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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.
Tip: 1. Read through all of the instructions that came with your kit first. 2. Find your dollhouse in this blog by using the drop down menu below. 3. Read through the building process in its entirety before beginning your project. Happy building!

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This upcoming project is a little different from my usual ones. This is a rehab. This custom dollhouse belongs to a neighbor and she was ...

Wednesday, January 17

Recommended Tools List

Here is my list of recommended must-have tools for any dollhouse assembly. Experiment with your builds and find the tools that work best for you. Many times it can take several dollhouse builds before your able to find just the right items that will make your project move along easier and quicker.

Binder Clips

These clips can be found in various sizes at your local office supply store. They are great for clamping together laminated parts like doors and windows.

Brown Parcel Paper

You can use this paper to cover your work area and also for making templates of your roof panels for shingling. It comes in inexpensive large rolls so you will probably have enough of it for a lifetime of dollhouse building. These rolls are found in the paint section of the hardware store but they can also be found in the mailing department of your office supply store.

Disposable Microwave Containers

Make sure you get them with a lid and in multiple sizes so you can use them to store your pre-mixed stain or paint. They also store mixed dollhouse stucco and other materials that you have left over for future use. Disposable plastic cups are great for washing out your paint brushes as well.

Drop Cloths

You can buy the drop cloths that are found in the paint department of harware stores but you can also use cheap shower curtain liners, found at dollar stores, to cover your work area and make it waterproof.

Dust Mask

You will need a dust mask during sanding. Do not underestimate the amount of dust that sanding dollhouse parts will make. You might even want to purchase goggles as well, in order to protect your eyes from the dust.

Easy Cutter

This is a must have tool for cutting miniature lumber. It is ideal for trim and even has a measurement plate for miter cuts. It can be ordered online but some craft stores may also carry it.

Fast Grab Tacky Glue

This glue can be used to apply siding that is installed under components. It is thick and grabs quickly. It also has a shorter drying time than regular tacky glue.

Foam And Craft Paint Brushes

It's best to buy an assortment of paint brushes because each one has it's specialty. Foam brushes are used for stains or to create textures. Soft bristle brushes are best for painting and coarser, larger brushes can be used to apply thick wallpaper paste. Make sure that there are also plenty of fine tip brushes in your assortment as you will be needing them for painting details and doing touch ups.

Glue Stick

Use a glue stick for easy wallpaper repairs or to apply wallpaper borders. Glue sticks also work great to attach wallpaper to smaller scale dollhouses.

Hand Held Mirror

These small mirrors will allow you to look into tight corners or areas that are only visible through dollhouse windows.

Hand Held Weights

Two pounds is suffice for a dollhouse and five pounds would be the maximum. These inexpensive weights are perfect for any type of surface that needs to be held down with something heavy while glue dries. They are covered in a soft rubber material so they will not damage finishes on your dollhouse. Make sure to buy two or more of them so you clamp your surfaces evenly.

Hot Melt Glue Gun

Hot melt glue is used for applying shingles and sometimes siding to your dollhouse. It is non-water based so it will not warp thin wood veneers. It also dries instantly preventing shingles and siding from shifting out of place.

Though hot melt glue is always used to apply shingles, whether you are gluing them straight to your dollhouse roof or to a paper template, it is not necessarily always used to apply siding. If you apply your siding around your components, then you can use hot melt glue but if you apply your siding under your components, you should use a tacky glue instead, for a stronger and more durable hold.

Hot Melt Glue Gun Sticks

They do not only work for your hot melt glue gun but they also make great clamps for flooring and ceiling trim. Buy them in various sizes so you always have one that works for the areas you wish to clamp.

Lightweight Spackling Compound

Spackle is the best product for hiding gaps on a dollhouse. It is sandable, paintable and goes on smooth.


A rubber mallet is a must for tapping in stubborn tabs into slots.

Masking Tape

Masking tape is perfect for clamping your dollhouse together while glue dries. Most blue Painters Tape can be used to clamp walls that are wallpapered. Make sure you read your tapes instructions to find out whether it can be used on wallpaper or not.

Nail Files

Fingernail files are the perfect size for sanding tight inaccessible areas like the insides of gingerbread trim. Emory Boards are the perfect width to use as a lap width guide for siding on Victorian dollhouses.

Parchment Paper

Parchment or wax paper allows for easy clean up. Use under your wallpaper as you apply paste to it in order to prevent sticky messes. Position freshly painted dollhouse parts on it to allow drying time, and they will not stick to it.


You will need it for drawing siding and shingling guide lines. You also want to number and label your parts in pencil so you can easily erase the marks later. The eraser ends of pencils are ideal for helping to punch out parts from their sheets and saving your fingertips in the process.

Plastic Clamps

These clamps work well for clamping parts that fit at an angle to eachother. They also help hold angles square as glue dries.


These are perfect for filling in tiny gaps with spackle.


Try to find a ruler that is metal and exactly one inch in width. That way you will have the perfect guide for drawing shingle lap width lines.

Sanding Block

This will save your fingers and make sanding go much easier and quicker.


