and go back.

I liked the tool drawers, but will not put them on top of the desk again. Notice how I had to build a little platform so those drawers wouldn’t sweep everything off the desk when I opened them. Drawers, it turns out, need to be below eye level. So the bottom couple of drawers are usable, but the rest require me to either stand up to look inside or I have to fumble around and feel for the tool I need. No wonder I keep the sharp things in one of the desk drawers!

Left hand drawer

Speaking of desk drawers, my previous desk didn’t have them, and I never thought I needed them until now. I kept my most-used tools in the left hand drawer. All my knives were in the closest compartment, tape and little scraps of sandpaper beside them, the film cans are full of useful stuff (trust me), drills and spare blades a bit further back.

Right hand drawer

The right hand drawer had my calipers, clamps and Dremel bits, plus a bunch of stuff for soldering. To tell the truth, there were some tools in the red drawers that should have been in one of these two desk drawers. All my files, for example, were never easy to grab. The scrawkers should be in the desk, and screwdrivers shouldn’t have required standing to find the right one.

Middle drawer

In the middle drawer, I kept my “photo studio”, which was a piece of foam core and card assembled so that the card could fold into the drawer when not in use as a photo backdrop. To take photos, I would pull open the drawer, unfold the card and position the subject. This worked great, but wasn’t as good as a dedicated photo stage. Frankly the biggest pain was putting the camera onto the tripod since I stoppped using the old Olympus that was dedicated to model photography. Maybe I can find an old DSLR to dedicate to this task going forward. For lighting, I just used my task lighting, which is Daylight flourescents.

Raw materials

Beneath the desk there were numerous boxes, but two are significant because I used them all the time. They are liquor boxes (well, one Scotch, the other wine) and contain cards to which I staple the long thin plastic envelopes that strip material comes in. These are arranged dimensionally so I can very quickly locate the size of strip or rod I want. The Famous Grouse box is full of Evergreen Styrene, while the Cylces Gladiator contains brass and wood. I like these boxes themselves, especially the wine one (a label that is banned in Alabama), and so I’ve not decided yet if they will get replaced with something nicer in the new incarnation, or if they’ll stick around. Definitely, this is the best compact storage method I’ve come across for all those packages of strip styrene, brass and wood.

Well, it’s sad that I won’t be able to do any modeling for a few months now, but I’m excited about the prospect of a new train desk and even more excited about the layout above it. More to come as the renovation gets under way.

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