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Whether you're an experienced builder or new to the hobby, I've gathered material from all over the web to produce the most complete, tab and slot, dollhouse assembly blog you can find.
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Monday, March 30

The Willowcrest Dollhouse Revisited Week 12

The second floor staircase is ready to be put in but it has to be finished on the underside. This underside is visible from the bathroom closet. I decided to stain it so it looks like a real staircase would look. You can always cover the underside of the staircase using a piece of balsa wood slab or foamcore. Then you can wallpaper it to match your bathroom closet. I personally like to see the detail of the staircases underside. It allows the viewer of the dollhouse to see just how many parts have to be glued together to create this tiny staircase.

I went ahead and prepared the tin ceiling for the kitchen. I wanted the look of silver tin but it is not easy to get these plastic styrene sheets to take on paint, especially silver. You have to sand them a bit first, to roughen them up. This helps the paint adhere better. Even so, I had to give it three coats of paint, two gray and a top coat of the silver. It was the only way to keep the white from showing through. It doesn't show up on the camera photo but it actually has a slight, antique, blotchy look to it.

While that dried, I continued preparing the bedroom/hallway partition. It is already wallpapered but I had to remove a few tabs so it slides into place without destroying the finishes on it or around it.

I installed the second floor staircase first. It goes in without a problem while the bedroom/hallway partition is off. I then installed the bedroom/hallway partition. Keep in mind that these staircases are never square with the rest of the dollhouse, no matter how well you kept them straight during assembly. Even if you assembled your staircase with laser precision, it would be all for nothing, since the surrounding walls aren't completely square. Remember that this staircase will be covered with a back wall and only a small area of it will be visible from the bathroom closet, at an angle. This hides the fact that it looks slightly crooked when viewed from the back. When you look at the staircase from the front or through the top opening, it looks just fine.

I tried to come up with an ingenious way of viewing the winding, first floor staircase to no avail. There is nothing I can modify to make it more visible.

I went ahead and installed the ceiling trim in the foyer and stairwell. Not an easy thing to do. I also installed the second floor staircase railing. I still need to do some touch ups in this area but for the most part, it's complete. A good thing since it's becoming more and more inaccessible with time.

After the staircase and bedroom/hallway partition is installed, you can continue the flooring on the second floor. You can also apply the ceiling paper now. It will be difficult to get into all of the nooks and crannies up here, especially in the bathroom closet but again, the Greenleaf Vinyl Floor makes the job a lot easier. The flooring also hides any gaps around your staircase and staircase railing. I dry fit the bedrooms double doors so I can apply flooring around them since they will not be hinged and will not be moveable. For the bathroom doorway, the flooring must be continuous since this door will move.

The bathroom door is going to be hinged but I am hinging it on the trim that faces the upstairs hallway so that it opens outwards. This bathroom is too tiny for a door to open into it. So I am installing the door trim that faces into the bathroom first. That way I will be able to sand, spackle and paint the inside edge. Since the door opens, this edge will be visible and can not be finished with the door in the way. Binder clamps will give you a nice tight fit, not allowing any gaps.

You must hinge and install your bathroom door before you install the bedroom's double doors. You will need this access point in order to reach into this hallway. All of your windows should also be open, with exterior trim installed only. The interior trim, with the acetate panes, should be left for last so that you have access points through the windows, throughout the dollhouse.






Friday, March 27

Limited Edition 2015 Creatin' Contest Kit Week 2

I am going to try to finish the dollhouse structure before I decide on the finishes, in case anyone out there joined the contest and needs the tutorial. Posts for this kit will publish Friday since most people will work on their dollhouse on the weekends.

If you have never assembled a structure before, this dollhouse would be a good start. If you are intimidated by it, don't be. It's inexpensive and this is a pretty easy project that will get you familiar with some of the tools needed in dollhouse assembly. It will especially help you in getting to know how to apply finishes. Later, you can move on to more difficult assemblies.

Remember, that the assembly of a cabinet grade dollhouse is much different than a tab and slot but it's still a good starting point to build confidence. After making my very first two tab and slot dollhouse disasters, I tried a cabinet grade one and I am thankful for the experience. After that one, I continued tab and slot assemblies with a boost in moral.

Foundation
This week I began assembling the foundation. The parts are MDF so they do not need sanding. None of the parts are labeled but they are pretty much self explanatory at this point. There is a good illustration of how the foundation is suppose to go together but that will be the only illustration you will have for this assembly. Good thing you all have my blog with pictures, because so far, it seems pretty simple but it will become a little more complicated as we move along.

I am using wood glue to assemble the shell of this structure. So far, the instructions are not calling for nails and I am little skeptical about how these bulky, heavy, interlocking pieces will hold up with only glue. They don't seem to have much support at this time but I will just continue to follow the instructions on this.

Like with other cabinet grade dollhouses, the parts are square so you don't need to use any special tools to make this foundation line up. As long as you join all of the parts, flush with each other, the structure will end up square.

The small plastic clamps work very well with this structure and I am alternating the use of the hand held weights at the corners. Four more of these weights would have been perfect for this part of the project.




Main Floor
Once your foundation is dry enough to be moved, you can glue on the dollhouse floor. This is where is can become confusing because there are no illustrations to guide you. The floor does not cover the entire foundation. The porch floor goes on separately, later on. So, this is basically the main floor of the dollhouse.


It goes flush to the back of the foundation and evenly spaced on the sides. The foundation has to stick out from under the floor, 1/4", on both sides. These two "sills" of the foundation will hold the walls. Clamp your floor down with weights until dry. This structure is sturdy and thick so you can create weights out of anything you like.



When this structure is dry enough to turn over, do so and run a line of wood glue along all of the joints between the foundation and floor. You don't have to worry about being extra neat. This is the underside of the structure and will not be visible. Keep everything clamped until dry.


As you can see, now that the foundation is done, this is a pretty large dollhouse. Much larger than I thought. It seems to continue getting larger with every new step.

At this point, you can start having several ideas of what this could be. There is a lot of space in here to make a loft for a bedroom, add a kitchenette and living room to the main floor and you would still have an area for a huge stone fireplace. I am not far along in the build to know for sure, but I think there are going to be exposed beams in the ceiling.

All of this makes me think of one thing, Alaskan cabin house. Even the sloping roof lends well to the feel of Alaska. If you were looking for an excuse to use a mini outhouse in one of your displays, this would be it and there's plenty of them in Alaska, so go figure. You can almost imagine the outside mountains visible through the large sliding glass door and maybe a lake.

This was certainly not my first idea for this dollhouse. I didn't have a solid idea but I was leaning towards a terrace or an outdoor room of some sort. Something I could tile, stucco and make look like it was sitting in California but that's not what this dollhouse wants to be. It wants to be in Alaska so in Alaska it shall be.
 

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