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21 posts from March 2009


The dry fit (which means no glue) is over...all the pieces are lying in a big pile again.  Before I tore it down I marked what walls and ceiling are in which rooms so that I get everything painted the right color.  I imagine I'm going to have several more dry fits to make sure I've got everything done right before I actually glue anything together.  I'm going to have to review and revise my to-do list, I may need to rearrange the order in which I do things based on what the dry fit taught me.

Yesterday's pictures were more impressive looking than they should have been...they made it look like I got more work done than I have.  The dry fit was done before sanding, sealing, sanding, and painting.  Finishing the walls, which I've barely started, is going to be the long, hard part.   (I can't say something like that without hearing Beavis and Butthead in my brain...)

DSCF0001 I learned something about the doors during the dry fit...I'm going to have to put them in the walls prior to installing flooring, and I'm going to have to fit flooring around the thresholds. 

Not only that, but the doorjambs are deeper than the walls are thick, so to make them fit I'm going to have to install my own wall trim underneath the trim that comes with them.  That actually solves a problem for me though, because I wanted to stain the doors and paint the trim white, but the doors come already mounted in the jambs, and there is no way I could make them different colors unless I tore them apart and put them back together.  I figured once I saw them that I'd have to just have white doors, and that worried me because painting them without messing them up would be a chore.  Now I can stain the door and jamb, and paint the trim underneath it white.

Speaking of tearing them apart and putting them back together...I'm wondering if I shouldn't try my hand at it...the doors come mounted in the back of the jamb instead of the center...which means there is a deep case on one side of the wall and on the other side of the wall the door sits flush (did that make sense?).  It looks funny to me.  The doors are hinged via a small metal pin in the top and bottom of the door that extends up through the doorjamb.  I'm contemplating pulling the pins, making a hole in the center of the doorjamb, then putting the pins back in.  I'm afraid of screwing it up, but figure if I try it with one and botch it so bad that I have to glue the door to the frame that I can just have one door that doesn't open...I can put it in the upstairs bedroom.

There won't be any work on the house today...Kate's oral surgery is this morning.  We went to the video store last night to rent a bunch of movies to ease her recovery time (I figured it would occupy her mind enough that it would distract her from her mouth).  We got Quantum of Solace, Twilight, Bolt, Get Smart, The Changeling, Igor, The Duchess, and a couple others I can't remember.

dry fit one and two


I didn't think to take pictures of the first dry fit, these shots are of the second.


I did a dry fit before I started making alterations to the walls and stairs.  What a pain in the ass...I had to sand almost all of the tabs and grooves to get them to fit together right.  Some of them I had to sand just a little, but there was one groove that a second floor tab slides into that I enlongate by almost half an inch..and the tabs on the bathroom wall where it slides into the tower wall had to be cut down half their depth.  I was expecting to have to tinker with it a little, but c'mon!


DSCF0002 I realized when I did the first dry fit that I'm sooooo lucky I didn't proceed with my plan to build fireplaces and put shelves in the bookcase while the fireplace subconstruction was flat on my table...the fireplaces have to slide down through holes in the second and third story floors.  I would have been screwed!  If you hear me talk again about skipping ahead and not following directions reach through your computer screen and smack me!

I widened the arched opening from the living room to the foyer and squared off the top...I cut off the banisters on the first and second floor walls, cut the shape of the riser in the walls where they meet the staircase, and made my own treads.



DSCF0003 Making my own treads took forfreakingever.  I cut and sanded each one to fit in it's own space (they're all numbered in pencil on the bottom) and drilled holes in the bottom four to fit the new banisters in.  Hole drilling was the hard part...getting the drill bit lined up perfect on both sides of each tread took a few (several, really) tries.  The conditioning, staining and gluing went pretty quick, even with dry time...though I lost one probably got mixed in with the junk tread pile and thrown away...I'm going to have to make another one.

I did a second dry fit after I made the alterations.  I discovered that I wish I hadn't glued the bottom five treads on until after I'd spackled and painted where the stringers are going to meet the wall that runs along the right side of the staircase.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing...


DSCF0004 DSCF0005 My biggest screw-up though, was a mistake in cutting the wall along the left side of the staircase...I've got a hole between the foyer and kitchen where there should be the corner of a wall.  I'm thinking through various ways to fix it.

