A while ago I put up a project where I made some straight wooden track, compatible with Brio and Learning Curve (Thomas) track. Since then, I have kept in the back of my mind how I might easily and cheaply make curved track, switches, and more easily form the male and female ends (without buying expensive, specialized router bits.)
I believe I have found the answer. A pin router jig. I first learned about these from a video by Jim Steinbrecher, and later by a much clearer and concise video by Garage Woodworks. So I thought about it for a while, but this week, my wife asked me to search eBay for a few Thomas the Tank items for my nephew’s coming birthday. Among them was a pair of switch tracks. Seeing the price of such things, and seeing that the modern style of Thomas track hass little plastic tabs instead of the formed wooden end (or plastic ball on a stick) I decided it was time to try making these more expensive pieces myself.
I rewatched the Garage Woodworks video and took a few notes, basically estimating the length and size of the required wood pieces and noting the bolt sizes. There’s a LOT of room for improvisation in this. It definitely is not rocket science.
The pin router jig completed, I used carpet tape to attach a store bought switch track to an appropriate piece of wood and went to work. The result was very satisfactory. The male and female ends fit nicely with the commercially made track. I definitely need to sneak up on it and not rush, but it looks good. I was even able to put the track contours in the face of the track, by adjusting the pin and router bit appropriately.
So for curved track, the only hitch is that the kerfs that make the track look like it has ties are made perpendicular to the curve. When I was long considering how to do this, I imagined some kind of swing arm that would hold the curved track piece to keep the arc. But being a big fan of the KISS method, I feel I can simply make a half circle of the correct diameter (14.25v in.) and simply rest the track on that. Eventually there will be a video showing all of this.
-- Ni faru ion el ligno!