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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, January 19

The Willowcrest Dollhouse Revisited Week 2

I've spent a couple of weeks preparing the dollhouse kit for assembly. I punched out all of the dollhouse parts, sanded each one and sorted them according to components. I used rubber bands to keep parts together and a styrofoam bowl to place small parts that could get lost, like brackets.

I say this with every build and this one is no exception, inexperienced builders should not prepare their kits this way. New builders should wait and punch out their parts when the instruction sheet calls for it and never before. You will not be able to know what the part is if you remove it from the sheet ahead of time. Even if you label the parts, it can become confusing and small parts can become lost. I am experienced enough to know what 95% of these parts are, just by looking at them. The rest, I can figure out as I proceed with the assembly and if something is lost, I can re-create it.

Kit preparation is labor intensive and takes a lot of time, depending on how much of it you can spare on your project. Most of the time, people see the word "kit" and mistakenly assume that they will open the box and have a dollhouse ready for decorating by the end of the day but this is not the case with tab and slot dollhouses. You must prepare the kit for assembly. It is not ready for assembly right out of the box.

Basically the kit consists of the wood sheets, schematics/architectural diagrams and instructions/suggestions for assembly. The woodwork has to be done by you.

This particular Willowcrest kit is an older one but it is intact. The wood however was not in very good shape on some of the sheets. They were brittle and some of the parts delaminated, crumbled and/or broke when removed. There was also one sheet where the dye did not cut all the way through and this also contributed to some broken parts. Some of these parts can be repaired and others will have to be scrapped and re-created, but we will get to that when the time comes.

The pile of scraps on the desk is all the parts that I have to fit like a puzzle in order to repair. They are all window parts. Repairing is very easy. Just fit the pieces together at the broken parts, glue and clamp with a binder clamp until dry. Then you can sand the parts smooth and use spackle to fill in any joints, if needed.

When you have a lot of similar square parts, the best way to sort them out is to match there wood grain with large walls and/or floors from each sheet and then count how many square parts the instruction sheet calls for. That way you can find all the risers, steps and other similarly square shaped parts. I always wait for that step in the instructions to find the those kind of parts.

I also prepared the siding and shingles that come with the kit. Using them saves money. The siding comes in strips that are attached together to create sheets. You have to pull them apart in order to use each individual strip of siding. This is very easy to do if you just take your siding sheet and roll it up, at the strip joints. Roll one way and then roll the other way and this loosens the strips and they easily fall off. No pulling necessary.

These kits come with a lot of siding strips, way more than you will need, so if you come across a sheet that is just too difficult, scrap it. If the strips do not fall off when rolled, then it means the siding will most likely split and break when you try to pry the strips apart. This occurs because the dye stamp did not cut all the way through the sheet properly.

Usually, I will scrap the kit shingles because they are so difficult to pry apart, since they come in sheets as well. These square shingles are very easy though. Just roll the shingle sheets like the siding. Roll one way and then the other and the shingles come off in strips. Then just snap the shingles apart. Very quick and easy and there is no loss of materials.

1 comment: said...

I am so glad that you posted this. I cannot believe how many people see my two houses and say, "Did you build them?" When I said they came from a kit but I assembled them, it's almost a disappointment to them. I remind them that there are lots and lots of pieces (seems like thousands) and they are surprised when I say each house takes between 3 and 6 months, depending upon real life. I am looking foward to your blog.


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