The dry fit taught me a few other little things too, but I'm running out of time this morning, so will blog about those later.

started again

I didn't feel so nervous after I made the to-do list yesterday.  Having my thoughts down on paper (so to speak) is a lot better than having them running around in my head, mixing together and getting out of order. 

I got through the first couple of things last night...cutting that wood with an exacto knife is a pain.  When I cut openings for the windows I can drill holes to start and then get a little coping saw in there...that should be much easier.

I'm going to have to add one more thing to the list...I have to square off the opening and increase the width of the arched doorway between the foyer and the living room so that I can put in one of these.


I meant to say in the last post but forgot...I went to Home Depot on Saturday and got a few counter samples...they're different than what you got, Susan, I think, they're not linoleum looking, they're thin wood with a granite finished veneer.  I'm going to cut them down to use as hearth stones.  I also bought a single square of stick-down linoleum tile to use for the kitchen floor...which is, amazingly, the same thickness as the wood I'm using in the living and dining rooms.  I have to play around with it to see if I want to cut it into 1/2" tiles or just use it in one solid piece.

Monday night I sanded, spackled and sanded the staircase, making sure the stringers were flush with the risers so I can paint it.  I decided to use the staircase that came with the kit on the ground floor, where it was designed to go, because it was built to fit in with the rest of the pieces there.

Yesterday I went to the hobby shop to buy trim, and when I got back with it my shipment of upgrade components had arrived.  (It was hard to take a good picture.)


There's nothing stopping me from moving forward now except fear that I'll mess up...which is why I  didn't do any work on it last night.

I need to be sure I think things through before I start making changes to the kit that can't be undone...I need a plan of attack.

Changes to be order (I think)

  • I don't want to use the doorway from the kitchen to the porch, so I need to glue the die cut door to the wall piece before it's punched out of the sheet.
  • There is an arched doorway between the dining room and the kitchen where I want a door instead...I need to make sure the hole for the door is the right size and glue in a piece to close off the arch.
  • I am using octagonal windows on the third floor, so I need to glue the die cut windows to the wall pieces before they're punched out and cut out octagonal shapes instead.
  • Fix the finish on the crappy foundation.
  • Dry fit the walls, second floor, and stairway (without alteration) to figure out where to lay the flooring and ceiling paper, measure for wainscoting...and to figure out how the stairway fits in (does it support part of the second floor?) so I know what I can cut off and what I can't.
  • Alter the staircase, cutting away the old banister section and making new treads.
  • Put in flooring (including hearth stones) and ceiling paper on the ground floor.
  • Play around with lighting the fireplaces, cutting a hole in the first floor to feed wire through if I can figure something out.
  • Build fireplaces.
  • Figure out how to, and then make, wainscoting.
  • Paper and paint first and second floor walls, then assemble.
  • Dry fit attic floor, figuring out where to cut hole for new staircase from second floor to attic.
  • The new staircase is wider than the other one, so I'll have to cut it down to match the width...then assemble it and put it in place.
  • Figure out if I have to put the clapboard siding on before I install the windows (hopefully), or after.

I don't believe I need to think ahead further than that...besides, I'm pretty sure all that is the hard part...

Dollhouse hobbyists call what I'm doing 'kit bashing'...that seems rather mean, doesn't it?  I think they should call it 'kit improvement', or 'kit altering' instead...oh, how about 'kit personalization'.

what a nice, relaxing weekend

DSCF0002 Building this dollhouse is a nice "puttering around" project...paint a bit, then go putter around while it drys...glue a bit, then go putter around while it drys...I got quite a bit of unintentional housework done this weekend.

I got the fireplace sub-construction done, the stairs started, and the finish work on the foundation started.  Keep in mind when you look at the fireplace sub-construction that I've taken into consideration where the fireplace surrounds, mantels, side walls and trim is going to be when the house is done.

I made my first mistake...well, actually my second really, I made my first on the foundation.  I was looking at the foundation after I had it all glued together and saw one of the little 1/2"ishx1/2"ish pieces didn't fit well, and the grain in the wood was going the wrong way.  Then I said "SHIT!  I put it in sideways!"  It wasn't glued to the sides very well at all, because it was sitting a little crooked, so I thought I could pull it out, sand off some spots of dried glue, then put it back in I tugged and pulled, but that baby wasn't going anywhere...wood glue is some strong stuff!  I snipped off the end of a couple of flat toothpicks, used an emery board to sand a little shim for each side, and glued them in...then I glued on a little toothpick strip to the 'bottom' of the piece so it would sit flush with the ones next to it.  Whallah, mistake fixed!

