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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 ...

Friday, October 8

The Brimbles Mercantile Dollhouse Day 4

I took a break from the staircase today so it would dry solidly before I put it in and focused on the front wall and door.

This door will be hinged but not with chamois. It will have hinges. Dye cut doors are extremely difficult to hinge. They are made up of many layers of laminated wood, making then very thick, heavy and uncooperative. The casing or "trim" that goes around the door is also made up of layers of wood that make it very hard and difficult to work with. You can imagine how much difficulty is presented when your trying to make such thick slabs of wood gently and easily glide open and closed on the worlds tiniest hinges. This is why I always suggest the chamois strip method. Though it will not make a completely easily swinging door, it will give your door movement without a lot of complications.

First, this can not be done upright so you have to lay down your door and exterior door trim (casing) on a flat surface. Door and casing trim has to be completely finished and assembled before you can attempt this. That means that if your door and exterior casing is made up of multiple layers of wood, they have to all be assembled and finished.

You lay your casing down first, fully finished and then put the fully finished door inside, just like it's suppose to hang on the dollhouse when installed. You will have to sand and sand and then sand some more to make sure that the door sits in the casing, loose enough to allow movement. You will probable have to add masking tape to the corners where you plan on putting the hinges so you can stand it upright and see if there is free movement.

If your door is made of many layers, you can omit some of them to create a thinner, more maneagable door but keep in mind that this option might take away from some of the three dimensional architectural details of the door.

The larger the hinges, the better the outcome but it will clash with scale. You have to decide what's more important to you. Larger hinges and less work or smaller hinges and a lot of work. It can take you many hours to hinge the door and you only get one shot at it. If you damage the hinge, your done and have to get a new one. Many hinge packages bring strictly four hinges and the exact count of nails for each so if you think your going to have trouble, order more packages as spares.

I chose L shaped hinges. I thought they would be a bit stronger than the straight ones. I also decided to choose true to scale hinges but larger ones would have been better.

Your going to need a spotlight, tweezers, glue, a finishing nail, hammer and a nail setter. If you don't have a nail setter, like me, you can use any object long enough to tap your hinge nail heads with.

The 2 things you MUST do in order to be successful at this are:

1. You must make a starter hole with a real life size finishing nail.
2. You must dip all of your tiny hinge nails in glue before tapping them in place.

If you do not make a starter hole, you will bend or break your hinge nails. They are not strong enough to make a hole in this hard plywood. If you don't apply glue to them, expect them to pull off or fall off in time with the movement of the door.

You can apply your hinges on the interior or the exterior of your door. The standard is exterior so you have a door that opens outwards. It's just easier, cleaner and prettier to be able to see tiny hinges on your dollhouse door from the exterior.

This dollhouse has a double door, so it's harder to hinge. Each door has two hinges, on the top and bottom.

When your sure that the door has free movement in it's casing from hours of sanding, you can position your hinge in place and mark where the tiny holes are. Make sure your hinges are positioned correctly to open and close.

I suggest you do the casing side first and when your done with that, you do the door side. If you try to do both at the same time, you might shift where the holes go.

These hinges are tiny. The best way to mark them is to use one of those refillable pencil leads because they are so thin that they will fit into the little hole. A regular pencil will not.

When the holes are marked, put the hinge to the side and use a hammer and a finishing nail to make starter holes on your markings. Try to use the thinnest finishing nail you can find at your hardware store. When you make the starter hole, do not hammer in the nail too far or you will split the wood. You just need a small indentation so the tiny hinge nails can fit half way in before tapping them all the way down.

Once the starter holes are done, position your hinge holes over them to match up. Now take a small hinge nail with a tweezer, they are way too small for fingers, and dip them in a dot of glue. Position them in the hinge hole. They will fit nicely in the starter hole. Use a nail setter to finish tapping them all the way in.

Once the casing side is done, open the hinge to make your markings on the door side, close it to make the starter holes and open it again to set in the hinge nails.

If you have a double door, you have to do this same process four times, at each corner.

Putting on the hinges might have slightly affected the way your door sits in the casing, making it not open and close smoothly. Dry fit it to your dollhouse to test this. If it starts snagging against the casing, you have to continue your sanding until it's easy again. Just make sure you hold the door in your hands firmly when you sand. You do not want to apply even the slightest pressure on the hinges.

Now paint your door side edges because they will be visible when the door opens.

Now you have the dollhouse floor to worry about. It can snag your door when it's trying to open and close once it's in place. You will have to sand the bottoms of the doors again until they are easy. Do not glue down your casing and hinged door, until your sure it's working correctly.

You have to keep in mind several things. Though you want your door to move freely within it's casing so it doesn't snag when opening and closing, you do not want it to sit loosely. If you sand way too much, your door will continue to swing open on it's hinges even when you want it to sit closed. To prevent this you have to sand enough for it to have free movement but to also sit close enough to the casing or the other door to prevent movement when you don't want it. The door must remain closed when you close it. It's a difficult balance that you have to determine while sanding by constantly dry fitting the door to it's casing and using the masking tape as temporary hinges.

Be gentle on your door! Do not press it in while closed or you run the risk of pulling out the hinges. Open and close the door gently without applying pressure in either direction. Let it sit closed or opened naturally, without forcing either. When you gently open and close it several times, you will get the hang of just how to do it easily. Each door hangs different. Remember these hinges have been hand installed, not installed by a machine, so things will not be precise. You have to open and close the door a few times to see the best way of moving it.

For double doors, like the ones on this dollhouse, open one door at a time. Do not try to open them both at once. Once one door is open, the other will also swing open since they are basically lightly touching eachother while closed to keep them from swinging open.

On this dollhouse, I have to gently press in the left side door and the right side door will swing open. To close them again, I have to close the left door first and then the right one so they both fall into place correctly. If your building the dollhouse for someone, make sure you enclose an explanation of the process for your particular doors with the dollhouse shipment.

Apply your door knobs once the door is installed. This will assure that they are sitting at equal heights.

While working on the dollhouse, you can use a piece of masking tape to prevent the doors from swinging open as you move the dollhouse around.







1 comment:

Marisa Stein said...

great tutorial! thanks for the awesome tips :)

Marisa

 

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