Friday, December 18, 2009

The Dollhouse


I've mentioned before that I'm building a dollhouse for my daughter mostly due to the exorbitant costs of buying them. Most that I have seen cost several hundred dollars and are cheap plastic or flimsy thin wood affairs. Neither of those options appealed to me and so I started searching the web for plans. I was instantly rewarded with thousands of hits for dollhouse plans, all of which wanted money or kits that fell into the exorbitant cost for flimsy thin wood category. So I decided that I would just make it up as I went.

I had a couple third sheets of quarter inch plywood from some project that I no longer remember. Perhaps they are one of the gifts left behind by the previous owner. From these, I decided on how big I could make my dollhouse and settled on 1/12th scale. In other words, one inch of the dollhouse would equal one foot of a real house thus making things easy to layout. I settled on a design of a two-story house with a hinged front door and a hinged half of a roof to give access to 'attic' space.

Since I only have a contractor type table saw that allows me to rip things only 12 inches wide or less and for a two story house at 1/12th scale I was looking at 16 inches, I just cut out the pieces with my jigsaw using a wider flush cut blade. I just glued the pieces together and held them in place with clamps and duct tape until the glue had set. I divided the floors into rooms by gluing in interior walls with glue and more clamps cutting doors in the lower floor. I figured the upstairs would just be bedrooms and a bathroom and didn't need doors since the entire front wall hinged out anyway.


I ripped some thin pieces of plywood 1/4" wide to glue to the walls to give me something to glue the second and attic floor too. The only thing in these first two pictures that I had to buy so far were the small brass plated hinges which I picked up for something like $3 for a set of four at a woodworking shop in the urban jungle.

I had been mulling over what to do for shingles but in the end, took the easy way out. While picking up some dollhouse furniture that would take me years to make, I saw that you could buy bags of precut shingles and picked up two of them. I spent an afternoon gluing them on with my daughter's help and after it had dried, applied some leftover stain that I had lying around. I had a glue drip that I didn't notice and couldn't get cleaned up due to the roughness of the shingles, which accounts for the lighter spots that you can see. Stain doesn't penetrate wood glues but perhaps it just adds character.

I'm still debating on what to do on the outside. I think I could just paint it and it would look great but I've been thinking of ripping thin scraps of wood that I have lying around and making some siding. I also haven't thought two much about windows or doors but may someday do something about that. Like I mentioned previously, my aim is to just have it playable by Christmas. I'm hoping my daughter and I can work on it in the year to come.

14 comments:

Eutychus2 said...

Ed...
This is absolutely fabulous, congratulations! Have you ever considered doing a 'railroad roundhouse?'....I'm thinking you could sell the patent to 'Thomas trains' ... and I would buy one before you gave it to them for my one grandson who is a train nut! My grandpa on my mother's side worked as a conductor and caboose man all his life; and I have been entrusted with many of his working items.

Ed said...

Eutychus2 - I love wood working in general so it is possible that someday I might get into it in a bigger way. I forgot to attach the last picture with the shingles before you dropped by with this comment.

sage said...

very beautiful--I should take a pic of the one my daughter got from her grandfather--it's even got 12 volt wiring for lights! Little A will be able to enjoy this for years and share it with her children

Murf said...

Love it. I vote for yellow with white shingles!

Before you started, did you research the furniture and doll availability to make sure that the house would work with what was available?

Murf said...

I meant white shutters!

Ed said...

Sage - I've though about putting in some wiring and light but haven't yet.

Murf - I didn't research any furniture because I initially thought I would make it all. However, because of the amount of work I have left to do the outside the way I envision, I have since changed tune and have bought some furniture for it that LA can open on Christmas Day. I bought it from hobby lobby and it seems just about perfect sized for this 1/12th scale house.

Murf - I'm not sure on the colors. I'm letting the wife decide and since it will probably be acrylic since we have quite a bit of that and have upwards of 50 or 60 different colors, I'm guessing yellow could be in the running.

geri said...

Every girl should have a dollhouse like the one you're building. It'll probably be one of the christmas gift Little Abbey will most cherish. Exciting!

Murf said...

I second Geri's comment. Heck I'm getting excited and it's not even mine. Shame you didn't make the front door a bit wider and put in some etched glass sidelights...and maybe some stained glass in that diamond shaped window....also I don't see any venting for the kitchen fan anywhere yet...

:-)

edifice rex said...

Yeah, and where are you going to run the HVAC system? Did you get a permit for all that? Haha! just kidding! It's SO cool! I love the cedar shingles and I vote that you do the lap siding. That would look awesome.

Beau said...

Beautiful! I think it's wonderful that she will always remember this with you.

R. Sherman said...

I envy you your skill, not to mention your tools. Alas, the mere mention of a table saw conjures images of me lying on the floor going into shock as I stare at two or three of my heretofore attached fingers sitting several yards away.

Outstanding job, BTW. I'm sure Little A will love it.

Cheers.

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Ed said...

Geri - I can see why every girl doesn't get one. There isn't enough time and available mails to make them!

Murf - Since I haven't sided the front yet, there is always time for change. The front door is a regulation 36 inch door at 1/12th scale.

Edifice Rex - I'm building it on the down low since there are a lot of things not per regulation.

Beau - I hope so. I would be put out if she trashed it right away.

R. Sherman - I had a co-worker who almost had that happen but settled for a chunk missing off a couple of his fingertips. I try to be very careful and work with people close by that could possibly drive me to the hospital should an accident occur.

TC said...

She's going to cherish it.

And someday, so will her daughter.