For the sake of rambling right along let us assume you have decided you want the joys associated with constructing a kit house. What's available and what features should we look for? This is going to depend on several factors. The amount of money you are willing or able to spend. The style of house you have in mind and of course how much room you have to display your house.
There are basically three different materials used to make dollhouse kits excluding the 1/144" type. The first being 1/8" plywood. The second being 3/8" plywood and the third being 3/8" MDF (medium density fiberboard).
The houses made from 1/8" plywood are stamp cut and require the builder to "punch" the stamped pieces out of sheets of plywood. Often the 1/8" houses are referred to as "slot and tab" construction. This has to do with the way the pieces are assembled. There are slots in some pieces which receive the tabs on other pieces. Due to the thin construction nails cannot be used so this is a method of giving more glue surface and providing more of a mechanical bond.
The 3/8" kits are assembled with glue and nails. The pieces are either nailed to the surface or are slipped in to grooves (dadoes or rabbits) after the glue has been applied then nailed. This method provides a very strong structure.
Pros And Cons Of Each Type
Here are some of the good points and some not so good points for you to use in the selection of your new house:
1/8" plywood kit Advantages · They weigh considerably less than 3/8"
plywood or MDF. 1/8" plywood kit Disadvantages
· The kits tend to be less costly.
· Many times the windows and doors are included in the kit.
· Take less tools to build (a hammer will not be required for constructive purposes).
· More difficult to assemble than 3/8" plywood or MDF.
· Tend to warp more readily.
· Take more preparation and time to assemble.
· Can be more difficult to wire.
· Tend to be less sturdy that 3/8" kits.
· Standard dollhouse millwork is harder to adapt.
1/8" plywood kit
· They weigh considerably less than 3/8" plywood or MDF.
1/8" plywood kit
The 3/8" thick kits are usually all pre-cut to size. The 3/8" plywood houses and 3/8" MDF houses are similar in nature so will be grouped together for this discussion.
3/8" plywood or MDF kit Disadvantages · They are much heavier 3/8" plywood or MDF kit Advantages
· Generally more expensive
· Windows, doors and trim are often not included in the kit
· Easier to assemble
· Many standard millwork items are available making customizing easier
· More durable
· They tend to take less preparation time
· Are easier to wire (especially with round wire or using grommets - we'll get to this I promise)
or MDF kit
· They are much heavier
or MDF kit
All right, now you have been exposed to some of the positive and some of the less positive features of both style houses and you are ready to make your move - but wait you say where am I going to find a doll house kit? This is a question with many answers. We shall attempt to give you a few.
Local Miniatures Store
Probably one of the first things to do in your quest is to check your local telephone book to see if there is a Miniatures or doll shop near you. They often have kits in stock and have a few on display for you to see. If they don't have what you want they often have catalogs that they can order from for you. Your local miniature shop will most likely become one of your best resources for not only supplies and accessories but also for knowledge.
Mail Order and/or Internet Merchants/Artisans
Oh no! You've looked in the telephone book and alas your land is barren of miniature shops what now? Not to worry. Check out the bookstore or newsstand. There are several publications that provide numerous adds for dollhouse shops all over the world (and they have some useful information and how to's in there too). Another option is to get your browser fired up and do some surfing. More and more shops, companies and individual artisans are providing Internet shopping opportunities. Go search them out. You'll be glad you did.
Another Internet option is the online auctions. There are many items new and used listed for sale there. Just be sure you know what it is you are buying. Communicate with the seller to be sure you will be getting what you think you are getting. Good deals can be had but be sure the motto "buyer beware" applies here.
Oh and don't forget to keep your eyes open for miniature shows in your area. They have such a variety of things to appeal to the miniature collector it almost boggles the mind! Watch the newspapers, miniature magazines and bill boards for dates, times and places. Who knows you just might even stumble across someone from a local club you might be interested in joining. Shows are fun if you ever have the chance to attend one don't miss it.
An often overlooked option is to shop the swap meets and garage sales. Sometimes you will find kits that have either never been started or abandoned part way through. I think that if this is your first house it would be better to stay with a kit that has not been started. You will have enough to think about without having to worry about which pieces are missing etc.
OK! You found the perfect house. Nicely done. You carefully buckled it in it's "new house seat" for the trip home and it is now sitting beside you calling to you open me, feel my pieces, scatter me all about, build me. Don't listen - resist - be strong - 'tis not yet the time. We still have a few thing we need to discuss before releasing the lion.
Read The Directions
Just like Sammy says, we need to start our plan of attack. We need to read and re-read the directions until we have a good idea of what they are saying. We need to look over the list of supplies mentioned by the manufacturer. Many of them will match what this guide has to say. Hopefully we will take you even further. We will attempt to explain "the rest of the story". To fill in the blanks. Stick around for awhile we have lots more to share. Ain't it cool to have your very own dollhouse though. Yeah!!
The Planning Stage
Here is where the fun begins. The planning stage. Oh boy what do I do next. Well lots of decisions need to be made before get too far underway. Things like what period of history do I want my beauty to be situated in? What country? What colors will fit in with the period I have chosen? Will it be a theme house i.e. Easter House , Halloween house, or maybe a Christmas house? What kind of siding do I want. How do I want to do the foundation. Will I wallpaper or paint or even stain the inside walls. What will each room be used for. What shall I use for floor covering.
We need to start thinking about all of these things as they will affect the way we build our dream house. So dream for a bit. Look in magazines, books the television. Take a trip to the library and look at architectural styles from the period and country you are interested in. Head t the paint store and look at paint chips. Mix and match and visualize what your finished house will be like. Dream up you own thing the sky is the limit but you do need to have some good idea of which direction you are headed.
Last revised: April 2001