Sunday, November 30, 2008


Just wanted to show you all of the fun stuff I recently purchased online. It's molding and clapboard, mostly. Don't you just love all the detail in the specialized moldings?

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Here's a stove I recently received in the mail.

As you can see, all the little doors and drawers open.

I'm so excited about this purchase! It's made by Bodo Hennig, a well-known brand high on quality and detail, and usually runs about $80.00. I won it in an eBay auction for about $13.00 plus shipping (the unfortunate seller did not use the correct brand name in the listing title and it was thus missed by all the people who normally search for "Bodo Hennig" auctions). I just love a bargain!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I mentioned in an earlier post that I would discuss Myrtlewood's framing at some point. When I first designed Myrtlewood and started researching how to build it, I learned that almost all dollhouses seem to be built of plywood. That generally works well because it's sturdy and relatively easy to measure and put together. It's also really heavy. My plans for Myrtlewood include a rather large footprint (60" by 31") and a fair number of interior walls. Using plywood for all of that would result in a house weighing hundreds of pounds. Fortunately, rather early on in the design process, I ran across an online article on scale carpentry, including scale framing of miniature houses. The article provided few details, however. I searched and searched for more information on this building method and have since found one book and a few additional online pictures of framed projects. There just is not that much information out there on how to do this. That's one of the major reasons my husband encouraged me to start this blog - to create at least one more site with some information on how to build scale miniatures using a framing method.
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Originally, I intended to use store-bought doors and windows (more about why I eventually chose not to and how I plan to make my own in a later post), so I wanted Myrtlewood's walls to be of a standard thickness, which for dollhouses is 3/8". I thus used 1/4" basswood strips for the lumber and will use 1/16" posterboard for the "drywall." I did not use nails; I was concerned that they would only split the wood, and wood glue works very well and is just as strong. Below you can see how I framed the first floor.

First, I drew out the placement of all the walls on the plywood base. I used pencil because I tend to make a lot of mistakes!

Then, I glued down the baseplates. If you have ever seen a real-life house in the process of being built, you will perhaps recall that this is the way real-life houses are framed. Incidentally, I have found real-life construction techniques very helpful in determining how to build Myrtlewood. I read a few online articles on the subject and also looked back through the many, many photos we took while we were having our real-life house built (my husband told me those would come in handy some day!).

One the base plates were properly situated, I framed up the rest of the house. I have seen photos of people who have done this beautifully, with all of the studs spaced exactly 2" apart. I didn't do this because (a) I didn't want to (although I am a perfectionist, I can also be impatient at times, and this was one of those times), (b) those basswood strips are a bit pricey, so I wanted to use as few as possible, (c) actually very few studs are needed to bear the relatively light weight of the floors above, and (d) all the framing will eventually be covered by "drywall" and trim anyway.

I haven't installed the window and door headers yet, because I still haven't figured out how high the windows and doors will be.

That's it! I'll show you how I plan to install the "drywall" once I actually get to that point. Ditto on the ceiling and second floor.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I decided to take a break from my endless floor construction and build one of the furniture kits I've been stockpiling. In the 70s and early 80s, when miniatures enjoyed substantially more popularity than they do today, X-acto made these great little furniture kits, miniature replicas of real-life American antique furniture, mostly in the Chippendale, Queen Anne and Hepplewhite styles. Each piece is precision-milled with lots of detail, and they go together pretty easily. Sadly, these are not made anymore; I've been buying most of mine on Ebay and have built up a pretty sizable collection.
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This kit was for a cellarette, a small cabinet used to hold wine or other spirits. I searched online and found a few real-life examples of antique cellarettes:

The kit was pretty easy to make. After reading the instructions, I sanded, pre-conditioned and stained each piece.

I chose to stain each piece first, rather than staining after I had the entire cellarette assembled, because I used regular wood glue to put it together. Any place on the wood you get the glue will no longer take a stain. Some people are just very careful with their gluing. I am also very careful with my gluing, but for some reason always use just a little too much or too little, and don't want to take the chance. So I always stain first.

Here's the final product, finished with a few coats of polyurethane:

I'm not completely satisfied with how this turned out. The hinges that came with the kit are a little flimsy and don't want to close all the way, so I'll probably replace them with some of higher quality. I'm thinking about putting a small lock on the front of the box, like you can see in the pictures of the real-life cellarettes above, and I may add some casters to the legs, too, if I can find some small enough.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

More Floors

I absolutely adore libraries. I think you can get to know so much about a person just by looking at the types of books with which he has chosen to surround himself. I especially loved the libraries in the movies My Fair Lady, Disney's Beauty and the Beast and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I'm also really inspired by several real-life libraries:
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Melk Abbey in Austria:

Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC:

I therefore knew Myrtlewood would have a library before I'd even given a thought to any of the other rooms. I had to balance my desire to build a huge library, though, with my lack of desire to make thousands of tiny books (seriously, they are a pain to make). So Myrtlewood's library wil be small and cozy, but I will find a way to work some luxury in.

Which leads me to the floor. Yes, I'm still working on floors; I fear I may be working on them for a year or more, at the rate I'm going. Anyway, I'd been inspired by a parquet floor in a window pane design I'd seen somewhere and thought it would add some interest to my little library. Here's how I created it.

First I figured out the dimensions I wanted for each piece (3/8" wide for each walnut plank and 6/8" square for each cherry piece), then measured out the design, centered it in the room and drew the entire design in pencil on the plywood floor.

Then I cut and glued down the vertical walnut planks.

I cut and sanded each horizontal strip so that it fit perfectly.

Even though I'd measured the walnut planks very carfully, there were still variations in the sizes of the open spaces. So I cut and sanded each cherry square to an exact fit. I do not have pictures of me doing this; I'm still trying to block the entire painful process from my memory. Here's what it looked like when I'd finished.

I finished it as I usually do: by sanding, restaining and giving the entire thing a few coats of polyurethane.

Not bad. I think I'll keep it.