My third effort at train layouts in coffee tables was a modest success. I built it for a client, who had also dreamed of model trains in tables. He wanted Z-Scale, too, because it was the smallest operating model train at that time. Because it was to be located in his office, the table had to be of comparable quality to his office furnishings. So it was made of mahogany wood.
This project was a delight, since the client respected my knowledge on the subject. I was also fortunate to have a relationship with a cabinet maker who understood the issues with model trains. The table itself would serve both as a home for model trains and as a work surface. This work surface was a matching lap-top that was removed when the client wanted to display the trains. This top was hardwood plywood with shaped hardwood edges which extended downward. When the top was in place, these edges kept the top in alignment with the table.