Medium to fine grit sandpaper must be used to smooth down all edges of your dollhouse parts. It is also used to sand down protruding tabs or areas were wood filler was used. You can always use your leftover sandpaper to cover bay or flat roofs.


You will need scissors to cut wallpaper, shingles and siding to size. It's actually a good idea to buy a large size and a small, pointy tip pair.

Stainable Wood Filler

You will need wood filler to hide gaps on stained finishes. The best wood filler is Minwax Stainable Wood Filler. It takes stain pretty well and is perfect on natural birch veneer shingles.

Styrofoam Plates And Bowls

Disposable plates and bowls are perfect as paint palettes. You can also use them to to mix paints together. When you're done, you just toss them away and avoid having to wash paint into your sink after every use.

Tacky Glue

Tacky glue is the main glue that you will use on your dollhouse. Tacky glue dries clear and can be used on painted or stained parts. It's thick and adheres to wood very well.

Tacky Glue Pen

Tacky glue in a pen is perfect for more control and precision when applying glue to small areas, like window glass or hinge pins.


Long tweezers will help you access areas deep in your dollhouse and short, smaller tweezers will help you handle small parts like brads and doorknobs.

Utility Knife

A sharp utility knife is ideal for trimming down parts that aren't fitting just right.

Wallpaper Paste

Wallpaper mucilage is the first choice for applying wallpaper but you can substitute with Yes Paste or wallpaper paste from the hardware store.

Wood Glue

You will want to go over all of your dollhouse wall joints with wood glue. Wood glue is the right consistency to seep into all of the areas in the joints that tacky glue might have missed. Use wood glue on your unfinished dollhouse shell only. It does not dry clear so you can not use it on painted or stained surfaces, as it will be visible.

X-acto Knife

This knife is needed for cutting out wallpaper from windows and doors. If you place a light behind your dollhouse, you will be able to easily see through your wallpaper and identify where the covered openings are.

Optional Tools

If you want to buy power tools, the only ones that would be recommended for a tab and slot dollhouse, is a palm sander and a rotary tool.

Palm sanders are great for sanding down doors more quickly than doing it by hand. They also work well for quickly smoothing down protruding tabs in floors.

A rotary tool can make detail work a lot easier and kit bashing go a lot quicker.


Anonymous said...

OMG I love your site. It's fast becoming the place I go to when I have ANY questions at all! I'm enjoying following your house builds too. Thanks for a great site!


Anonymous said...

I'm making my very first dollhouse. I live next door to a dollhouse museum and I have been making regular trips there to bombard the owner with my questions. (thanks goodness she's so wonderful) Since her hours are so scattered, your website has saved me a lot of trips to the store!! Thank you SO SO much for being here!! I'm starting with the Orchid, but I plan to move on to bigger and better houses until I have the knowledge needed to build the 1901 Victorian mansion that we live in. I've loved those house since I was a little girl.

Anonymous said...

I am starting my first dollhouse for my neice. I am getting all the tools that you recommended but I can't find the plastic clamps you use. Nor can I find anyting similar. Can you tell me where I can purchase some and let me know how many I might need?

Gina said...

The blue plastic clamps can be purchased at You can also find them at some hobby shops.

I recommend 4 large ones and 4 small ones. The small onces are usually used on miniature furniture but I find them to work very well for dollhouses and you will actually end up using them more than the larges ones.

Anonymous said...

I bought wax paper and it works good for drying all the parts I painted. And I'm using a small paint roller on the walls of the Garfield I'm building. It don't leave brush marks on the walls .I was usimg a foam brushes but they were leaving bits of foam on the walls. And using a small paint roller saves a lot of time with painting .

Anonymous said...

I am not sure how u use the plastic clamps for angle squares. Can you please elaborate.

Gina said...

When you clamp with these style clamps, it forces the clamped pieces to be square, when they butt against each other perpendicularly.

Miche EE said...

I'm looking for ideas - I have rehabbed a dollhouse my grandfather made for my children. We also started two additions that will face the original dollhouse, forming a complete square when it is done with the openings to all parts in the center if that makes any sense. The addition is in two parts that are meant to sit side by side and then swing "open" to be wings to the left and right of the original dollhouse. OK to the challenge. The exterior wall of the house has to line up with the edge of the floor so that they are flush, so I can't put trim on the floor to create a slot for the wall as my grandfather did. Ideas on how to connect the two in a non permanent way? One of the nice things about the original house is that the walls and floors all slide out so that they can be compactly stacked and stored. I'm trying to keep with that intent in the additions...

Gina said...

Hi Miche,

It is very difficult for me to imagine how this could be done without actually seeing what you're referring to. Written descriptions are extremely hard to work with when it comes down to these types of projects.

You can connect anything to a dollhouse in a non permanent way. The only suggestion I can give you, from what I am imagining, is that you can use channels to slide the wall on and off. You can use removable pin hinges. You can also use magnets to keep the wall in place when needed and still be able to remove it when not. As long as you sit the wall in a way that it falls flush when in use, you can attach it non permanently in a number of ways.


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