DSCF0003 So, anyway, the other mistake...  I used hot glue to adhere the three hearth side pieces in the fireplace construction, because there was no way to clamp them in place while wood glue dried.  I was very careful to glue the back side only, where it's not going to be visible.  The hot glue worked pretty good, so I used it to put on the right and left fireplace sides too, since the glued surface would be hidden out of side inside the fireplace.  Only it's not all the way out of sight...there are three hearth side pieces, two for the second floor and one for the first...the second hearth side on the first floor is actually the fireplace side piece, which I slathered hot glue all over.  Sigh....  I relaxed when I realized the corner with the hot glue smear is the corner with its back to the viewer, so it won't be seen unless somebody can see inside the fireplace by looking through the windows on the opposite side of the house...I figure the chance of that happening is slim to none.

Before I finished the fireplace sub-construction I looked up what I'd need to electrify the dollhouse.  The cost to have one light in each room is $'s another $42.95 to light the fireplaces (or $159.84 for realistically lit fireplaces).  I'm not going to electrify...the cost just isn't worth it for me.  I think I will cut a little hole in the floor under the chimney when I put that in...I might be able to run a string of cheap LEDs through the chimney to have lit fireplaces...that will light up four of the rooms...hmm...and I might be able to sneak the strand under the house and into the underside of the stairs to put a light in the stove hood.  I have to ponder the idea...

DSCF0001 DSCF0003 Let's see, where was I?  Finishing work...

Have you ever used spackle?  I never had until's pretty cool's like cake frosting.  I want smooth walls, so am sanding, spackling, sanding, spackling, sanding, painting, sanding, painting...  It's amazing how every little flaw is exaggerated when you're working in miniature.

DSCF0004 DSCF0005 Painting is taking a lot more time and effort than I expected.  I used a sealer on the wood so that I'd have a nice surface to paint on, only it makes the paint go on really thin and streaky, so it takes a bazillion coats to get good coverage.  It's taking a lot more paint than I thought... I'm going to end up buying more, I think.  Wallpapering is super easy, if I can't manage a nice paint job in the rooms I'm painting I may just put up solid colored paper instead. 

"Painting" my hair this weekend was much easier too...a base coat of Party Time Pink with a top coat of Vampire looks really good.

I decided to paint the library instead of papering because I want a lighter shade of green...I decided, of course, before I figured out how easy papering is in comparison to painting.  I really like the shade of green I'm much so that I'm considering painting the exterior this color instead of gray.

I think it's going to be easier to make the fireplace surrounds and mantles now, before I glue the sub-construction into the house, while it's flat on my table.  There is a built in bookcase on the side of the fireplace on the ground floor...according to the instructions the shelves aren't to go in for quite a while yet, but I'm going to put them in now...and I'm going to use thinner, better wood for the shelves than what came in the kit.  I'll have to trim out the bookcase, the edges of the wood walls look crappy.  I have to go to the hobby shop...

I've gone as far with the stairs as I want to until the add-on components I ordered get here.  I bought a second stairwell, so that I'd have one going from the second floor to the attic, but I want to use the nicer stairwell on the ground floor if I can, and the not-so-nice stairwell on the second floor...I have to wait to see if it's possible.  I put the stringers on the risers that came with the kit, but I didn't put the treads on yet because I want to stain them, not paint them, and want to use better wood.  Gluing the stringers on was a pain...I ended up (after it fell apart the first time) using a combination of wood glue for strength and hot glue to hold them in place because there isn't enough surface area for the wood glue to hold it together on its own.  After I get the staircases finished and know which one is going where, I have to cut the top part of the staircase wall off to get rid of the yucky banister section so that I can use my own.

I sanded, spackled, sanded, then painted two coats on the foundation.  It looks like crap.  It needs to be sanded, spackled and sanded some more...only I'm not sure how much work I want to put into making the foundation perfect.  I'm planning on making a square "grass" covered platform on a turntable to sit the house on, so I can put bushes and flowerbeds along the foundation.


I thought I'd have a few more days before I had to decide on wall finishes, but I've got to make up my  mind now.  As part of the fireplace sub-construction I've got to finish the fireplace walls......the construction passes through the living room, dining room, bedroom and library.

