How to Build a Dollhouse

By Contributor

How to Build a Dollhouse. Dollhouses have captivated children since the 17th century, when they were invented as playthings for the privileged. Today, kids still love them - and adults, who lavish even more care on the furnishings and appointments, do too.

Decide how you'll use the house. As a showcase for your treasured miniature collection? Or as a playhouse for your child's amusement? Deciding what the house is for will help you determine what to make it out of and how to make it.

Decide on your scale. Most miniatures are on a 1/12 scale - in other words, 1 inch per real-life foot. Because this scale is so popular, a huge selection of furnishings and accessories is available in this size. But if the doll you're building for is 15 inches tall, a 1/12 scale won't get you anywhere.

Decide on the size and shape of the house. The simplest possible house is a one-story, one-room cottage. The choices for the most elaborate are many - multistory concoctions ranging from a Victorian dripping with gingerbread to a Venetian palazzo.

Start simply, however, unless you're an experienced carpenter.

Gather paper and pencil and a ruler, and draw a pattern. For a simple cottage, you'll need a minimum of six pieces: the base, three walls (the fourth is open for play and display) and two roof pieces.

Remember to mark holes for windows and a door, taking the scale into account.

Buy wood - 3/4-inch plywood makes a nice, solid base, but 3/8-inch is fine for the walls and roof.

Use your pattern pieces to mark the wood.

Cut the wood. You can do this by hand, but a circular saw will save time and effort.

Cut out the windows and doors. Whether you're cutting by hand or not, drilling holes in the corners of all the cutouts with an electric drill will make this easier.

Sand all the edges smooth.

Join the walls to the base and to each other with wood glue and nails, then do the same with the roof.

Sand again over the nails.

Paint if desired.

Tip

If you want something more elaborate than a simple cottage and aren't confident of your skills, try a kit. They come with all pieces precut (shingles and trims, siding, posts and rails, stairs) and some preassembled (windows, doors, shutters). If you get tired or frustrated, take a break - remember, this is supposed to be fun.