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.


Living said...

Interesting way to build it!

sandi quance said...

I am very impressed with all your beautiful work...I, too, am planning on building a 4 or 5 storey townhouse. Can you provide your sources for building your foundations this way as this is the way that I had wanted to go but couldn't find much on this method for miniatures. Thank goodness for you! Hope you don't mind if I ask you more questions from time to time.

Thanks, Sandi

Texas Belle said...

Hi Sandi,

I tried to reply to your question directly, but your profile appears to be private, so I hope you're checking back here for my response.

The book I found was very helpful, although I'm not building my house exactly according to the author's instructions. It's Building Miniature Houses and Furniture by Dorie Krusz. Here's a link to it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Building-Miniature-Houses-Furniture-Dorie/dp/0668041846
I actually just happened upon it in my local used book shop.

Other sites I found with pictures, but not a lot of instructions:

Recently, miniatures.com has started selling stripwood and has the following article on framing:

If these links don't work, you should be able to cut and paste them into your browser.

I hope you find this helpful. Of course you're welcome to ask me any questions at any time. Thanks so much for your compliments and for reading my blog!

sandi quance said...

Thank you so much for the info that you sent...will start researching it right away!!
Glad that your computer is feeling better again...I just went through the same thing and what a pain it is!
I look forward to all further pages on your blog.