The kitchen, living room and upstairs hall walls I'm planning on painting ivory.  I want to wallpaper the dining's in between the living room and kitchen on the ground floor and will add a nice jolt of color.  I'm pretty sure I want to do a wood wainscoting or a chair rail in the foyer, dining room and living will dress those 'company' rooms up more than the other 'common' rooms.  I'm worried about putting a white wood wainscoting under a bold/dark wallpaper, that it would make the walls look top heavy.  (I decided early on to do all the trim in ivory...a lighter ivory than the wall color...I think wood stained trim would put too many dark lines in the house that would pop out visually...I don't want the corners of the rooms to be focal points.)

I want to wallpaper the bedroom and bathroom on the second floor...and I'm thinking a solid color in the library as a "ground" between the wallpapered rooms...but what color?.  I'm not sure if I want to paper the foyer (bottom of the tower) in a bold color, or if I want to paint it the same ivory as the living room and kitchen.

The papers on the left are ones I bought, the ones on the right are from Bessie's stash.  They are stacked so that the paper blocks in sample are approximately 7' tall in dollhouse size.

I'm thinking....left sample, top row, left to right...bedroom, foyer, bathroom.

For the dining room I'm torn between left sample, middle row, far left, and right sample, top right.

For the library I'm thinking right sample, top left.

DSCF0001 DSCF0001

damned warp

DSCF0003 I've got the rest of the foundation pieces glued to the floor...the warp is back in full force.  I got it wet again (a lot wetter than I got it last time), and weighted it down...we'll see what it looks like when I get home.   The next steps in the instructions are to fully prep and assemble the staircase and fireplace sub-constructions.  I'm not going to need the foundation again soon, so it can stay weighted down for a good length of time.  If that warp doesn't come out and I end up with a crooked house I am going to be PISSED.

DSCF0001 DSCF0002 I'm not happy with the quality of the wood the kit is made from, so I went ahead and ordered Houseworks windows, doors, porch parts, staircase parts, and clapboard siding.  I want a nice crisp clean finished edge, and I'm not going to get that with the material that came with the's impossible to sand the edges of the parts without pieces chipping off.

DSCF0004 I dry-fit the chimney assembly...I'm glad I did, because I had to tinker with the fit of the tabs and grooves a bit.  I have to decide how I want to finish it, as that has to be done before I glue it together.  I saw Susan's comment on Bessie's blog about countertop samples...great idea!  I'm going to take a look at them, I think that will work to finish the inside of the hearth...and might work for a hearthstone and tiles for the kitchen floor too, depending on how thick the samples are.

Bessie gave me some paper from her stash yesterday that might be in a small enough scale to use as wallpaper...I really like this blue floralish one that she thinks will be too busy...I'll have to see what it looks like in the room (dining room, I think) before I decide.  I've got enough pictures in this post...I'll post wallpaper samples when I get to that point in the project.

foundation started

DSCF0001 I got most of the foundation done...I have to do under the bay windows yet.  The directions looked confusing before I started, but they make sense as I'm going along.  As long as I lined the pieces up flush with the other pieces as the directions indicated it would have been pretty dumb of me to screw it up. 

With that said...if you blow up the picture, then look at the back wall, in between the weight and my crock, you'll see where one of the foundation pieces went right over top of one of the slots in the floor.  I'm hoping it's supposed to be that way and it will make sense later.  As far as I can tell from the diagram and instructions I did it right...but I'm afraid I screwed up.

I'm using masking tape to hold the pieces in place while they dry, like the instructions say...seems like it shouldn't work, but it does.  I did have a couple of finicky pieces that I left my favorite tool sitting against to keep them square while they dried.

DSCF0003 Have I ever shown you my favorite tool?  I got it out of my father-in-law's shop after he died a few years ago.  Matt says he'd had it as long as he can remember...the initials HMC are etched in it, so it had to have belonged to at least one other person before Matt's Dad got it...I've got no idea how old it is.  I use it all the time, mostly as a square, sometimes as a level, sometimes to hold something's got some weight to it, so it stays in place.  It's the perfect size for working with small stuff.

If you ever see one of these when you're antiquing, pick it up.


Oh yeah...meant to say...the warp in the floor came back somewhat as I was working, that's why the weights are on it.  I'm desperately hoping once the foundation pieces dry in place that the problem will disappear.