The last engineering hurdle for this project is to figure out how to tastefully connect the rails together. I stopped by Lowes and looked through all of their stock to find something that might look OK. My first thought was to cut 1/4 inch Oak stock into 1/2×3 strips that would then be screwed and glued to the ends of a rail to create a large tongue and groove on the side of the rail. So, I got the stock, cut it to length, and then put it up with some test track. It drew to much attention to the joint between the sections and looked to bulky. It is still an option, but I want to look at other options.
After pursuing that idea, I thought about making up small metal plates that are about the thickness of dog tags like what you get engraved for your pet. If I could get a tag that is 1/2×3 inches and 0.020 or 0.040 in thickness, I could join the rails very tastefully with blanks and 4 screws. So, I searched online and found two places that might work out:
Both places have brass tags that are the right shape and length, but they are in bright brass. The ideal tag would be made of nickel-silver and match the color of the track. But, I cannot find anywhere online that makes such a plate. But, I did find a place that makes stainless steel with a brushed finish. While a little to bright, it would be better than brass and the stainless steel would be much stronger than brass.
So, after work today, but before close of business for Oregon, I called Cascade Laser and talked to them about ordering 1/2×3 stainless steel tags with rounded corners. They said that it would be a special order to get the tag in stainless steel and that they would get me a quote by Friday. The minimum order is 100 and as long as the cost is less than $1 per tag, I will buy them. The thickness available is 0.029, 0.031, and 0.040. They said that 0.029 was standard for pet tags.